8 warning signs you’re setting life goals based on others’ expectations, not your own

Trying to be what everyone expects might boost your likeability, but it won’t ensure lasting happiness or real fulfillment.

When you reflect on figures like Kurt Cobain or Amy Winehouse, who had fame and fortune, it becomes clear that even with all the external success that others see as life goals, many find themselves feeling empty and unhappy.

Often, it’s because they’re busy chasing goals set by others, not their own heartfelt aspirations. 

So, here are six warning signs that tell you’re setting life goals based on others’ expectations rather than what genuinely matters to you.

1) You take a back seat

When you constantly try to meet everyone else’s never-ending expectations, your needs automatically take a back seat.

You fear that if you speak your mind, express a need, or draw a boundary, you will disappoint someone – maybe your boss, partner, or family.

That is why if you are one of those people who run around trying to meet others’ expectations, then you are unable to take action until you get the green light from others.

This fear cripples you and leaves you navigating life without agency or a sense of control.

2) You can never say no

Naturally, when holding your tongue becomes second nature to you, agreeing becomes your autopilot setting, and the word “no” drops out of your dictionary.

The same fear that prompts you to take the back seat in life is the one that holds you from drawing healthy boundaries and turning down unrealistic requests and wishes.

So, if you find yourself taking up tasks and goals that are beyond you and do not align with your values and vision, then chances are you’re being driven by other’s expectations of you and not your own.

3) You’re indecisive

By letting others take the wheel in life, folks often find themselves being pulled along by the goals set by someone else. 

Assertiveness becomes a bit of a challenge.

Despite leading a more stable and purposeful life now, I used to get tangled up in knots when faced with a decision. 

Whether picking dinner or choosing courses for the semester, I always faced a bit of a dilemma. 

My folks, bosses, and partners were the architects of my life decisions for as long as I can remember. 

For someone who never had the reins in choosing their life’s path, setting expectations for myself was as foreign. 

You know the saying, “Practice makes perfect,” but how can you perfect something you’ve never even practiced?

And what if, all your life, you’ve been customizing your decisions to fit everyone else’s wish list? 

It wasn’t until I came across Rudá Iandê’s Free Your Mind masterclass that I started building up the curiosity to navigate the societal, cultural, and spiritual conditioning I have fallen into.

With his mind-opening insights, guidance, and practices, I could retake control of my life, commit to being comfortable in my own skin, and transform all the frustration and guilt I had in me into a realm of love, acceptance, and joy!

If you want to break free from indecisiveness shackles, sign up for this liberating and free masterclass by clicking here.

4) You lack direction

When your compass in life is controlled by everyone else but yourself, it’s highly likely you don’t know what you want in life.

Lacking direction and purpose are telltale signs that you’re not living authentically and meeting your goals.

Whether it’s holding back on your dreams until you get everyone’s approval or living on someone else’s terms, not having clear goals of your own can leave you feeling stuck in a constant waiting game.

5) Your cup is half-empty

Feeling empty makes total sense when cruising through life without a clear purpose. 

By constantly worrying about what people think of you and your path in life, you remain busy trying to make everyone happy.

This leaves you drained and unhappy because you don’t get to enjoy any sense of real accomplishment. 

The goals you’re chasing keep shifting because they’re hitched to the outside world and are not set by you.

6) You’re on the brink of losing it

Hustling to meet expectations set by others puts you in a constant state of worry, eventually leaving you stressed and overwhelmed.

For all you perfectionists and people-pleasers out there, it’s easy to get caught in the tide of what others expect from you. 

But here’s the real deal: trying to please everyone is a recipe for exhaustion because, spoiler alert, you can never please everybody. 

It’s a quick route to being on constant edge, making it hard to savor your victories because you’re too busy worrying about what people might think.

If this hits a little too close to home, maybe it’s time to pause and ask yourself: Are these goals really yours, or are you just chasing someone else’s dream? 

7) You’re unkind to yourself

Once it hits you that trying to keep up with everyone’s expectations while staying true to yourself is impossible, you are bound to face self-resentment.

If you’re already wrestling with shaky self-esteem and hooked on people’s opinions, the moment you sense you’ve let them down, you’re likely to become your own drill sergeant.

Caught in this tug-of-war between attempting to please everyone (and falling short) and not living life on your terms, you end up being super hard on yourself.

Suddenly, all those milestones that should be high-fives become tiny blips on the radar because the never-ending demands of others overshadow them.  

8) You’re always fishing for a thumbs-up

One of the most glaring red flags that you are not living life up to your terms is when your radar is constantly tuned to seek validation.

If you feel like your life is a constant quest for applause, and the real measure of success is the number of thumbs-ups you collect from the crowd, you are playing by others’ laid down expectations for you, not your own.

Final thoughts

Balancing act is the keyword here, where you honor the goals and expectations you’ve set for yourself while juggling the reasonable expectations thrown your way by the folks who matter.

It’s about finding that middle ground where you can pursue your aspirations while meeting reasonable expectations from loved ones. 

If you want to transcend limiting beliefs and lead a more authentic life, sign up for our free your mind masterclass.

Picture of Lily Gareth

Lily Gareth

Beirut-based writer with a flair for all that is artistic. Follow her on Instagram: @raysofdisarrays

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