By Michelle Coates Mather

Expectations are a funny thing. They are deeply personal, driven by personality, life experiences, priorities, hopes and even ambitions.

Expectations drive us forward and can transform social norms. This is particularly true and relevant in today’s modern society where centuries’ old corporate cultures are increasingly becoming outdated and unattractive to potential hires, and top talent.

It’s no secret. Every day we hear and read more and more about the real shift happening in people’s expectations of what work-life and personal-life realities ought to look like.

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos calls it “work-life harmony”, some say “work-life balance” and others “work-life design”. The terms, in and of themselves, don’t really matter. What matters is this: expectations are changing. Period. And it’s time we all accept that we need to adapt.

Disrupting the status-quo

When I met the co-founders of Nurtured Life, their desire to disrupt the status quo and to re-define “traditional” work-life norms (i.e., hours in chairs versus hours at home), was appealing to me. We came from the same perspective: all busy working moms, with busy working husbands. Each of us had the same desire to be the writers of our own life story; to better set and manage the priorities that mattered most to our families, our friends, our careers AND our personal well-being.

These are the causes that brought each of us to a turning point of self and life reflection.  While they might be different than yours, they are no more important. Only you can decide what priorities drive your expectations. It’s all about finding ways to design a life that makes sense for you; a life that drives you and gives you purpose. A life that fits you.

Ending “fake it t’il you make” attitudes

For too long, I felt very much like I was living someone else’s career. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Too often I found myself going against my own instincts in favour of the opinions and the “you should do this” or the “ you shouldn’t do that” advice of others. Faking it t’il I made it, was no longer working for me. Where at times I felt confident and sure of myself and my ambitions, there were many other moments where I felt trapped by work that started to feel more like a grind than a meaningful career. My reality wasn’t in line with my expectations – it just wasn’t the right fit for me, and I was afraid to admit it. I was prioritizing other people’s ambitions for me over my own.

Becoming self-aware 

It wasn’t until I became really honest with myself (I’m talking, ugly crying, pro and con list writing, soul searching, honest) about what brings me joy, what motivates me and how far I’m willing to go to pursue the life and career I want, that I was able to gain the courage necessary to shift my sights in a new direction.

I knew I wanted to be a part of a “people culture” that embraced the new expectations and saw the value in them, not the headaches. I also wanted to be a part of a team of leaders who value the same things I value, who embrace wellness, personal empowerment, collaboration and quality as key drivers of team and business success.

Personal well-being is not something people in our over stressed, hyper demanding societies tend to value – but they should. Ariana Huffington herself has warned of the dangers of “glamourizing” how busy we are in sacrifice of our own self-care.

If you find yourself waking up every morning dreading your work day, be honest with yourself about why that is and whether your expectations are in line with the reality.

Understanding what drives, motivates and empowers you to do great work, to excel, to achieve, to be a reliable team player, begins with self-awareness. It takes courage to get real with yourself and identify your expectations.  You owe it to yourself to do so.

Michelle is Director of Content Marketing and Communications of Nurtured Life Company. Mama to two beautiful kiddos, Michelle is an advocate for re-defining work-life culture to meet today’s modern realities. She believes we all have the power to prioritize personal well-being; sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of our own way.