How to balance expectations the lagom way like a Swede!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Wait! Who is Jack and why does he become a dull boy? This is a famous English proverb, meaning that you should always take some time off from the things they must do (like work or family) and have fun.

Otherwise, you become both bored and boring. You get bored because you are always occupied with the same (most probably unpleasant) things. But you also become boring, as you don’t have other things outside of the must do’s to discuss and you are no fun for others too.

How lagom that sounds, huh? Yep, the Swedish balance-them-all concept that has become popular all around the world. Easier said than done. But, you know, lagom is about balancing things in life. The good and bad moments, the must-dos and the fun-to-dos. And this all has a lot to do with managing expectations.

How can you manage expectations the lagom way?

What is wrong with very high expectations? 

OK, imagine this! You have extremely high expectations about everything: from the smallest to the most important thing. What does this seem like? We’d dare say a “bubble“. You live in a fantastic (and imaginary) world, where everything runs smoothly and you are the only one on the planet. You can do anything you like, right or wrong, normal or crazy.

Back to reality. Most of your bubble conditions are not there in true life. So you get huge bitter doses of disappointment every now and then. Crash boom bang! This is not sustainable. From extreme happiness (the imaginary one) to hard reality. Hey, these are the extremes and balance lies in the middle, right? This is the place of lagom!

How do the Nordic people manage expectations? 

First things first. Expectations are not the same as goals. So, don’t get them wrong. They do have aspirations and high goals. It is just that they balance them. Repeat after us: lagom is not too little, not too much. Thumbs up! Likewise, the Swedes or Danes, for example, set their goals and expectations neither too high nor too low. In the middle. We’d say a little bit above what is the absolute minimum to expect.

So, if they achieve them or things turn out as expected, they get happy. And their self-confidence is boosted. If things go wrong, they do not get huge disappointment. It is their way of keeping things balanced.

How can you learn to manage your expectations too?

Expectations are a factor of happiness. What you expect from yourself every day or from others at work or in your relationships is significant for how happy you feel. If you want to try the Nordic lagom way, consider the following three rules:
  1. Life is a combination of good and bad times. This is the most generic (yet realistic) expectation for life you can (must) have. The good times give you joy, the bad times don’t throw you to the floor. This way, you are also prepared for the dangers or risks in life.
  2. Don’t dramatize. There is enough drama on TV and Netflix. Keep drama away from your personal and social life. Nothing can be that bad, so simply focus on how to solve the problems that come up. 
  3. Be blunt. A little dose of bluntness can do no harm. Really. Speak up and say things as they are. Talk about and face your fears too. Bluntness overcomes fears, so you can then have a more realistic view of things and set expectations accordingly.
In any case, you have to work on living a more balanced life when it comes to expectations. Balance and happiness come from allocating the right amount of time and energy on the problems and the blissful moments, alike. You need to look at how to solve the former and also to enjoy the latter. It’s worth it, right?