Expectations are a hell of a thing to live up to. Your own. Others'. They can make you feel like you are on top of the world when you meet or exceed them. Or, they can suck you into a self-loathing abyss when you don't quit hit the mark.
On my run Saturday with Jill I had the expectation to run 8 miles. This is always established up-front so you push toward a goal. I can tell you, I did not meet the 8 mile mark. I came up short. The reality of that run was that either allergies or recycled airplane air wreaked havoc on my sinuses - hence making breathing difficult. I just couldn't get enough air. I was completely frustrated as I had to walk throughout the course of that run and with each walk-break becoming more annoyed with myself. I kept apologizing to Jill as she stayed next to me throughout what would become a 10k. Her response was always that it was fine. Not a big deal. Just happy to be spending time together.
Jill's expectation was a bit different than mine - her focus was spending time together. Mine was completing an eight-mile run. Despite the utter frustration associated with my lack of performance, I walked away from that experience thinking that I really just need to set the expectation that I'm spending time with my friends and getting a decent work-out as a fringe benefit. Maybe, just maybe, setting a lighter expectation will yield a more impressive result.