The past few days have not been the finest days of my life. I have plenty of scapegoats to pin this on—the winter weather; Parkinson’s Disease; dental fillings gone bad; or the backyard squirrels who insist on leaving their snowy, dot-to-dot image incomplete by not running through the snow to create lines between all of the trees in our backyard. (See picture for photographic evidence.) But ultimately, it all comes back to me and my partner in crime—expectations.

Expectations cause us to succeed and even exceed our goals. But they can also cause disappointment and heartache when they are not met. I knew that dashed expectations were a part of my emotional winter stew, but I didn’t realize the extent of their involvement until this morning when I added a little exercise I picked up from Mark Forster’s blog to my morning’s journal entry. You simply complete the sentence, “Something I really want out of life is…,” ten times.

I quickly wrote ten sentences like the directions said, and even though breaking the rules was not in that list, I did. I kept going. In less than five minutes, I had thirty things I wanted out of life. I could have plowed on, but I stopped myself when I realized how greedy I was being. I expect a lot out of life—not to mention what I expect of myself and others.

So I’m taking a step back and comparing my list to another set of expectations. Those found in Micah 6:8, which include being just, kind, and humble. And another little expectation in Matthew 22:36-40, that has to do with loving God, others, and myself. Some of my expectations mesh well with these, but others need modified or chucked. I hope (another expectation) that this little exercise will help me accept the disappointments more gracefully.

What about you? What’s something you really want out of life today?