There are two ways to be happy. You can improve your reality, or you lower your expectations.

Since June is Youth month, the next few weeks’ writing will be focused on their development issues. This story will perhaps resonate with many young people who find themselves in the mentioned situation.

I met a young lady in her late twenties at my friend’s recruitment specialist office last week and we had an interesting conversation. The conversation was about her, her life – dreams and aspiration. I found out that she is 27 years old, Matriculated 7 years go, and has limited working experience. She worked as a marketing and promotions person, distributing pamphlets on the roadside, filling station cashier and currently works as a cashier at a supermarket. She has an 8 year old kid, and single by choice.

Now she was looking for a new job in the call center environment. I asked her about academic achievements. She mentioned that she has a Matric Certificate and she kindly gave it to me to look at. The certificate had all her six subjects done in Standard Grade and she had an ‘F’ symbol on five subjects, and one subject had an ‘E’ symbol.

My next question was to ask her about her dreams and aspirations. She told me that she would like to get a new job which can pay her ‘far much more’ money than she earns now, because she wants to be able to support her parents, own her own house, buy a car and even send her child to a private school.

She emphasized that all of these dreams and aspirations have be fulfilled in the next three years, because all her friends have these things and she is the only one left far behind hence the need to fast track her success.

On hearing this I asked if she had time to talk after her interview because I felt the need to help her get real with her life. She will need to be earning R35000/40000 per month at least, to fund this dream and this could take 10 to 15 years to achieve unless she wins a lotto of course. You see, her expectations are way above her current skills, abilities and the education she possesses. She is not realistic, and is heading for the greatest shock and disappointment in her life.

Here’s a thing: We all have great expectations in our lives – what we want out of life and who we want to become, is one of the keys to happiness. The secret to success lies within our ability to manage our expectations.

So to safeguard her heart from disappointment, and put her on high spirits, I recommended that she sets short-term goals, which will allow her to take baby steps towards her big goals. Short-term goals are a great motivator towards a success journey. Example: I asked if she can drive, she cannot. Here lies her small goal achievable in one year: save up money for driving lessons and licensing.

Other questions I asked her were: Are you computer literate? Do you know the industry you are planning to work in? Perhaps when you finally get the job, it might be worth your while to focus on your work for six months, then spend at least another six months researching the valuable skills needed there for growth and development, find out how you can learn them, find places of education and go study if necessary. This will increase your chances of being promoted to better paying jobs.

There are two ways to be happy. You can improve your reality or you lower your expectations.