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Self-management of expectations

What is self management of expectations?


Self-management refers to strategies, techniques and approaches we use to direct our activities and behaviours effectively.

Being able to self-manage and take personal responsibility for your own future is one of the most valuable things you can do.

You should be able to set realistic goals and aim to reach them.

If you encounter some problems along the way, you should be able to recognise them and seek help and solutions to overcome them.

manage your expectations - building blocks

It is important to be clear about your expectations of what it is like to be in higher education.

It will help if your expectations are informed and realistic.

  • Do you have a clear idea about what is expected of you as a successful learner in higher education?
  • Have you a set of well defined, dynamic goals and a plan of how and when you will achieve them?

What might happen if my expectations and my reality are different?

If your expectations and your reality are different then there is a gap that could widen and impact negatively on your academic success. Here are some examples:

Expectation Result How to overcome this
Focusing on your employability at the end of the course You may concentrate on merely passing assessments to get through the course  At University, you need to develop a deep approach to learning and trying to understand the course material
Lecturers will use similar teaching styles to those you experienced at school Lecture material may not be as detailed as you expected Engage with the material and fill in the gaps yourself
Overestimating the amount of contact time that will be offered at university and the role lecturers have for your learning You see lecturers as being unavailable and unhelpful You need to take responsibility for contacting lecturers and personal tutors with problems, as well as studying independently to fill in gaps

Resources used to inform this page:

Potter's skillEffective self management relies on the following skills:

  • Clear and fact-based thinking
    • the ability to separate personal interpretations and beliefs from facts
    • See the LibGuides on Critical Thinking and Fake News for further help
  • Taking responsibility
    • owning mistakes
    • talking about how you have learned from them
    • how mistakes have helped you develop professionally and academically
  • Initiative
    • taking ownership of responsibilities
    • responding to things without prompting from others
    • ability to make decisions and seek the correct information to support them
    • trust in your own judgement
  • Resilience
    • ability to adapt and bounce back when things don't go as planned
    • regulate your energy level and take care of your well-being - know when rest is needed
    • recognise things that bring joy and challenge you positively
    • See the Academic Resilience LibGuide for further information
  • climber's skillAssertiveness
    • listening but also ensuring that the best ideas are pushed forward in a sensitive and constructive manner.
  • Time management
    • demonstrating how you currently plan work at university (e.g. using diary, scheduler, to do list)
    • See the Time Management LibGuide for further help
  • Flexibility
    • stepping in at short notice to cover for someone who is ill

Resources used to inform this page:

Setting goalsHow to manage your expectations

Setting goals

Establish your goals for what you want to achieve and plan how they will fit into your longer term goals.

  • Create a list of goals
  • Revisit this list to keep it dynamic and ambitious
  • Use inspirational quotations and stories to keep yourself motivated
  • Further information on goal setting

Informed realism

Become familiar with any new requirements and be realistic about how you will meet them.

  • Attend any open days or induction events
  • Speak to other students including the students’ union or association
  • Ask questions and seek clarification if you are unsure

Yoga poseFlexibility

Good coping mechanisms will come from approaching differences between reality and expectations with some flexibility.

  • When you see others' posts on social media, remind yourself that this may not be reality
  • When you find that what is happening is not what you expected, look for the positives

Resources used to inform this page: