Written April 24, 2018
Last night I was thinking about expectations. Those that we put on ourselves, on other people and expectations about life in general. Often we have such a preconceived notion of what is supposed to happen, or what a person is supposed to do, that when the expectation isn’t met it ultimately causes disappointment.
When that happens to me I often sit back and try to evaluate exactly what my expectations were and why they weren’t met. The more I did that, the more I came to realize that setting expectations based on how I would handle a situation, often set me up for failure. Expecting others to deliver in exactly the same way I would was most likely unreasonable. We are different people that handle situations in different ways and the quickest way to set myself up for disappointment was to have an expectation that the person or situation deliver in the exact same way that I would.
Some people overachieve because that is their nature. Others deliver but in their own time and way. Some are just naturally born underachievers. I find if you take time to truly get to know the person and set expectations commensurate with their style, then disappointment becomes far more rare.
Equally important is the expectations we place on ourselves. I can’t tell you how often over the years I have applied unneeded pressure to myself by setting expectations that were just not deliverable. When I didn’t meet them, it often created self doubt and angst that I learned over the years was so unnecessary. We are not machines, we are humans with ever changing emotions and abilities and it is equally important to understand our limitations and set expectations for ourselves accordingly.
Sometimes, I find it helpful to create a prioritization list, whether mental or on paper. It contains all the things I expect to accomplish but buckets them in groups of importance. When I finish the ones that are the most important, I move on to the others and I am left with a feeling of satisfaction that the list is getting smaller rather than the pressure of trying to accomplish everything at once.
How we set and deliver expectations is truly a product of who we are. How we learn to adapt and alter those expectations is a product of the person we want to be. Dealing with the outside world takes more effort than it has in the past. So why place ourselves in a position of potential failure by setting unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others. I don’t believe in expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Setting an expectation that is deliverable and then delivering on it is far more satisfying.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.