Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.– Anne Lamott
Our expectations determine our experience. And more often than not, reality doesn’t live up to our expectations.
By definition, expectations are the hope of what may be.
We expect to lose 15 pounds, get that big promotion, ace that exam, or make a certain salary.
We expect our spouse/partner to make dinner, notice the dirty countertop, or cheer us on while running a marathon.
We expect our coworker to be detail-oriented, inquire about our weekend, or volunteer to help with an important project.
We expect our manager to express appreciation for our exemplary work and provide helpful constructive feedback.
We expect our vacation to be a dream trip filled with excitement, romance, sunkissed days and star-filled evenings.
Instead, we experience something very different.
An ongoing battle with the scale, a solid B on the exam, a different promotion, and falling short of that income increase.
Our spouse/partner orders in and shows no interest in standing for hours on the sidelines in the heat while we run that marathon.
Our coworker shares details about their weekend without asking about ours and never inquires about collaborating on that big assignment.
Our manager provides harsher critique than we’d like and their appreciation seems in short supply.
And that vacation…our credit card was stolen, it rained two of the six days, and the babysitter canceled last minute, putting a crimp in the romance.
Ahhh, expectations…. We set ourselves up for disappointment and resentment by anticipating that reality will unfurl the way we desire.
Expectations are our way of attempting to control outcomes by predetermining results. The flaw in this common practice is we only have control over ourselves; we have no control over others or the reality of our environment.
A far better practice is openly communicating and collaborating with others to arrive at a mutually agreed-upon outcome. This may not meet 100% of expectations but is far more likely to produce desired results because you’ve got buy-in.
Another practice is to “go with the flow” and allow yourself to be curious about outcomes.
Let’s look at that “expectation vacation:” Becoming invested in the perfect getaway takes an incredible amount of mental, physical, and emotional energy, and truthfully, is something over which you don’t have total control.
Mother Nature doesn’t care if you’ve decided the days should be a balmy 73 degrees. If she’s got a snowstorm planned, guess who will win that weather war? (Hint: not you.)
Living in and embracing the moment and all the unanticipated surprises life offers removes the burden of our expectations. It peels away the impossible perfection and enables us to appreciate what is, flaws and all.
Expectations hold us and others back, setting everyone and everything up to fall far short. Curiosity, living in the moment, and setting realistic, flexible objectives creates an agile space where everyone – including you – can flourish and grow.