“I don’t get my hopes up. Then I am never disappointed.”
This is a view of life I hear others voice, but I don’t share.
There is a line to be drawn between running full-blown into a situation with the highest of hopes, and expecting nothing.
As you might guess, I choose the middle path.
Expectations and emotions run high when a big life change is on the horizon: hoping for an offer of marriage, a healthy baby, an approved thesis, a promotion.
If the same high expectations are applied to, “What is she going to get me for Christmas?” or “Dinner had better be waiting for me when I get home,” then an attitude adjustment may be in order!
My natural modus operandi is to be as prepared as possible for things within my control. (My mom would call it Meeting God Halfway). Sometimes that doesn’t feel like much. I can ace my cover letter, meet the qualifications, practice interviewing, and still be passed over for the job I desperately wanted. Then it comes down to self-talk.
Do I say, “Eh, I bet that would have been a crappy job anyway?”
Or “I’ll never find work; there are too many better people out there.”
Or “It was only one application; I’ll send out 16 tomorrow!”
Or “It’s been 6 months now; I had better broaden my scope and try the entry-level positions too.”
Sometimes we have a lot of control but maybe we shouldn’t exert it. Everyone in my family knows my cousin is pushing her daughter to study medicine. I was telling the daughter about my work and she said to her mom, “Oh, I would love to be a librarian!” My cousin said, “Oh, no you don’t!” and shut her up. Mandy is now in Med School but will she be happy? I would not want that responsibility.
I could manipulate results. Let’s say I am not impressed by the candle my friend gives me as a birthday gift. I give her a gift certificate for a spa day on her birthday. Ta-dah! I have upped the ante.
When it comes to expectations, my mental process goes something like this:
- I ask “How important is it?” but I don’t settle for making everything low priority
- If it is important, I talk about it rather than waiting for someone else to come around
- I think hard about my motivation for influencing another person
- If I want a result, I do something rather than nothing
- Do I enjoy anticipation or not knowing? Can I stay In-the-Moment?
- How happy will I be when I get what I think I want?
How do you manage expectations?