What Do You Expect?

Expectations are happiness killers.

In anticipation of specific outcomes and the feelings related to the outcomes, we invariably set an expectation that relates to the result. When the actual result does not align with what was 'expected', the feelings we expected emerge as disappointment, frustration, confusion, or just plain unhappiness.

Expectation can be defined as: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a belief that someone will or should achieve something.

Two potential problems that leap off the page: ‘in the future’ and ‘should’. Accurately predicting the future is virtually impossible and should is right up there with ‘assume’ as an ineffective thinking habit.

Typically, expectations are based on past experience – something that will in all likelihood never be repeated. Yet we persist. One of the most common venues for expectations is the ‘holiday’. When we have a memorable experience at a particular spot or time of the year, we plan a repeat visit ‘expecting’ to once again have a memorable ‘positive’ experience. By all means, plan repeat experiences. Just don’t build them up with expectations.

Some might say “you need goals to get anything done!”.

I totally agree. Goals, however, are not expectations! Set goals and plan your execution but don’t fall into the trap of setting an expectation around what reaching your goal will be like. Weight loss or physical fitness are great personal improvement initiatives. Without a goal setting and execution process, most people never reach goals like these. The trap, of course, is to expect that reaching your goal will make you feel a specific way.

If you reach your goal but miss the expectation, I guarantee you will be disappointed and will invest time and energy beating yourself up. Not necessary!

If you find yourself investing in expectations and suffering because of it, perhaps your coach can help you break the cycle.