Today I want to talk about managing expectations.
Everyone says it, expectations are dream killers. And they’re not wrong. How often do you make plans in your mind about something and nothing goes the way you thought it would. Probably more often than not.
A lot of people say, “Don’t have expectations for anything,” but I think that’s really unrealistic. It is important to live in the present and enjoy every moment for what it is, yes, but that would mean that we never had goals or thoughts about the future.
When we make expectations in our minds about how something is going to turn out, ultimately that’s just a result of planning. We’re taking an active role in being the architect of our lives and we’re creating goals for ourselves. When we put energy into a goal, it’s because we want a certain outcome. So expectations can feel unavoidable if you’re making a plan for the future.
Instead of avoiding expectations and trying not to have them, how do you minimize the pain that comes from unmet expectations? Well, it’s not easy but the answer lies in perspective.
When I think about a big disappointment in my life, I think about my Challenge career. I’ve never actually been crowned a challenge champion. For someone as competitive, driven, and hardworking as me, it’s a very hard pill to swallow. It’s similar to someone who’s been trying and training for years to win an olympic gold medal. You have to train your butt off in the off season and pray that you get the opportunity to compete for a win. In the Challenge that’s only twice a year. You only get two chances to be a Challenge champion a year and that’s if they call you back to be on the cast.
I’ve been going on Challenges for three years now, and considering I haven’t won one, it’s very easy to feel disappointed. Especially, when I think about how many times I was SO CLOSE to achieving my goal.
In order to not be completely destroyed by those “failures,” I need to look for the silver lining in the situation.
For someone who’s not actually a champion, I’m still a really successful challenger. I still get asked back on the show. I still perform with all my heart. And I’ve still done some incredible things in my Challenge career.
For someone who’s not a winner, I’m sure as hell still building an amazing personal brand. I’m using all of the resources that I’ve been given from the Challenge to build an online platform that is consistently growing. In that area, I’m incredibly successful. Sitting in my room and being upset that I’m not a Challenge champ isn’t paying any respect to all of the amazing things that I am. It’s robbing me of my happiness.
That’s the mindset that I encourage you to adopt. Instead of looking at yourself as a flop, look at yourself as a pillar of experiences that have made you grow taller and more powerful with every lesson. The key is your perspective.
Another important thing to recognize is that your plans have a 99.999999 percent chance of going a different way than what you expected. So instead of expecting a perfectly scheduled out life, expect the unexpected.
Just think about your average day. I am always totally baffled by how a simple and mundane day can be so different than the one before it and after it. Some days you wake up and you feel on top of the world, then by 12 o‘clock you realize that your cat ran out of food and now you have to move your 1 o’clock appointment because something small changed up your plans. So, now for the rest of the day you’re experiencing negative self-talk because you’re so down on yourself for overlooking something as simple as the cat food.
Or on the other hand, you can have a day that starts off terrible. You can sleep past your alarm, wake up to five missed phone calls, and feel completely rushed. But then that same day you can also get a stimulus check in the mail and now you have an extra couple hundred bucks in your pocket. Just like your day can change for the worse, it can also change for the better.
Our life is like one big story, and each individual day is a page. Sometimes the page is going to start out rough, and other times it’s going to start out amazing.
Our life is like one big story, and each individual day is a page. Sometimes the page is going to start out rough, and other times it’s going to start out amazing. If our expectations change from being concrete plans, to a more fluid and receptive mindset, then we’re setting ourselves up for happiness.
Expectations are important, they push us to greatness, so learning how to recover from disappointments is what matter.
So how do we deal with disappointments:
- Let them go. Accept them, acknowledge them and feel them, but then let them go. Imagine you were running for homecoming queen for high school and you lost, and you still carried that pain with you today? When you carry the burden of unmet expectations in your life, you don’t leave room to carry the potential for new opportunities.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Guess what kid, you tried. You gave something your all, and you should be fucking proud of that. Do you know how many people live in fear of failing so they never try. Imagine living under a rock of fear your entire life. To step out from that rock, climb up a hill, and jump off with a goal to fly is brave. Because you risk the chance of falling, but you know what you also give yourself the opportunity to fly. You should never shame yourself for trying. We should encourage it and keep pushing forward. Losing at something doesn’t mean you’re a loser, It means you gave it a shot. SO KEEP TRYING.
- Remember that everyone experiences them. There is not one person on this planet who has created an expectation for themselves and hasn’t failed at least once. You’re not alone. If there was a human who achieved every goal they had ever thought of, guess what, their life would be boring. When you work for something and fail, and work harder, and finally get it, it’s rewarding. So remember that you’re not alone. We’re all constantly trying and failing and winning at different time.
For anyone out there that feels like they’ve had years of unmet expectations and feels like their whole life is a disappointment then I hope you hear me when I say,
It’s never too late to do something amazing with your life.
My mom went her whole life feeling like she wasn’t smart enough and when she was 40 years old she decided to apply for med school. And guess what, now she’s a PA. She was a secretary in a medical facility and realized at 40 years old she could do more. She didn’t throw in the towel and call it quits, she tried again. And guess what, you can too. No matter what age you are, what circumstance you’re in, what’s holding you back, you can imagine a life for yourself that makes you truly happy. You can think of it. And if you can think of it, then you can build it.
Today, I’m going to leave you with a question. If you didn’t live in fear of failed expectations, what would your life look like? Would you have a different career? Would you live in a different place? What would it look like.