Meeting Expectations Spells Disaster in 3 Ways

Expectations are an essential piece of human emotion.  We all have them, and to an extent, assumptions control our ability to perceive life around us.  We expect bad traffic on our morning commute, and then, in the office, expect the break room coffee to suck.  Many go on, expecting the day to be train-wrecked by some fire drill, before bad traffic on the way home.  Often all the way through dinnertime, our expected outcomes shape the way our day unfolds.  The same can be said for going through college, starting a business, or any endeavor for that matter.

These feelings of negative expected results can be crippling, and often times it’s not even our expectations, but those of others.  Whether your co-workers, family or friends expected you to have been promoted already, received your degree sooner, earned more money by now, had that business started, and so on.  When combined with our own expectations, the result of meeting these collaborative expectations can be hugely detrimental, and spell disaster, in 3 ways.

  1. We allow them to set the tone of our lives – Whether these are the leanings of your parents, your siblings, a teacher, a coach, or your current boss, the expectations, no matter how subliminal, play a huge role in your life. If you can use those assumptions to your advantage, I firmly believe your odds of success increase exponentially.  Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”  The courage put forth, is often the difference between positive and negative results.
  2. Expectations may set us up for failure – When expectations are high, there is a tendency to feel a letdown when things don’t go as planned. The flipside is when expectations are low; motivation is usually absent, which has subsequent problems as well.  I’ve certainly struggled in the area of expectations.  There’s definitely been a fair share of self-implications and those of others that I’ve gone over in my head repeatedly.  I didn’t start up quick enough; I’m not revenue-positive soon enough; shoulda, woulda, coulda.  I would just add to the ‘quit statistic’ rapidly, if I fail to capitalize on those expectations.  What other reason for a high fail rate in business startups would there be, other than the fact that it’s crazy hard to make it.  But, expecting to fail is really a core problem here, if I keep that mindset.
  3. Difficult to tell “good” and realistic from the negative – Deciphering good expectations from negative and detrimental ones is a difference-maker. I try to use some as positive encouragement, and other negatives I use as a benchmark.  Working hard to ensure that those negative assumptions never materialize.  I reflect back on horrible work situations I’ve been in through years past.  Or some struggles through school and such.  Becoming self-aware of which expectations are healthy, and which are harmful is essential.

Be your own filter for these assumptions, but be hard on yourself.  Walt Disney was right, the dreams can come true, but there is courageous pursuit involved.  Meeting expectations is incredibly subjective.  Remember that.  If you don’t set them correctly, disaster can ensue.