According to Merriam-Webster, expectation is defined as, “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future – or be a certain way.”
That’s a pretty straightforward definition, right?! Yet, “expectation” is a word that frequently tends to get a bad rap.
What have you been told about having expectations?
What has your history taught you about having them?
Are you someone who is shy about having and expressing them? Or, are you bold in both respects?
I am a huge fan of expectations (as you may have guessed). Though, I, too, am a work in progress when it comes to owning and communicating mine. But in my opinion…
They help to shape your day-to-day reality, as well as the future reality you want to experience. They show up in every relationship (even the one you have with yourself.)
Yet, they do come with a bit of a paradox:
There’s one view that says having expectations that are too high or “unrealistic” is what leads to disappointment and frustration.
Then there’s the view that having expectations that are too low or “realistic” is what allows you to be surprised if the outcome you want happens and less defeated if it doesn’t.
And yet another says having high expectations and high standards leads to success – in life, with money, and in business.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been talking about relationships.
I first asked you to see the parallels between important relationships in your life and your relationship with money.
Then, I asked you to consider how the traits that make a relationship healthy (or not) also show up in your relationship with money.
Today, I want you to think about the role of expectations in your relationships.
Because whether you’re looking at your relationship with a family member or best friend; your money; or, your business as an entity or its prospects, clients or customers, expectations are bound to enter into the picture.
Managing the Tension
Expectations are not only a natural part of life, one might say managing them is a critical skill that continuously needs to be refined.
The “management” part is where the tension frequently shows up.
The tension comes from discovering more about the expectations you have, as well as those others have of you. This also includes getting curious about the source of your expectations.
The tension comes from the process of adapting your expectations and being flexible – especially when you don’t want to.
The tension comes from trying to control what you cannot.
The tension comes from not communicating your expectations – and this may even include not being honest with yourself about what you want and believe you deserve.
To help you manage the different dimensions of this tension, I offer up the following:
Explicit vs Implicit
Think about the most recent time you were disappointed by an experience or outcome, or had a disagreement with someone. What was the role of your expectations?
Whether you’d describe the role as large or small, I bet it was a factor. And I also bet the difference between explicit and implicit expectations played a role, too.
With person-to-person relationships, it’s easier to notice the disconnect when you thought you were clear, but really weren’t. And though less obvious, this disconnect can also show up with your money and in business.
Are you really clear about what you want money to do for you? Similar question about what you want from your business today…and in the future.
I acknowledge my bias with this recommendation, but one of the reasons I proudly suggest the free exercise – the Financial Wheel – is because it’s a way to “tell” money what you want it to do for you. It’s also a way to “tell” your business what you want it to do for you, too.
Expectations, whether explicit or implicit, represent an agreement.
Agreements represent boundaries. And, boundaries are not static – they can shift for any host of reasons. Hence, the need to be open, flexible and adaptive.
This is why it’s important to have a process for checking in with yourself to see if your current agreements need to be renegotiated. Even those you have with yourself. 🙂
You can influence outcomes. But you can only control effort.
And all of your expectations require effort; you definitely play a part in fulfilling them.
To behave differently is to participate in magical thinking.
This is one of the reasons I believe expectations get a bad rap: folks are trying to control outcomes, when their attention should be on controlling their effort.
Does this feel like I’m tapping on your shoulder with a gentle reminder?
The thing about expectations is that they lead to conversations – in your head, with others, and with “external” things like money and business.
Hopefully, these conversations:
- Lead to understanding
- Help you navigate conflict with a bit more ease and grace
- Help you unabashedly own what you want and believe you deserve
As I said earlier, I’m a fan of expectations – particularly high expectations. In my opinion, the difference between low and high expectations is that the former keeps you on the defensive, playing not to lose.
You get to set your expectations in life, with money, and in business.
You get to determine the relationship between your expectations and success or failure.
But if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, it’s this: Have high expectations and high standards!
Let this become what is meant by “self-fulfilling prophecy.”