We cannot choose all of our circumstances, but we can choose how we deal with our circumstances
What do you expect of yourself? What do you expect from life? What do you expect to accomplish? Do you ask yourself these questions and if you don’t, why don’t you?
Whether you have taken the time to ask yourself these questions and develop answers directly relates to the quality of life you will lead and whether or not you will attain your goals and live a purposeful life.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people meander through life without any direction or without ever giving any thought to why they are here or where they are going. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a greater tragedy than a life unfulfilled simply because the person living it did not take the time to ask a few questions, commit to some thought, and expect something from themselves.
Whether we apply them to our own direction or not, expectations exist everywhere everyday. Your boss expects you to show up for work. Your spouse expects you to be home for dinner. The cashier expects you to pay for the groceries you buy. Expectations actually form the basis for our daily lives. Without any expectations, we would all be struggling against random chaos in an order less world.
With expectation, however, comes responsibility and with responsibility comes the possibility of failure. Perhaps that is why more people don’t take the time to develop their own expectations. For some, it might be easier to live a life devoid of challenge and responsibility than it would be to live a life in which you risk failing.
I think that the only real failure you can experience is that of not trying. Failure of any other kind can actually be a motivator and a learning experience.
Those who have taken the time to set an expectation, accept a challenge, and get into the arena know that the disappointment of not achieving an expected outcome is often times more than offset by the thrill of the pursuit. Participating in the game is always more exciting and fulfilling than sitting on the sideline.
If you don’t expect anything from yourself, you not only ever have a chance of winning or achieving; you don’t even get to get into the game. Some could argue that an expectation less life is safer, but no one can argue that it is more fun.
You are probably aware of the importance of setting personal goals for yourself, but setting goals without first forming valid expectations can lead to discouragement and frustration. Much like your basement forms the foundation for your house, expectations are the foundation on which your goals are built upon.
Convincing yourself of the importance of setting expectations for your life will open many doors for you especially if you understand that without committing to doing it, you will not ever get to where you are going. If you are not happy where you are and you aren’t clear on where you are headed, it is because you have not developed any expectations. This is the difference between living a life that relies solely on luck that may never materialize and living your life, the one that you and only you were destined to live.
Creating expectations of yourself will help you to grow exponentially. If you do not know what you expect from yourself, it is impossible to know what you expect from others. If you do not know what to expect from others, you will likely be unable to ever enjoy a fulfilling relationship with anyone. You will not be able to determine the qualities of a good friend if you don’t even know what you are looking for from a friend. It is also nearly impossible to enjoy a happy marriage if you don’t even know why you are getting married in the first place.
Conversely, the process of expecting things of yourself will lead to expectations of others. While it is true that you cannot experience disappointment or hurt if you never knew what to expect anyway, it is equally true that you will also never experience true love or unbridled joy and once you have experienced these things, you will immediately know that the risk is totally worth it.
Expectations are yours and yours alone. They are personal to you and can be adjusted by you at any time. It isn’t even that important that you set them properly, at least not at first. Over time, primarily through trial and error, you will become very skilled at developing them and the process will get easier. You just have to take the time to understand yourself and your surroundings, and then to figure out what all of it means to you and what you are going to do about it.
Through honest reflection and self-realization, every single one of us has the power to be great and to do great things. We have 100% control over how much thought we will put forth and the actions that will originate out of those thoughts. We have absolute power over the life we lead and whether that life will lead us to laughter or reduce us to tears.
Having a dream is an important part of living a rewarding life, but simply dreaming about something won’t make it happen. You must actually take the step of turning your dream into an expectation before you will ever achieve anything worth dreaming about. Once you have done that, the work begins so you might as well make sure that you arrive at a meaningful and significant expectation for yourself if you are going to be working hard toward achieving it.
We cannot choose all of our circumstances, but we can make it a point to choose how we will deal with whatever our circumstances are so no matter what, make it a point to have your answer ready the next time someone asks you, “Well, what did you expect?”
If you are setting expectations for yourself and leading a fulfilling life, than I expect that your answer will be…greatness!
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.