My wife bought my daughters (4&7) some popadoms yesterday and when they had finished she was surprised and upset that they had left a mess at the table and on the floor with crumbs everywhere. I asked her what she expected?
I am regularly finding myself in situations where people expect something that is either unrealistic, unnecessary or inappropriate given the situation. The result is often disappointment on their part because their expectations were not truly in line with what was either possible, practical or appropriate. How often in life are we disappointed because our expectations were not realistic? Did we expect to be able to go abroad on holiday 5 times a year, to different exotic places each time? Did we expect to have the “perfect” life, with “perfect relationships, no concerns or worries with children who never destroy that cherished heirloom or expensive piece of furniture?
What about at work? Are our expectations at work realistic? Do they fit into the reality of where we are now and where we are going? I wonder how much stress and frustration in life is down not so much to what is achieved as it is to what was expected. A quote at the bottom of a little desk calendar the other day said “Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits” Robert Louis Stevenson. There are hundreds of other quotes out there about failure and success and in life we seem almost obsessed with these terms. What is failure and what is success? Aren’t they both just measures of our expectations? Aren’t they just two ends of a spectrum and we can draw the line anywhere we like? Can we not be successful in life by having realistic expectations and that continuing drive to do better? At what point does it change from failure to success?
Expectations play an important part in our lives – in many ways they determine our happiness and contentment with our lot. If you’re not happy with yours, is it because what you have is insufficient? or is it merely not aligned with your expectations? Maybe the next time you think that things are not going well, that this shouldn’t have happened or that you wish you could do things differently, you should check you expectations first. Were they realistic? Did you even think about the possibilities or just make assumptions about what would happen?
We are having a few friends over for a BBQ later – the weather may be turning to rain later today. If we set our expectations correctly we can still have a great day. If we get too set on a specific expectation we are most likely going to be disappointed, our choice!