How to Solve the Dilemma of Setting Expectations - Think Deep

How to Solve the Dilemma of Setting Expectations

We were probably introduced to the dilemma of setting expectations when we were in school.

We would take a test and then ask our friends afterward what they thought they got on the test.

You could always find yourself getting these three types of responses.

Response A: The person expects the worst case scenario with the logic being if he does fail, at least he was right and if he does better than that, he’s happy that he exceeded his expectations.

Response B: The person sets very high expectations, which has the potential of setting up that person to fall big time and if he does, it sends him on a downward spiral that’s hard to get out of – a lot of questioning and self doubt starts to plague him.

Response C: The person has no expectations so whatever the results are, it doesn’t affect him/her at all compared to the other two responses (which seems to be the best response to have at first glance).

Here’s where the dilemma arises.

If you choose Response A, the worst case scenario, it’s not a very helpful attitude to have – to always expect the worse. It can sabotage you and result in a negative self fulfilling prophecy.

If you choose Response B and set high expectations, it’s really easy to crash and go down that dark deep hole that’s very hard to climb out of.

If you choose Response C, which logically sounds the best, there’s no sense of a “drive” to do the best you can. If you never set expectations, it’s hard to progress. It’s hard to get to improve. You can’t improve. You will always stay at the level you’re in right now because you never get to measure anything to see how you can improve.

People find themselves in this dilemma when setting a goal.

Do they expect the worse so they can be at the very least, right and if they do better, be happy about it? But doesn’t that just divide you in the process? Isn’t that just shooting yourself in the foot before the game even starts?

Do they expect the best but get hit so hard that they don’t go on with their goal when the results don’t match their expectations?

Or do they expect nothing and hope they magically progress to achieve their goal without setting any sort of expectations at all?

It’s a tricky situation to be in but the answer is simple.

Let go of the need to set expectations in the BEGINNING of your journey.

You should though expect the final goal to be achieved.

It’s going to happen.

It’s a done deal.

It’s just a matter of time.

What you should NOT do is set expectations as to what the results will be of your actions, AT LEAST IN THE BEGINNING.

You take one action AND EXPECT NOTHING.

You don’t expect to fail.

You don’t expect to hit a grand slam.

You expect NOTHING.

And you see what happens.

If that one action doesn’t return anything, then you do another and EXPECT NOTHING.

You keep on doing this until you see some return on your action.

Then you have a foundation to build upon.

Then you have some data you can play with to use to START setting expectations.

For example, let’s say you set a goal to lose weight by x date.

You expect to.

It’s done.

It’s not a matter of if in your mind, but when.

You try diet #1 for two weeks.

Nothing happens. You don’t lose any weight.

You try diet #2 for two weeks.

Nothing happens. You don’t lose any weight.

You try diet #3 with some boxing for two weeks and you find you lost 1 pound.

Now you’ve got something.

If you stick to diet #3 and your boxing regimen for two weeks, you can reasonably expect to lose 1 pound during the course of those two weeks.

Now that rate might be too slow so you would want to do something to speed it up so you set an expectation of losing two pounds in two weeks and then take some action accordingly – maybe some extra running early in the morning and you see what that does and if it works great! If not, that’s ok because you still lost one pound and you scratched off a method that doesn’t work.

You keep on taking action, getting results, and with more and more results, you’re able to set better expectations that aren’t too low or too high, that will propel you to improve, to progress, to get better results, to help you better measure the impact of your actions which you can then leverage to progress even more, which helps you move faster and faster toward your goal.

You can’t expect anything if you don’t have any data to base those expectations on.

That’s why you shouldn’t expect anything IN THE BEGINNING, BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOTHING to base those expectations on.

As you go through your journey, it will be EASIER to set expectations and they will become more and more accurate and allow you to progress, to improve so that’s why you SHOULD start setting them later on.

Set them high too early – it’s easy to fall, to become discouraged, and quit.

Set them too low, it’s easy to say tell yourself you were right if nothing happened, to have that defeatist mentality, to shoot yourself in the foot before the game even starts, to adopt the habit of negative thinking and then quit.

Expect nothing in the BEGINNING so it’s easy to avoid that emotional rollercoaster and detach yourself in order to look at the results objectively and start using them to set reasonable expectations that aren’t too high or too low in order to measure, improve, and to progress.

It’s the right way to go about setting your expectations so you can do your very best.

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