Monday, October 29, 2012

Managing Expectations

We all have a tendency to measure our relative level of happiness and success according to our
'expectations'.  If we fall short of our expectations we are disappointed, meet them we're satisfied, exceed them and we are delighted. As a result, we use our expectations to define whether or not something good has happened, whether we are successful (or not), whether we are happy (or not).

At no point in this equation though, are we evaluating whether our expectations were a useful or helpful measure.  We don't stop to consider whether the result produced by our actions delighted us, was productive, proved valuable or if it even made us happier.  Without this final measure we may continue to work toward meeting or exceeding expectations that don't, in fact, net us the desired return.

We need to build in an extra step, to measure the gains from the actual result.  

Failed to meet Expectations?

Fail to meet your expectations on an initiative?  Before you convince yourself that you 'must' be disappointed and need to work harder on this...  assess how you really are feeling.  If you don't feel as disappointed as anticipated, you may find that it wasn't a goal that truly mattered as much to you as once believed.  In fact, this lack of connection to the end result may account for your falling short on the result and may indicate that spending more time on developing this area is time wasted for you.

Met Expectations?
Met expectations but not feeling as 'satisfied' with the result as anticipated?  If you find you are feeling disappointed despite having 'achieved' your goal, this may indicate a goal that means more to you than you led yourself to believe or that you actually have higher expectations for yourself than you had thought.  Only by being clear about a goal's relative importance to you can you accurately judge the effort you should expend in its achievement.  

Exceeded Expectations?
Exceeded expectations but also not feeling satisfied with the results?  This could be a sign of two things.  Either you worked hard at exceeding a goal that really didn't have much perceived value to you (in which case you expended unnecessary effort) or you set your expectations bar too low on this goal.  Despite having exceeded the stated goal you may find that you actually wanted 'more'.  Being safe in setting the goal, but less than honest with yourself about what you actually want, may serve to undermine your level of happiness and sense of achievement.

It is only by being absolutely clear with yourself about what your expectations are for yourself that you can truly drive your resulting level of satisfaction, happiness and success.  Put your energy into achieving those things that truly matter to you, expending less on those areas that don't.  We all have a limited amount of energy.  Creating the best possible life for yourself means expending your energy in ways that create the most value for you.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog is all about and for you! I welcome your comments, criticisms, added thoughts and insights. Feel free to share openly with everyone here on the blog but know that if you want to share something directly with me, you can do so by emailing me.