Managing expectations


Summers are for barbecuing. Tonight was the perfect kind of night for some roof-top grilling. We brought the vegetables, and our friends provided the tilapia and drinks. 

There were two flavor options for drinks: lemon and cranberry. Without really looking, I cracked open the lemon expecting a sweet, tangy rush of lemon goodness, only to experience the dull, diluted, flavorless wannabe lemonade—lemon-flavored sparkling water! 

It's not that I never had sparkling water before, it's that I was expecting something else than what was delivered. 

And that's the thing about expectations, isn't it? Expectations are usually graded on the curve. You expect water, I give you lemon seltzer, your expectations change, they reset. You eat ramen your whole life, then I introduce you to real ramen, your standard for what good ramen tastes like changes. You then move to Japan—what once blew you away becomes the new standard. 

Low expectations are no good. They make it seem like something is happening when, in reality, nothing has changed. Expectations that are too high also present a challenge. You will always be expected to exceed them. Nothing, therefore, will ever be good enough. You may never be content with anything.

Here's the best way I know how to properly manage expectations: first, understand what expectations are. They need to be internally driven. They need to come from you. It's better to go into something with no expectations than someone else's. Second, good expectations are well-thought-out. They align with our hopes and our dreams. They aren't merely wishes conjured up on the whimsical thought. They represent who we are, where we intend to go, and who we anticipate becoming (given we follow the principles we establish for ourselves). Third, having great expectations is the last thing that is stopping you from turning pro. I can almost promise you that your expectations are too low, not the other way around. Great expectations allow you to explore what you never thought was possible, discover something inside yourself that has been hiding for far too long, and become the person your best-self would expect you to become. 

But those great expectations don't just come. You'll need some help. Help from people who not only understand the purpose of properly managing your expectations but also realize the importance and the value of setting your own expectations. These rare mentors won't set your expectations but will ask the right questions, lead by example, and know how to inspire you so that the expectations you set are truly great. And if you feel like those people who are closest to you now aren't meeting your expectations, maybe it's time you surround yourself with other people who care enough to help you dig deeper. Because there is nothing more valuable than having someone in your life who shares your vision, who helps you open your eyes to the possible, who expects a lot from you because they believe in you.