Enjoy Greater Happiness and Success by Managing Your Expectations

by Gideon Hanekom
July 27, 2015

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“When you learn to accept rather than expect, you will have fewer disappointments.”

The Mind Unleashed

I posted the above quote on Facebook recently.

Incidentally, I also had a conversation about expectations and disappointment with a colleague today.

So I figured, maybe we need to think about this for a moment today.

If you’re a fan of Charles Dickens, you know that great expectations can lead to house fires and being pursued by escaped convicts.

The consequences are usually more subtle in real life, but managing your expectations can make you happier and more successful.

In fact, psychologists believe that the most effective approach is to aim high while being flexible and realistic.

So here are a few simple tips for enjoying great expectations while you turn some setbacks into victories.

Setting Your Expectations

1. Distinguish between goals and expectations.

This is an important distinction to make.

You can want to lose 30 pounds or buy a new car without letting your happiness depend on such events.

The moment it does, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

You must learn to be detached from the outcome to create the outcome faster.

It might sound like a contradiction, but test me on this.

It’s how things work.

Work with whatever circumstances come your way.

Replace disappointment with acceptance and curiosity.

You’ll create results faster this way.

2. Let go of the past.

Most of our expectations are based on our previous and past experiences.

So examine your old habits, assess their purpose and value, and make conscious choices about how you want to live.

Replace them if need be.

3. Raise the bar.

Ambitious goals challenge you to try harder.

You must aim to hone your skills and rack up achievements that build your confidence.

Even if you need more than one try, every small step in the right direction is you making some progress.

Hold on to that idea and keep moving forward.

4. Savour the anticipation.

Another advantage to reaching high is that it gives you so much to look forward to.

You feel motivated to put forth your best efforts when you remember the rewards.

So hold the best possible outcome in your mind.

5. Be realistic.

At the same time, keeping your goals and expectations reasonable reduces stress.

Understand your abilities and strengths.

Calculate what resources you have available.

Also, work out what you lack.

Then go to work.

Some Ideas on Dealing with Your Expectations

1. Communicate clearly.

Hidden assumptions can make it complicated to figure out the true expectations of others, as well as our own thoughts.

Listen closely and ask probing questions of yourself to discern your inner being’s true need and intent.

2. Start early.

There’s a good reason why major campaigns schedule pre-launch meetings, and employers orient new hires.

It’s easier to agree on expectations at the start rather than trying to resolve conflicts after someone feels let down later on.

3. Reinterpret setbacks.

When you’re facing outcomes that are less than ideal, remain calm, and give yourself a pep talk.

Think about previous ordeals that helped you to grow stronger.

Extract the best lessons from those and apply them to your current situation.

4. Plan for contingencies.

Temporary bumps in the road won’t seem like such a big deal when you’ve already mapped out a detour route.

Spot potential obstacles in advance so you’ll be prepared.

5. Accept change.

Are your expectations keeping up with the times?

Check on whether you’re putting aside enough savings for your retirement years and have the latest qualifications to excel in your professional field.

6. Establish priorities.

Exceeding expectations can be a wise decision if it helps you to land a new client or give your family a vacation they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, sometimes good enough is okay.

You may feel less stressed if you serve salad and sandwiches for dinner on Monday nights instead of cooking a hot meal.

7. Seize opportunities.

Managing expectations can be especially rewarding when your hard work pays off better than you hoped.

Maybe your hobby will turn into a profitable small business or you’ll meet your future spouse on a blind date.

Bask in your good fortune and share your blessings with others.

8. Negotiate skillfully.

Even when you’re comfortable with your expectations, you may still need to adjust them to accommodate others.

Try to be patient and build goodwill while steering clear of excessive demands.

Take away…

Set ambitious goals without creating rigid expectations. 

Know that you can use any set of circumstances to learn and grow.

Your future will look brighter even if it turns out differently from the vision you hold today.

It’s OK if things work out differently than expected.

I believe there is a reason for it all, and a lesson in it all.

live and love fully my friend 1 expectations

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a renowned relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website shares valuable insights on creating healthy relationships life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling more than a decade ago. In addition, he since completed post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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