How Expectations Affect Your Life

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that having expectations can be dangerous. Expectations come in many forms and apply to many situations, but the one thing that is the same about all expectations – they limit your way of thinking. There’s a funny thing that happens when you go into an interaction or experience with an expectation: you look for ways to support that idea. You’ve heard that a certain person is rude and awful to have a conversation with, and when you meet them, you look for the ways they interrupt or force opinions on you. You heard that a presentation is boring, so you go in expecting it to be boring. Similarly, people have told you how amazing a place is, so you are amped for a cool adventure. What is really happening when you’re placing these expectations on situations is that you’re allowing your mind to believe there is only one outcome.

The thing is, having large expectations can lead to disappointments. You expect someone to react a certain way to big news, but they react in a negative way. You place the same expectations on all of your friends, and you’re disappointed when one of them doesn’t meet those standards. Negative expectations can, of course, lead to pleasant surprises as well, but I find that having negative expectations most likely leads to negative outcomes. A few years ago, I decided to change the way I formulate expectations. I stopped listening to what other people say. Essentially, I stopped having expectations. I didn’t go into things with any preconceived notion of how things were going to turn out. Since then, I’ve found myself feeling freer about choices I’ve made and opinions I’ve created. I’ve been able to take things at face value and accept them as they come without having an idea of how I should be taking it.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to people. What I’ve done is listened to them and then filed their information in the back of my head. Another thing to consider is that there are certain expectations that are healthy for you. For example, you should expect yourself to be successful, but it’s placing an exact value on what that means. It’s like my opinion of five year plans – it’s better to have a framework to lead your life rather than specific expectations of what your life should look like in five years. Expectations can drive you to push yourself to reach new heights, but you need to create a healthy balance of what your expectations are and what the ideal outcome will be.  Letting your mind free of expectations opens your mind, which is something I always put in my lessons learned posts. I urge you to try it and see how your experience of life changes.

When is the last time you let go of expectations?


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