Think about the expectations you have for yourself.
The big ones like getting in shape or being done with ‘the whole weight thing’. The little ones like going to the store without having your car dinged by a shopping cart. Even the everyday ones like getting things crossed off your to-do list.
We all have expectations peppered throughout our days.
It’s good to have them. It’s a happiness booster to have something to look forward to and be hopeful about.
Positive expectations can be like little springs on the bottom of our feet.
“Of course that will happen”
“Yes I can do that”
“Everything will work out”
But what happens when something doesn’t go as expected?
Generally we react in one of two ways:
1.We go directly to “I knew that would happen” land.
Returning to a belief system that things rarely go your way. That God is laughing at you because you expected things to go as planned.
Shocked that we didn’t go as far as we hoped. Discouraged that maybe we never will. Or we just force ourselves to be happy with how it went and try to move on. (Quietly still believing that it wasn’t good enough).
Just like that, positive expectations can be flipped to negative ones.
I would like to offer a third reaction.
One that will keep us moving forward regardless of what happened (or didn’t happen).
A reaction that will feel good even though we are looking at a perceived failure.
A reaction that will help us simply step over the crumbled mess of our old expectations and keep walking towards something better.
When we see that things didn’t go as expected, we need to take a good look at what occurred. Not in an I-will-never-do-that-again way.
But in a way that exposes the good moments that happened instead.
The learning moments
When things don’t go as expected, it forces you to go into uncharted territory. And you can always find wisdom when you are put on a new path.
You have been working hard. Eating right, exercising. Doing what you think you should to lose weight.
But the scale says you gained 2 pounds this week.
Not what you expected.
But what can you learn?
Your body is communicating with you. You learn how it speaks. How it tells you something is off.
Maybe it’s reacting to a food you ate. Maybe it’s telling you that you need more sleep or less exercise.
Gaining weight is a way your body communicates valuable information to you.
In that moment of failed expectations, you discover how to listen to your body. No, you didn’t lose weight as expected, but if you look for the learning moments, you can gain so much more.
The adventure moments
One of the best beliefs a person can have is that there is adventure everywhere.
Recently my hubs and I attempted a challenge. We were walking for 20 hours in honor of some veterans who are very dear to us.
The walk did not go as expected. It was hotter, more humid and all around more grueling than we thought it would be. And we did not last very long at all.
Definitely not how we expected.
But we accepted the challenge with open arms. We camped out in a park in downtown Dallas (surrounded by what felt like the entire DPD). We met some fascinating people and heard their stories. At the end of the day, it wasn’t about how far we walked or even about our expectations to go farther. It was about this crazy thing we did together. It was about us holding hands for that last mile, tired, hurting, over it. It was about turning to him and saying “I’m so glad I’m doing this with you”.
That failed expectation melted away and turned into a fantastic, unexpected, adventure I got to have with someone I love.
Disappointment was nowhere to be found.
The gratitude moments
I was coaching a client who had planned to stop eating dinner when she was satisfied. She wanted to learn all that you do when you don’t eat when you’re not hungry.
Dinner didn’t go as expected. She ate until she was stuffed and disgusted.
And she was very disappointed. She felt like she would never be able to do it.
So we looked at the learning moments. We looked at the adventure moments. And we found an especially potent gratitude moment.
She found gratitude in her awareness. She was quickly able to identify her thoughts. With that, she recognized what was going on and exactly what she would do next to improve her game.
Having things not go as expected allowed her to see how sharp her awareness had become. It turned her disappointment into accomplishment in a matter of minutes. And she was so grateful to see she had developed this amazing new skill that works so quickly.
When things don’t go as expected it feels like a rug being pulled out from under you. Even when you are careful not to have expectations, they still exist on some level.
Positive expectations are great to have. They help foster an optimistic outlook and give you something to look forward to in the future. Both are key components of happiness.
We just need to make sure to keep the positive expectations going when things don’t turn out as intended.
Expect things to turn out well. But don’t stop there.
Expect there to be adventure.
Expect there to be wisdom.
Expect there to be an abundance of gratitude.
On the big things, the little things and the everyday things.
Expect it to turn out well no matter what actually happens.
Because when things go wrong, something very right will take their place.
Elevate your expectations and look for your moments.
You will not be disappointed.
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Think about the expectations you have for yourself.