The Power Of Expectation
One thing that I’ve come to notice is that expectation seems to be inexorably linked to how I feel about certain situations or experiences. For example, I’ve noticed that when I’m looking forward to something I regularly end up disappointed and vice versa I can be left pleasantly surprised.
It is also a concept that seems to apply to how I sell myself. I tend to undersell so that I don’t have to face the pressure of people expecting too much from me. I don’t like the idea of being taken on for a job that I over sold myself for and can’t possibly achieve as fully as I promised. I know of another guy that is the opposite and will reveal how long he’s spent on a project or make claims to it being the best work he’s ever done; The thought of doing this makes me cringe slightly because I feel like people will judge it by a higher standard. I’ve noticed that when I’m in the company of people that are on the side of big-headedness – even if they are genuinely talented – I’ve looked closer to find criticisms that I might not have if they’d been a little more modest. Then again, what I do isn’t ideal because it’s running the risk of being overlooked and people are often drawn to and reassured by confidence.
The expectations that others have for us can also affect us (as suggested by ‘The Rules of Persuasion, The Rules of Expectation—The Impact of Suggestion‘ and ‘How do Parental Expectations Affect Kids?’) Having high expectations put upon us can help us to push ourselves to succeed, whereas feeling like people have lost faith in us can pull us the other way. I have also been in situations where I had too many high opposing expectations set on me from different directions – parents, teachers and peers – and it led to a lot of stress because no matter what I did It never seemed to be good enough (we shouldn’t always strive for perfection.) What we expect from ourselves is also important – how can we be motivated on a project if we go in already expecting to fail? I think this is a problem that is currently affecting my own levels of motivation as I had a few setbacks, causing others to question my choices in life and in turn leading to a lack of belief in myself. Previously my family, teachers and peers had only ever bigged up what I was capable of.
Expectation can colour our view on life. When I’m entering a new situation I try to set my expectations appropriately. If I’m expecting something to be brilliant I may end up disappointed or making up excuses for why it is lacking, and on the other side of that if I’m expecting something to be terrible I’ll be more likely to search for faults even though my initial assumption may be wrong. The same goes for how we treat others. If we have unfair expectations of our friends/family we will be all the more likely to feel let down by them, but at the same time we could get hurt if we don’t at least expect them to treat us kindly. We should all expect to be treated with a certain level of respect after all. Finally, our own behaviour can be altered by others expectations of us or what we expect from ourselves. If we want to get the best out of ourselves, surrounding ourselves with the right people can really help. We should expect ourselves fully capable of succeeding, but set reasonable goals to get there otherwise we run the risk of causing ourselves a lot of stress.