I’ve been speaking to my clients about expectations vs agreements. So often we live our lives by expecting someone to do something. When people break our expectations, we are disappointed, sometimes angry. When people act in according with our expectations, we are pleased but not excited. We did in the end expect it, e.g. you might expect your partner to buy you a particular present for your birthday. When he or she does so, it is nice but you kind of expected it. And yet we love having an unexpected surprise or unexpected delight! It feels much more energising! So if we live our lives by expectations, we have two outcomes: disappointment or a low level satisfaction.
Often we do not even stop to ask ourselves what exactly is my expectation from a situation or relationship or interaction. What do I actually need? If we have not stopped to understand our own expectations and needs, it is unlikely we communicated those to another person. Communicating our needs to another person without demanding, with honesty, authenticity and vulnerability as a request starts with being clear about our needs ourselves first. Ask yourself, what do I need from this situation or interaction and how can another person and me make an agreement to which both of us truly commit?
I’ve been speaking about expectations vs agreements to my children. My older daughter had a wonderful insight. During half term, we were lucky to go on holiday to sunny Madeira. Unexpectedly, we were upgraded to an amazing suite in a more exclusive part of the hotel we were staying at. Everything since that moment on this holiday was an unexpected delight.
Then one day, another guest started speaking to my daughter about how cold the infinity pool was (nice problem you say..) and how she was disappointed with it. You can really feel the disappointment of this lady: it was clearly a long awaited holiday which she hoped would live up to her expectation of perfection.
After that conversation, my daughter reflected to me: “When we arrived here, we did not have any expectations, so anything feels a delight. Even if pancakes are not available one morning, somehow, it is still all great, or even if the sun is hidden by clouds”. She asked me: “I wonder how’d we feel if we paid full price for those suites? Might be as this lady in the pool did?..”
Money paid a month ago for a holiday is “sunk cost”. Every business person knows the concept. What if we approach every day and every experience from a position of “a blank sheet” of no expectations? And consider previous experiences something to learn from but fundamentally “sunk costs”. Imagine, how exciting life can become! Every day as an unexpected surprise and a gift..
Where in your life your expectations are holding you back from creating the life full of delights. If you’d like to have a conversation about it, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com
Have a delightful day!