Managing expectations is key

We need keys to unlock things.  Keys may not look like this anymore, but we still need keys to get into places or things. I want to share a key today - a very simple key, that if used on a consistent basis will make a big difference in every part of your life. The key is ... MANAGING EXPECTATIONS! Most conflict, anger, disappointment or frustration comes from expectations not being met.  Often they are not met because we failed to clearly set them up front. Steven Covey calls Managing Expectations the preventative rule; if we remember to do it, it prevents all sorts of bad feelings.  We all have expectations about everything - time, money, quality, effort - just to name a few things. Not only do we mismanage our expectations of others, but also we mismanage expectations of ourselves.

Do you ever start out your day with a long to-do list only to be disappointed at the end of the day when you didn't get to very many things on the list? I do it frequently, and it's usually because I expect that things won't take as long as they actually do.

Are you ever disappointed with the quality of someone's work (spouse, child, employee, boss, friend)? Before you get angry with them, stop to think about how carefully you managed the expectations of what 'good' would look like from your perspective.

At this point, I hope you are starting to think of all sorts of things where you are disappointed in yourself or others - good!  Make the list and in each case, analyze what your expectations were.  Did you even bother to share expectations with someone? Oftentimes, we assume that others have the same expectations as us.  NOT TRUE!   It can be over something as small as the length of a meeting or a trip to run errands.  "Want to run a couple of errands with me?" could mean 20 minutes to one person and an hour to the other person - 40 minutes difference can make for a lot of frustration.

Sometimes I am really good at this, and other times I am terrible. When I feel myself getting disappointed on a regular basis or entering into more conflict than I like, I can typically trace it back to mismanaged expectations. My challenge for you this week is to grab hold of this simple key and unlock more peaceful, agreeable, satisfactory moments in your life.


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