The society is telling us that expectations aren’t good and it’s not good to have expectations. When you go to a shrink, the chances are they’ll tell you the same.
You always hear that is not good to have expectations, but nobody is telling you how to live a life without expectations. That’s because you can’t.
To give up entirely to your expectations means to be detached from everything around you, which is hard because it would mean living your life without getting emotionally involved. Which is even harder because it requires a very profound understanding of what’s going on around you.
Instead, if it’s so damn hard (almost impossible) to make your expectations go away, maybe you should stop throwing stones at them and try to understand why it is good to have expectations and how it helps you.
I believe expectations are important and, even though they’re unpleasant, they’re valuable. And I’ll speak more about these things in a second. But until then, I’d like to share with you a hypothetical situation to showcase why expectations will always be present in your life.
Imagine that Andrew is calling you and it’s important for him to meet tomorrow, at 14:00, right in front of your favorite coffee shop, to discuss something really important to Andrew.
Who’s Andrew? Whoever you want to be. He can be a friend. He can be your brother, with whom you haven’t spoken in 4 years. Maybe it’s your university teacher or a colleague from work. It doesn’t really matter.
From the moment you accept to get involved and you agree to meet with Andrew, you create the expectation that Andrew will show up tomorrow at the mentioned time and location. But Andrew isn’t showing up.
And you start getting mad. You trusted Andrew to show up because, after all, it was important to him. But Andrew didn’t show up and your expectations (which have been created by Andrew and over which you have little control) have turned upside down.
Yes, you can stay calm and say that it happened, that maybe he couldn’t show up because something happened. And then you call Andrew to see what happened. But only a few people are doing this – extremely few. Most of the time, the negative emotion starts right from the moment you understand that Andrew is late and it’s completely manifested when you understand that Andrew won’t show up.
It’s important to have expectations
Expectations aren’t the healthiest thing you can have in your life, but they’re important.
Imagine you want to run a marathon. Running a marathon requires you to run 42 kilometers, in a limited time, often of 6 hours. If you don’t set the expectation to run 42 kilometers, for sure you’ll stop after 20 kilometers. If you don’t set the expectation to run 40 kilometers, your training will be weak and you’ll give up the idea of running a marathon.
Yes, at the other side of your expectations you’ll find yourself giving up.
If you don’t expect anything from your life and there’s no desire, you’ll give up living.
I had a friend who wanted to detach entirely from everything. And he did it so much that he wasn’t doing anything with his life – he was just floating around. He ended up suggesting that I should do things because I’m passionate about personal development, things that he also would have wanted to do before giving up on himself. He was in such a situation because he had so many expectations that didn’t manifest and eventually he became extremely disappointed – so disappointed he quit.
Nonetheless, expectations are important and it’s good to have expectations.
When you expect something to happen, you start putting in the effort towards the thing that you expect to happen. And even though, at the end of your journey, your expectations are still expectations, the effort you made helped you grow.
In fact, if you manage your disappointments, your expectations are an important part of your growth.
What’s so unpleasant at expectations and how to find value inside expectations
As you’ve probably guessed, the unpleasant part of having expectations are the disappointments.
In the previous example, you’re disappointed with Andrew because he didn’t show up at the meeting he requested. If, at that moment, you let your disappointment take over, you’ll give up helping others.
In the example with the marathon, in case you don’t finish the marathon in the expected time (and you don’t get the medal) and you let the disappointment take over, you’ll give up running marathons.
And maybe you want to stay in your comfort zone because you’ve been disappointed too much and you don’t feel like experiencing it anymore.
Well, maybe you have to grow up a bit.
In this life, which you choose to stop living, feeling disappointed is better than the feeling you have when you give yourself up. From the moment you stop living and until you’ll die, you’ll start feeling the taste of regret.
You’ll regret that you didn’t travel often. You’ll regret that you stopped helping others, considering you loved doing it. You’ll regret that you didn’t try once again to monetize your passion, after you already tried for three years. You’ll regret…
Therefore, what do you choose?
Do you choose to be disappointed or to live in regret?
I choose to keep going towards my expectations and to be disappointed that my idealist vision doesn’t match the way society wants me to live my life. And I’d choose to be disappointed every day even if it makes me depressed, instead of stopping and then regretting that I didn’t do the things I love doing.