NN005 – Expectations

Expectation (noun) – a belief that someone will or should achieve something.

Life’s little Potholes

We all move through life in a subtle but constant state of anticipation. Maybe it’s a positive state – looking forward to the weekend, getting to see friends or family. Maybe you are up for a promotion at work or your kid won the starring role in the school play.

What if that anticipation isn’t positive? Will my job review be bad next week? I wonder when the car will break down next? Is my spouse going to be mad at me again?

Anticipation is a result of the Expectations you have established for that event. Expectations can be a great motivator or they can completely derail an effort if they are unmet. Some of the more frustrating times in my life were around unmet expectations.

If I found myself disagreeing with someone, it was usually because my expectations weren’t met.

The trouble is, they didn’t know what my expectations were.

Is it really their fault then?

What if you were to change your mindset around expectations? Unmet expectations are almost always a byproduct of two things – they are unattainable or they are poorly communicated.

What if we took a new approach and made sure those expectations were realistic and clearly expressed to the one who will carry that burden

  • Proper Expectations?
  • Communication
  • Adjust

Proper Expectations?

It would be foolish of me to expect my 8-year-old son to know how to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the family. He doesn’t have the skills, knowledge or attention span to spend the day cooking all of the components of a classic Thanksgiving dinner.

The first thing to ask yourself is “can that person actually do what I am expecting of them?” Yes, a small push past their comfort zone is understandable but make sure you aren’t setting the both of you up for failure.

Placing an unrealistic expectation on someone who won’t be able to complete that task is a recipe for disaster


This is the most important step. Poorly communicated expectations are impossible to meet. Read that again – IMPOSSIBLE. If I expect my kids to keep their rooms clean but I never tell them, how is it fair to get mad at them when their rooms look like a pig pen?

Conversely, if I have repeatedly asked my son to mow the lawn before he goes out with his buddies then I have every right to tell him he can’t go if the grass is not cut.

Don’t place the burden of expectation on someone without letting them know – it will not end well.


How did it go? Were your expectations met? If not, why? What could be done differently next time? Do you need to adjust what you expect or does the other party need to do better?

Understanding where the breakdown happened is key to knowing what to do next. Without this step there won’t be any way to improve moving forward.

That’s why we are discussing this right? If your current expectations are going mostly unmet it’s time to re-evaluate and reset those expectations.

Is it you or them?

There is nothing in life more frustrating than something that doesn’t go the way that you expect it to. Anxiety, stress and conflict are just some of the byproducts of unmet expectations.

Instead of living in that state of mind, ask yourself if there is something you can do to improve the outcome.

That will increase the likelihood of a positive result for you and those you expect things from

Leave a Reply