One of the most important things we can do in life is set expectations, for ourselves and for others. Setting expectations has a few critical benefits.
First, it allows you to live with more intention because it leverages advanced decision making. The reality is we often know what we want to be doing, we want to work out, eat healthy, make that phone call, but our present emotional and physical state encourages us to do otherwise. But setting expectations reminds us of what our best self wants to do, not what our mind is telling us in context.
The second thing it does is it creates accountability to act in accordance with your expectations. When you don’t it creates cognitive dissonance, which is simply a tension in your mind between what you expected and what happened in reality.
Taking a unique spin on this, I want to encourage you to think about how you can reset expectations. Sometimes, when you set expectations you don’t have enough information to determine what you truly want. You know what you think you want, but when the time comes it could be different.
For example, let’s say that you’re out at a birthday party and you decided you only want to spend 2 hours there because you have a lot of errands to do. But then say that a friend you haven’t seen in ages turns up to the party right as you’re leaving. Is it worth dismissing your commitment to only stay for two hours to spend time with your friend? Maybe, maybe not, and that’s where you need to reset expectations in real-time.
The value of setting expectations is it brings more consciousness to your decision making. It helps you make choices that align with what you want from a wider lens than simply responding to the moment. Having made a judgment in advance then gives you a point of reference to make new decisions against, with new information, to evaluate how things have changed.
Is this a slippery slope? Sure, it could be, but life is unpredictable and it’s important to be able to accommodate spontaneity and opportunity when it arises. What’s important is that you address this spontaneity with intentionality and stay in the habit of doing what serves you most.
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