New Year’s always brings about a range of emotions for many of us as we reflect upon what happened the past year and set our intentions for how we want the new year to shape itself. Many of us make resolutions, committing ourselves to goals, aspirations, and promises, most of which are broken or unrealized as early as February. It’s not a secret that the majority of resolutions fail in a short period of time. Part of this is likely attributed to having unrealistic expectations.
I’m an ambitious person by nature and generally goal oriented. After surviving some crushing failures in my life, on both a personal and professional level, I’ve come to appreciate the magic of managing my expectations. This has also been a valuable lesson learned when working with clients and setting reasonable and achievable expectations for both of us.
So what does that mean to manage expectations?
When I write about managing expectations, it means being realistic about outcomes and coming up with contingencies in case things don’t go according to the plan. It means being flexible with what the final outcome might look like. When envisioning your end goals, think about the few things that are really critical and prioritize them. Which things do you have to have, and which ones can you wiggle a bit on or even let go?
I’ve also found it helpful to avoid that devastating feeling of failure when I’m able to define my goal, but not be attached to exactly how it needs to manifest itself. For example, a common New Year’s resolution many people have is to lose weight. Some may focus on a set number of pounds to lose, but perhaps it is more useful to imagine an article of clothing you want to fit instead. Sometimes it’s more important to build muscle and tone than to reduce the numbers. The same end goal can be achieved even though it didn’t go exactly as planned.
Even though I’m goal-oriented, I’ve discovered that remaining flexible, adaptable, and most important realistic about the final outcomes has helped me to feel good about my accomplishments, especially when they don’t happen as planned (or fantasized). Sometimes it can be hard to wiggle on something that you’ve dreamed about for so long, but who knows, the outcome may also turn out better than you had ever imagined.