“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about YOUR plans.”
– Woody Allen
This quote isn’t about religion or manifest destiny, or anything of the sort.
This quote is about expectations, the belief that something in the future will turn out in a predictable way.
The video by Tommy Rosen adds some clarity about unmet expectations:
We often have expectations about what our life “should” be like, what other people “should” do, or how certain situations “should” turn out.
These expectations generally have an emotion tied to them — somewhere along a continuum of very positive feelings, to neutral feelings, to very negative feelings.
For example, many, many years ago I expected my parents to give me a new pair of snow skis for Christmas.
I just “knew” that I was getting new skis, and I was so excited that I could barely keep the emotion all in.
Christmas day came, and as the morning waned, I realized that I was not getting new skis after all.
Ok, ok, I was being selfish, but that’s beside the point……
The point is, I was very disappointed, and I acted like a little brat; I was moody and cranky all day, and I was a real pain for everyone in the family!
Whose fault was it that I felt so disappointed, angry, hurt, and frustrated?
The fault was all mine, of course.
I created a fantasy in my head of what that moment would be like when I was presented with a brand new pair of skis.
When my fantasy didn’t come true, I allowed a resentment to take control of my feelings and my behavior.
I never forgot how I felt and how I took my resentments out on people I cared about, and how unfairly I treated others who I felt were responsible for my disappointment.
When I finally realized just how unfair and selfish I had been, I resented myself because I “should” have reacted with maturity.
We’ve all had unmet expectations in relationships and in business.
How do you react when things don’t go as planned?
While I didn’t learn the lesson right away, I eventually learned to let go of expectations and to accept things as they are.
That’s not to say that I don’t plan or prepare — I certainly do plan and prepare and in doing so, I can have reasonable expectations about outcomes, insofar as I have control over my thoughts and actions.
Holding on to rigid expectations is the part that’s so dangerous.
The key is to acknowledge that people, places and things that you have no control over may be in the mix.
A good strategy is to remain flexible and open to possible alternative outcomes, and accepting the actual outcome, whether or not the outcome is the expectation, especially when factors beyond your control come into play.
Ask Yourself These Questions…
- Who gets punished when your expectations aren’t met?
- Have you ever been disappointed when someone didn’t react in the way you expected? How did you handle the situation?
- Was your strategy effective? If so, great, what did you learn? If not, what did you learn and have you tried new strategies in similar situations?
Please share your answers in the comments below!
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