Expectations

What kind of expectations do you place on yourself? Are they reasonable? Do we even know what reasonable is?

I'm learning to change my relationship with expectations. They really aren't as helpful as they might seem at first glance.

One of the things we believe is that the only thing we have control over is our own choices. Our choices to do or not do things and our choices on how we respond to the events and situations happening around us. Expectations of specific outcomes are not something we have control over, no matter how much we want them to be.

We almost always get it wrong

Expectations of a specific outcome or even a specific path to the desired outcome are simply guesses. We don't have control over how things will play out. You can't control how your body will respond to all the events of your life and some may leave you injured or not able to push as hard in the gym as you'd like. You might feel 100% great and put in all the work that on paper says that you'll hit a new personal record and then when the time comes to test your strength you don't have the performance you were expecting.

How many times have you had to have a conversation with someone and you go into it having an expectation of how it will go only to have the conversation go in an unexpected direction? Probably every single time. Setting these kinds of expectations is like trying to see the future. When you don't meet your expectations you feel bad and aren't very nice to yourself. All because of something that you didn't have any control over.

Try this instead. When you find yourself expecting a certain outcome take a step back and think about what are the things that need to take place to potentially reach that outcome. Now take another step back and define the choices you need to make to put yourself on that path. Then keep your sights set on making those choices and not on the final outcome. If at some point you manage to reach that desired outcome then cool but the more important thing and the things that should be celebrated are all the good choices you made along the way.

We end up living in the expected future and not in the present

It's easy to get wrapped up in what we want to happen in our future. You might want a better job, a different house, a new car, or a new personal record on your 400m run but by focusing on that next thing all time we miss out an all the goodness right now.

I find myself doing this all the time. We are constantly trying to improve CrossFit 43 North for our members and all the members that will join us sometime in the future but the work is never done. As soon as one task is complete a new one pops up and right now we have more ideas for improving than time or money to make them happen. But if I spend all my time reaching toward our expectation of what we want this gym to be I'll miss all the amazing things that are happening right in front of my eyes.

We have doubled our number of members in the past year and it's an honor that each one of those people trusts us as their coaches. We get to play a part in helping them change their lives for the better. Sometimes I forget to slow down and participate in and celebrate those changes because I'm so focused on making the gym even better.

We also see this play out daily in the lives of our members. They come in and do something they've never done before and yet they fail to celebrate it as much as maybe they should because they've already moved on to the next thing. It goes something like this "That was 5lbs more than I was able to do last time." I'll say, "Congratulations that's awesome!" and then they'll say, "but I really wanted to do 10lbs more" or "ya but it's not as heavy as Sally does." Both of these statements are about expectations one for what was to happen today and the other is about a someday that they'll be able to lift as much as Sally. Neither really gives enough attention to how awesome it is that they were able to do something at that moment that they were incapable of doing earlier in their life.

I don't know if doing away with all expectations is reasonable or even possible but I do know we could be more mindful about the expectations we do have. Break them down, understand why you have them and pay more attention to the daily choices and progress you make toward reaching your goals rather than whether or not your expectations were met.