The beginning of the year is a time of desires, dreams, plans for the future and expectations. This is great: expectations help to keep the chosen way, to see the goal and go to it. But sometimes our expectations can be unfulfilled: instead of bringing us closer to the desired — turn into something unrealized. It leaves behind frustration and a little grudge. In practice, expectations crash against the wall of reality.
Today we will talk about how to protect ourselves from such disappointments and bring reality and expectations together.
Imagine a vertical line. Reality is at the low end of the line. And our expectations are on the top. Of course, this is a conventional line and just a visual image in order to describe what is happening in the psyche. Disappointment comes when there is a big gap between expectations and reality. The further one is from the other-the more our disappointment. This picture tells what you need to do – to shorten the distance between them. We can make high expectations lower and reality higher. It’s good not to go to extremes and work with each of these poles.
Make expectations lower
“I had high expectations,” is what we say when something goes wrong, upsets and disappoints us. There are no restrictions in that part of us where dreams and desires are born. We want something and easily imagine how we will get what we want. To bring your expectations closer to reality, it is important to take into account not only your wishes, but also limitations.
For example, this year I made a wish to travel more.
More – how many? Well, four new countries a year would be fine by me. This is my wish and expectation. Now we need to see what restrictions we have. I remember that I am not God and I live on the Earth, in a physical body, with a family, an apartment, a dog and bills that need to be paid.
How many new countries I have visited in the past year? None. What is the limit of my desire? First – finance. Four new countries is a decent amount of money. Secondly, my movements depend on my husband’s work schedule and my daughter’s mood and health. Four vacations a year are hardly possible.
Traveling with a small child is also not always easy, so I may just not have enough passion and emotional strength for it. Understanding limitations is not the most pleasant moment, but very useful. For every goal and expectation it is useful to have a list of constraints. Given all this, I’m changing my expectations. Now it is not four countries in a year, but two. This sounds much more adequate and close to life. The expectation slider dropped a few bars down and became much closer to reality.
Working with reality
You can make expectations lower for a long time and in the end there will be nothing left of the primary desire. Then you can get closer the moment of abandoning the goals. That just won’t do! Therefore, it is important not only to lower expectations, but also to work with reality and pull up the slider from this end. When I have an adequate goal and the expectation (two trips a year), I look for ways to realize it.
If at the pole of expectations we balance them with limitations, then at the pole of reality awareness of our possibilities will help. What can I really do? What opportunities do I have to achieve what I want? What steps should be taken to get closer to the goal? What can I do right now, in a month or six months?
Here we work with step-by-step planning. Our actions make the goal more real. For example, I can apply for a current passport. Right now I can start to save $2 a day in the travel Fund. View airline’s websites to find tickets, estimate the approximate budget. Plan a vacation and so on.
When we work with reality, transform it with our actions and activity, the imaginary slider goes up. And now the gap between expectations and reality is not so terrible but very surmountable. Bingo!
This simple scheme does not include many unique features and circumstances of your particular situation. Of course, everything is a little more complicated than just expectations at one pole and reality at the other. However, if you keep in mind this picture and do not forget about reducing the distance between the poles, much can be realized. Then expectations and reality will cease to conflict, balance each other and help to realize the desired. Let it be so.