I wanna spend a few moments talking about reframing expectations, mainly because it’s something that took me a while to figure out, and it was a pretty big struggle when it came to mindset.
A funny thing happens when we’re put in situations, whether it be business or personal. The automatic, default assumption is that our picture of how things are supposed to go is the absolute right way. It creeps into everything, whether it be,
- How a meeting is supposed to be run: “I can’t believe we just spent 15 minutes talking about irrelevant things! UGH”
- How a friend *should* support you: “They must have better things to do because they weren’t able to make my [insert whatever special thing here)
- How people react to you: “None of them mentioned anything about [Insert something here like new hairstyle, new outfit, new business, your cooking, etc”
- How clients respond to certain things: “They are taking for-ev-er with getting me feedback. Why? They should have done it yesterday.”
[Insert any number of things here]
But guess what: It’s prooobably not the wrong perception, it’s just *our* perception.
One of my main jams is client focused, and the other industry (the film industry) is just as much *people* focused. As such, there’s a number of variables I simply can’t control, because everybody is different and hi: free will. ?? On the personal side, I’m pretty simple. I’m pretty damn happy working in a way that it integrates with my life — I like work and life to intertwine so that I can handle as much as I do, and my favorite thing is hunkering down and exploring the magical “what can be” and creative possibilities that come with partners/friends that are equally as focused.
I was finding myself in a place over the past few years where I felt angsty when things didn’t flow how I thought they should, and let me tell you, I was reaaaaaally great at creating friction. I started looking a little deeper into what the root cause of this was, and it’s really a simple mindset shift. It’s moving away from victim mentality where we feel like unfair things are being thrust upon us, and owning up to the responsibility in controlling our reactions/expectations.
My expectations for others, are not their expectations. I could do one of the following:
- Remove myself from the situation — which I’m *really* good at, probably to a fault. This works best with non-negotiables**
- Go with the flow — which would mean compromising my original values.
- Reframe my expectations — which is ultimately changing how I view the situation and what I expect from it.
**Something you’re 100% not okay with and you feel will compromise your life, focus, happiness, self-worth, etc on a major scale.
Meetings are probably the grandest and simultaneously simplest example of this. I like efficiency. I struggled a ton when I was working in the agency world because I felt like I always expected one thing in meetings, but alas, it always turned out to be something longer, less efficient, and sometimes we didn’t cover what we needed to cover. And so, in this situation I could,
- Politely (aka, keep the crazy pants in the closet) have a discussion and ask if it were necessary that I was in the meeting, as I could probably be more useful and productive elsewhere. Basically, try to remove myself.
- Continue on with biz as usual and silently think to myself “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again” while excessively being living proof of the eye roll emoji. I have now become an Instagram quote.
- Ask that we put the initial important items up first that we absolutely need to cover, and expect that a good portion of the meeting will be dedicated to the actual meeting at hand, and the other part will be building soft skills and relationships with those on the team.
I will win in two of those scenarios and probably be a much happier, saner person. In the other scenario (#2), nothing is happening except me allowing myself to be frustrated by my environment and wanting to #HateAllTheThings. What I think it so so so helpful as a mindset shift, is knowing that you’re ultimately in control of yourself, and your reactions… but you’re definitely not going to be able to control how people interact and react with you. And so, you have (really) only two choices. Remove yourself — from that business, the situation, the friendship, the relationship — which can sometimes be the best for all parties involved, or reframe the expectations if it’s something that won’t throw you completely off kilter.
It can be the same with people and relationships – you’re in 100% control. You can reframe your expectations and let that fit into your life, continue on with business as usual and be frustrated, or remove yourself from the relationship/friendship/acquaintance all together. People matters (especially on a personal level) are much more difficult, but these are the things that can ultimately affect your success, complacency, happiness, pessimism, and any number of things.
With people, we need to remember that we cannot control how someone responds to us, our situation, our thoughts, or our feelings. We can control how deeply we let it affect us. We can control our own expectations of the situation, which will keep us wayyyyyyy more sane in life. If anything could be considered a true life hack, I think this falls in that bucket. Remember – our own thoughts, observations and self awareness quite literally shape our reality.
Have you reframed your expectations around a situation, event, person, etc? Did you end up learning from it?