Rule #20: Set Goals, Not Expectations

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Where do our expectations come from?

It's not as if we wake up in the morning and ask ourselves, "Hmmm, what expectations should I have today?" Imagine sitting at the kitchen table, pen and pad in hand, and jotting down a list of expectations for the year ahead. Sounds crazy, no?

Goals, of course, are different -- we consciously set them. We set them privately, with our thoughts, and publicly, with our tongues. Every time we create a personal goal -- to build a colorful garden, lower our handicap, redecorate, lose weight or sign up for tennis lessons -- we do so consciously, with forethought and intention.

Not so with expectations. Expectations simply appear, no forethought, no planning. Think about it: when was the last time that you attended a seminar on "Setting Expectations?" I'm sure that it's been a while, making it ever more questionable why we allow expectations to steer our ship. Why is that?

This chapter explores the difference between goals and expectations and seeks to answer these provocative questions:

  • "Is it possible to have goals without expectations?" and
  • "Where do our expectations come from?"

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