This morning I picked up my vehicle from the mechanic’s and had an interesting moment. It turns out the cost was less than the quote I was given. Yay!! But I had forgotten about tax. With tax it came out to more than I was expecting.
Somehow I was happy that the cost came out less than I was expecting and also at the same time with tax, because I had forgotten about tax, it cost more than I was expecting. I was glad and sad all at the same time.
And it got me thinking about expectations.
A quick Google search of the word expectations yields interesting results. Some people seem to think we need expectations in order to get anywhere in life. Others seem to think that a life lived without expectations yields happiness.
I’ve read plenty of self-help books that suggest letting go of expectations. I do aspire to to spend more time living in the moment. And being in the ‘now’ precludes spending time thinking about the future and what might or might not happen. But even though I have spent a lot of time trying to be more present in the moment I know I still spend a lot of time thinking about the future.
I think about what my life might look like. What I want it to look like. What I might be doing for work or where I might be living. I spend a lot of time ‘rehearsing’ future situations in my mind be they conversations or the order I will do tasks in or something else. (Nothing beats figuring out which part of the bathroom to clean first as you drive home from work!)
Some of those previews can be helpful in preparing for those future events. Especially for someone like me who takes a great deal of pleasure in cleaning in the most efficient way possible.
But expectations can also lead to disappointment.
Everyone’s had that experience where you go to the movies expecting greatness and you are let down. But then you see a film you’ve never heard of and you are blown away. What was the difference? The quality of the screenplay, acting, art direction, set design etc etc? Perhaps. But in some cases probably the real difference was expectations.
Currently I have expectations for what this blog might being about. I am let down when I feel like I don’t have as many readers as I was expecting to have after two weeks of blogging. (When really I should be happy to have any readers at all!!)
I also have expectations about my job, where we might end up living and more. When those expectations aren’t met I tend to feel frustrated and sometimes even angry.
When it comes to this blog and it’s purpose to help me find my purpose I also have expectations. About how I might find some answers, where they might come from, and how long it might take. If I don’t find my purpose the way I am expecting or as quickly as I am expecting will I end up angry and frustrated? Will it suck the enjoyment out or the process or maybe even derail the search completely?
As I was driving away from the mechanic’s shop this morning and again now that I am writing this post I resolve to try and limit my expectations as much as possible. When I feel myself expecting something I plan to gently remind myself that expectations aren’t always met and that the actual future will likely be better than expected in some ways and maybe a little worse in others. Then I will remind myself to focus on the process and evaluate the results when they come.
That plan will apply to this blog, and my current search, as well as planning for the future and even when I head out to play basketball on Friday nights. Rather than expecting myself to rack up points like a young Michael Jordan I will simply enjoy the process of getting up and down the court. (A bit slower up and down the court than I used to! I guess if there’s one expectation I should be giving up it’s that I will ever be as fast as I was when I was 17. Because that would definitely be setting myself up for disappointment.)
As I search for purpose and meaning I will try not to expect anything from the journey while I try and simply experience each moment on it’s own merits.