• Anna Khoh

The Expectation Trap

Let's talk about expectations.


As managers, we’ve been there. A new team member starts, they don’t seem to be enjoying the role. It’s not what they expected, they had another idea about what it would be like to do the job or work for the organisation and they feel disappointed or even angry.


As employees we’ve all been there too. You’ve landed the job of your dreams, but it turns out that when your new manager said you might occasionally need to cover reception, she actually meant, you’re on reception pretty much all of the time so no chance of you doing the marketing projects you actually had hoped to be working on.


Not setting appropriate expectations for ourselves or others will always end in disappointment.


The same is true for life outside of work too. Here is a real life example, Sunday was Mothers day here in Australia (expats chorus ‘Mothers day is March!’, I know, I know) and I almost fell into the expectation trap. In the lead up to the big day I was being spammed with adverts for exotic brunches, luxury gifts, HUGE bunches of flowers and every school drop off and pick up conversation revolved around what the other mums were doing for their special day. It was very tempting for me to put myself into this imaginary scene of the ‘perfect’ mothers day, but I stopped myself for a moment and thought, what am I really expecting will happen for mothers day? I thought about my family and past experiences of Mothers Day and also what I have indeed asked for (or at least hinted heavily at) and it turns out that actually an exotic brunch or huge bunch of flowers was most probably not going to be on the table.


In the end Mothers Day for me included several beautiful handmade gifts and cards from the boys, all very proudly presented to me, a 6.30am wake up instead of the usual 5.30am and a discovery that not one but both boys have head lice so an afternoon combing creatures out of their hair. Lovely! Actually it was lovely and I wouldn’t change it for the world (well maybe the lice part….). And the best bit, because I was realistic about my expectations for the day, I wasn’t floored by disappointment and I made room for gratitude and love instead.


What expectations are you setting for yourself? Are they setting you up for success or disappointment?


Let me know in the comments below!


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