We all hear about resolutions, but let’s face it, most people’s resolve doesn’t have too much foundational support. The path to disappointment is virtually guaranteed. Focusing on expectations gives far more weight to a successful outcome. Charles Dickens was onto something when he created a whole world around some Great Expectations.
Expectations usually get a completely bum rap. Among my own inner circles, I’ve discovered that ‘expectations’ often carry connotations of entitlement and greed and, usually, immediate gratification.
In the broader world, expectations are heavily weighted towards our historical, long-term experience. Most of us carry everyone ELSE’s expectations around with us. Family, friends, peer groups, work colleagues, social groups all exert expectations upon us. From some, like family, these are often vocalized, activated expectations. From most others, these are quieter, sub-conscious or subliminal expectations. I call these passive expectations. Both passive and activated expectations revolve mostly around success, abstinence, relationship dictates, career and job promotion, stability, and all the greater ‘shoulds’ of the world that most people buy into blindly year after year.
Breaking that spell is the principle engagement I undertake with all of my clients. We engage with this through a question-based process that allows all of these tacit agreements to scurry out of hiding into the harsh, glaring light of reality. Often, not only is it not pretty, it’s shocking, alarming and often ends in tears and choked sobs. Some common things I hear daily: ‘I had no idea they impacted me so much!’ or ‘It’s like I’ve not been in control of my own life’ or even ‘I can’t believe I accepted this for so long. I’ve wasted so much time!’
The weight and burden of other people’s expectations has a lingering and profoundly fundamental impact on the regular decisions we make day by day, moment by moment and, yes, year by year.
Let’s start here: What expectations have you been operating under that are not your own? What expectations did your family put upon you for your adult life? What passive expectations do your peer groups quietly encourage for you? What about your daily life doesn’t feel fulfilling, and what expectations might be leading you to continue making those daily choices?
Now that we have considered where our current expectations come from, how do we break the cycle and the evil spell of living under someone else’s expectations? Of course, we must dissolve other people’s expectations by supplanting them at the root with our own glorious, instinctive expectations for ourselves.
And therein lies the magic of wielding expectations. You immediately gain massive personal power by examining and creating keen awareness for your own expectations for yourself. Now, if we’re going to supplant decades-old expectations and agreements, that means we have to ask pretty grand questions to get back to the roots of our beliefs and behavior.
Some key questions to ask yourself as you enter a new year are made better by distinctions:
Not ‘What do I want to accomplish this year?’ but instead ‘What have I always wanted to accomplish?’
Not ‘What does this mean for me?’ but instead ‘What meaning have I always searched for or been giving to this?’ and then ‘How can I choose a meaning that serves me better?’
Not ‘How can I be of better service to others this year?’ but instead ‘What is the purpose of my life, and how have I not been carrying that into everything I do? How can I start activating this moment by moment in my daily routine?’
These powerful distinctions require thought, consideration, and time to get back in touch with the inner child who had vivid dreams and huge expectations for what this life has to offer us.
Most of us enter adulthood with the activated and passive expectations of behaving ‘responsibly,’ and fulfilling basic roles. Most of these are to buoy the fabric of society, and there is certainly a respect that must be paid here.
The price of this agreement, however, is like locking away and throwing away the key on our deepest dreams, drives and creative expression. Depression, after all, is nothing more than the absence of expression.
What is the final piece to make sure that your greatest expectations are met? Complete lack of attachment. We can never know HOW anything will materialize in our lives. The universe/God has a plan that will always be a mystery to our basic five senses. The beauty of engaging with your deepest expectations is that you activate your sixth sense and allow yourself to appreciate how your expectations might be met in daily miraculous ways. Isn’t that reason enough to give thanks for the magic of life?
My wish for you as we go through this holiday season into a new year is this: Don’t live the same year over again this year. Make sure that this year is a completely fresh, dynamic, divinely inspired year that you create for yourself with some damn fine expectations of the best life has to offer. Make it your best year yet!