Thursday, February 4, 2010

managing expectations

as promised... a blog dedicated to expectations. expectations are a funny thing. i've found that sometimes either way they can cause anxiety. since my recent jaunt to new orleans wasn't anything like i thought it would be, i'd like to share how my expectations shaped my experiences there.

around this time last week, the hubby and i were boarding our flight. we were happy and excited... although it took us awhile to get there! that morning, as i was packing my last minute things, hubby noticed it was snowing. i immediately launched into panic mode. my panic mode is filled with "what ifs."

what if the road is icy and we get into an accident on the way to the airport?
what if there are accidents already on the road and we are stuck in horrific traffic and miss our flight?
what if our flight is delayed or cancelled?
what if we board but they keep us on the tarmac for 10 hours before take off?

and the list went on and on. already my expectations were low and bordering on doom and gloom scenarios. so i did what i do with my clients when they have severe concerns causing anxiety... i talked it out logically. we'll check the flight status before we leave. we'll check traffic reports and bring the GPS in case we need to switch directions. we'll leave 30 minutes earlier for the airport. and guess what? snow stopped after an hour and we cruised to the airport. we weren't met with a single bump or delay in plans. after that, i laughed it off and told hubby i'm going to keep my expectations in check for the rest of the trip. and its a good thing i did. in a nutshell: the weather was freezing (much colder than it was supposed to be), hubby had the flu the whole time, our ghost tour was rained out, the cemetery we took a trolley to see was closed and we couldn't get in and due to said flu lots of other plans had to be cancelled. if i hadn't managed my expectations about these situations it would've left me cranky, agitated and anxious. you always plan for your vacations to be amazing, so it can be disappointing when they become less than stellar. but it really wasn't the end of the world. we had fun watching movies in the room and laughed at the timing of everything. so in regards to this trip i had low expectations in the beginning which caused stress and made me really aware of how i was viewing things. therefore i didn't let my expectations get so high that the trip was ruined when things didn't work out exactly as i wanted.

we don't always realize how much of an impact our expectations have. i remember back over the summer training and training with puggle for our 5k. i really thought we'd nail it and run with ease. turns out the day of the race i was struck with a side cramp 7 minutes into the run and it totally took a toll on my time. i had high expectations and because of that, i wasn't able to appreciate the fact that i ran my first 5k with my pup. i spend a lot of time hung up on the fact that i didn't do as well as expected. of course, it didn't last too long and by the time i got home i realized what an accomplishment it was for me either way. but it still gets the best of us every now and then.

do you find yourself having very high (or low) expectations about things and it causes you stress? ever plan a romantic meal for your significant other only to find out you burned the chicken and it completely ruins the whole night for you? or maybe you had expectations on a gift you'd receive or a trip you'd take or a promotion you were sure you'd get.... only to find yourself let down and anxious and upset?

we can totally manage our expectations. it's great to have high ones for ourselves and things around us, but its important to acknowledge that they are just that... expectations. they aren't guarantees. so if you find yourself over analyzing and expecting certain things make sure to include this sentence at the end of those thoughts: it would be great if it worked out that way, but it's ok if it doesn't also. and have back up plans on the back burner. or be ok with laughing at things and how they work out. don't take it so seriously.

whatever you find works for you, just make sure to keep awareness at those expectations and how they creep in when we least EXPECT them to.

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