We humans are piss poor when it comes to expectations. I know I sure am. But, as it relates to me, I’m bad about over-estimating my own abilities and therefore, setting expectations incredibly too high. And, while I believe you should aim high, there is a point of diminishing returns. 

In a recent post, I talk about a nasty habit of mine. In this article, I’m going to pick up where I left off there or at least discuss points along the same lines. I have discussed expectations before. If you prefer an audio style of consuming content, click here for a podcast from last summer. 

When it comes to expectations, I default in to setting them incredibly high. I don’t think I am the only one who does so either. I’m only twenty eight years old but I’ve been around and have been a student of human behavior in many different arenas. 

The last few years I’ve lived in places where people vacation. For some travelers, this is their once a year trip to get away from the ordinary life and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Other travelers have had this on their to do list for their whole lives. 

 

People on vacation are suppose to be at their best, right? 

 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people can go to the same place, at the exact same time, and have completely different experiences. I think this has a lot to do with expectations. 

It’s difficult to not fantasize about how you’ll enjoy the vacation. As a kid, I remember taking road trips from Texas to Florida to spend a week on the beach. On the way, I would think of playing on the beach, running in the water, and enjoying the Florida sunshine. 

I’m not saying that anything is wrong with expectations. I’m saying that we need to manage them. We need to do a better job of understanding reality and not buy into everything we read online or hear about. 

For some reason, we always over-estimate the good while severely under-estimating the less than desirable. Honestly, I’m not sure how to remedy this or believe that it’s a negative thing. I think we can have all the expectations in the world. But, the danger comes in when we let it affect our attitudes and overall enjoyment. 

Nothing saddens me more than seeing people not having a great time while they’re on vacation. They let a few things they expected to be different deflate their whole experience. I believe these people are the ones solely focused on the destination, not the journey. 

 

“The journey is the reward.”

 – Jeremy Jones

 

Yes, it’s cliche. But, there’s no denying it’s true. I’ve traveled over 300,000 miles across North America and some of my fondest memories are from the journey getting “there.” 

Any good adventurer would agree. Of course, you make a plan and try to stick to it but when something unexpected comes up and it alters your plans, it can be a lot of fun. I’m all for routines and habits; they’re incredibly important to achieving long-term goals. But, I think there needs to be a fair amount of flexibility. 

For some, the default seems to be a negative reaction, when things fail to meet their expectations. When those people have their expectations actually met, their joy cannot be contained. These people are the ones who find themselves on a roller coaster of emotion. One day they are over the moon excited and the next day their whole world is crashing down. 

 

There should be flexibility in your expectations too.
Or, at the very least, less rigidness. 

 

Many people have Alaska on their “bucket list.” Each summer hundreds of thousands of people fulfill that lifelong dream. Most of them are blown away and have a great time. Many leave asking themselves, ‘alright, how can I get back as soon as possible?’ 

However, there are a few people that leave disappointed. As sad as that is to say, it’s true. I know because I’ve talked to some of these people. It breaks my heart to hear of their disappointment. But, it is on their own accord. 

Maybe they were really hoping to see a moose but didn’t see any. Disappointment filled their heads and stole away their ability to fully see and appreciate the vast and rugged landscapes of Alaska. 

Seeing wildlife is awesome! I’ve been blessed to see quite a bit in my short time in Alaska. This last road trip up was incredibly spectacular. But, the beauty of Alaska is difficult to describe. The views from the inside passage are awe-inspiring. The powerful glaciers that carve through the mountains are majestic. And, if you have an opportunity to see AK through the air, you’ll see that it just goes on forever. 

 

If you’re soul is set on one thing and it doesn’t come to fruition,
you’re going to miss a lot of beautiful things. 

 

So yeah, set a goal, a BIG goal, an ambitious goal. But, don’t be so closed-minded and narrow focused that you can’t see and/or appreciate anything else. Focus and drive is great. Couple that focus and drive with an open mind and some flexibility and you’ll go further than you had originally planned to begin with. 

There are no wrong turns on life’s road. The people who enjoy the journey of life make all the turns, the right turns, as should you. Fill your head with ideas and thoughts of what you would love to see and do. Direct your actions to map toward fulfilling those ideas. But, leave your heart open to all the possibilities that come up along the way. 

 

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