Here are some random thoughts about managing expectations — a RHP (Really Happening Lesson)* for me these days.
Managing expectations helps reduce anxiety.
I’m starting with this thought, because it’s the one that’s most relevant to me, in the moment.
That is, I would like to manage your expectations, dear reader, about this blog post. That would help reduce my anxiety about writing it.
(I would also like to add, right here, that Managing Expectations does MORE than help reduce anxiety. It helps out in many interpersonal interactions — at work, with family, socially, etc.)
This morning, for me, managing expectations does not involve making excuses or apologies for the limits of the post.
Yay! I’m so glad to be able to write that today, since I know there have been previous posts where I HAVE had the urge to apologize, in advance, for what I was about to write. (And I hear people doing that — apologizing up front for what they are about to say.)
So that’s tres cool, I think, that I’m in a secure enough place, this morning, to NOT feel the need to do that.
However, I would like to manage your expectations about how long I am going to take to write this post, as follows:
I will be taking approximately 20 minutes to write this post. After that, I will be meeting an old friend for brunch and for a walk. I would like to publish before I leave, and then edit afterwards only to correct mistakes and clarify possible miscommunications.
Whoa! Just one second. I just realized something.
I am not just managing YOUR expectations by explaining the limit of how long I have to write this blog post.
I’m managing mine, too!
Managing expectations involves setting limits.
What I did, above in the italics, was set limits, which helps me. That is, by saying that I will take 20 minutes to write this, and then go out, into the Life-o-sphere* — to connect with somebody and then take a walk (two types of Personal Medicine, for me) — I am setting a frame for what kind of post this will be.
Because I have limited time, I am now telling myself that l will NOT do the following:
- anything too fancy or time-consuming (like looking up outside references or taking time to define terms).
- connect to too many links, unless it’s really easy (e.g., past blog posts).
- start a list that I then need to fill out, unless it feels manageable.
- try to be perfect or even close to perfect in what I write.
(Of course, I just told YOU what I would NOT be doing, and that helps, too.)
Here are some things that I CAN do, however:
- write a good enough post
- maybe even introduce a short-cut, time-saving solution to my urge to define terms or give more info (like using asterisks within the text).
And that is THE key to managing expectations, dear reader.
Manage expectations by stating clearly what you can do AND what you cannot do.
Tell yourself what you can and cannot do, and also communicate it to others, as clearly as you can.
Earlier this morning, my friend — whom I’m meeting for brunch — called me to tell me that she was running late. She explained how she had woken later than she expected and had to talk to somebody on the phone, unexpectedly. She called to manage my expectations. She estimated that she would be 15 minutes later than we had originally planned.
But I suspected something, based on my own experience.
I said to her, “Would you like to make it a half-hour later?”
I heard an intake of breath. She said, “Actually, that would be helpful.”
And I thought, of course. Which leads me to my final thought for managing expectations, today:
Try not to over-promise.
I see this a lot (in myself and others). People over-promise for lots of reasons (including guilt, fear, the wish to please, assuming you know what the other person wants, and so on).
So watch out for this, please. And consider readjusting your promises, by checking out assumptions (e.g., my friend may have thought about me, “she wants to meet me as early as possible!”)
It’s time for me to go. Thanks for reading, as always.
* New terms, I just made up, perhaps to be explored in future blog posts.