Define Your Expectations

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

25 February 2021

Expectations are natural. They’re important. And they’re essential for defining any relationship. That’s why most business relationships start with an agreement for services (or similar documentation). It’s why most companies require an employment-separation agreement when your employment is terminated or you resign. Those types of business agreements set the stage for each party to have a clear set of expectations. Having professionally prepared expectation documentation can prevent legal issues or at least make them less laborious to litigate.

Life’s Agreements

However, when it comes to everyday life, it’s nearly impossible to have these types of agreements. It’s also unlikely to have the opportunity to litigate many of them. For instance, if a storm hits and damages your house (and the repair cost is less than your insurance deductible), what do you do? Do you fix your house and understand that these things happen? Do you complain and attempt to litigate against mother nature? Do you pout and stomp your feet because you weren’t expecting this to happen? As novelist Margaret Mitchell was quoted saying, “Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.” There’ll be plenty of things that happen to us in our lifetimes that we didn’t deserve. There will also be plenty of things that happen to us that we may deserve. But does any of that matter? Either way, it doesn’t change what happened.

From time to time, we’ll suffer from disappointment because our expectations aren’t met. It’s part of the human experience. We need to accept that we feel disappointed and learn from the experience for next time. Though we may not be able to sign agreements with everyone and everything that enters our lives, we can learn how to communicate our expectations and when they are or aren’t being met. We can’t expect others to know how we feel. Our internal experiences are nothing but our own. And the people in our lives will do nothing but benefit from learning more about those internal experiences.

Blessed Be

While the poet Alexander Pope may have said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed,” how can one truly expect nothing? And even if you do expect nothing, something is bound to happen. So, you’ll likely be disappointed anyway.

I’d like to be quoted as saying, “Blessed is she who defines and effectively communicates her expectations, for she has learned the ultimate lesson in self-faith.”