Have you ever taken a drink of a clear liquid, expecting it to taste like water, but instead it was something? If so, it likely caused you to immediately spit out whatever it was that you chose to drink.
I was the victim of a cruel joke my mom played on me as a ten year old that still has me asking the ever-important question whenever I’m taking a drink of a clear liquid: “Is that water?”
Some of you may remember Invisible Kool-Aid. Heck, it may still be a thing, unfortunately, I’ve been out of the Kool-Aid market for awhile now. But, back in the day, that was my go to beverage. Nothing beats playing outside for hours, working up an intense sweat, then coming in the house to an ice cold pitcher of Kool-Aid. Ah, those were the days.
Anyway, one of those summer days, my mom decided to try out the new, groundbreaking Invisible Kool-Aid. The only problem was her not sharing this experiment with anyone. As my friends and I filtered into the house during one of our breaks, mom already had glasses poured and sitting on the table for us.
A quick glance at the clear liquid in the glasses indicated water was the beverage of choice for the day. The sweetness of the surprisingly sugar rich Kool-Aid was met with spats and moans it had never heard. Of course, after the initial shock, we recovered to drink the entire pitcher after cleaning up the mess we had made.
We expected water.
And, even though we loved Kool-Aid, it wasn’t what we expected.
Why Should We Care?
So, what is it that you expect?
The verb ‘expect’ is defined by Mirriam-Webster as “to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of.” The simplicity of the definition seems harmless enough, but if we’re not careful the expectations we set can erase the appreciation, enjoyment, and fulfillment we experience from many of the events in our lives.
One of the primary issues with expectations is that they are concerns or anticipations of the future, not the present. When our focus is on the future we lose control of the present. Our intention within each moment is compromised for indifference or instant gratification. The only way to be our best in the future is to be our best now.
The other issue with expectations that hold us back is that we typically externalize them rather than internalize them. We have expectations for others and for results that we hope to have, but often fail to have true expectations for ourselves in our daily behaviors and actions - the behaviors and actions that have the most significant impact on our lives.
Both of these issues with expectations have the same thing in common:
They are beyond our control.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Expectations are present in all aspects of our life and they are generally viewed as a positive, driving force in our lives. This can certainly be true, however we need to be clear on what we are expecting of ourselves and others in many areas of our lives. Here are three aspects of life to be very deliberate with your expectations.
Releasing ourselves from expectations sounds like a recipe for mediocrity on the surface. In reality, it’s the only way to free ourselves to a life worthy of the only one we’ve been given. The shackles of expectations limit our courage and our courage is the paint brush that colors our lives.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.