Prompted: Lowering Expectations
Sustainable focus is more important than occasional perfection.
Hey ya’ll - happy Sunday!
As I’m apt to do, I’m going to keep the preamble to this week’s newsletter short, but I do want to take a moment to share my gratitude for your contribution to Prompted.
Without your time and consideration of these ideas each week, this newsletter would be nothing more than a troubled man shouting into the empty abyss of the internet. Thankfully there are hundreds of you who find what’s below interesting and valuable enough to come back each week, and for that, I can’t thank you enough.
As always, don’t be afraid to drop your thoughts in the comments below or reply to this email directly to share your feedback. Thanks for reading!
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
Sustainable growth begins with reasonable expectations.
When we start a new project or make a schedule for the upcoming week, excitement creeps in and influences the plan we create for ourselves. The cliched example is joining a gym in January and going every day for a week until we spectacularly fall off the wagon and don’t get back to working out for several weeks afterward.
When we’re sitting on the sidelines, it’s easy to create audacious goals and break down an idealistic plan to accomplish them. Unfortunately, our excitement distorts our view of reality, and once real life and unforeseen circumstances inevitably enter the picture, our plan is derailed, and we’re left feeling discouraged because we fell short.
But this discouragement is nothing more than a psychological trick.
If we were buying a new pair of sneakers and we thought they were going to cost $100, it would be disheartening to walk into the store and see that they actually cost $120.
But if we thought they were going to cost $140 and they actually cost $120, we’d be psyched.
We’re still spending the same amount on the same sneakers, but our expectations (when compared to reality) completely change the way we feel about the purchase.
The same rings true in our everyday life. If we plan for a perfect day, then any deviation leaves us feeling disappointed, even when our day might be above average.
Our excitement when planning for the future is entirely too idealistic. When the time comes for execution, we’re left feeling chronically overwhelmed and disappointed, like we’re never getting enough done and always falling short.
The reality is most days are average. That’s okay.
As long as we’re spending time on the right things consistently, we’re moving the needle forward. We’ll have good days and bad days, but sustainable focus is more important than occasional perfection.
Sustainability sounds monotonous and underwhelming, but when we position our expectations to match reality, we create conditions to exceed our expectations every day.
If we make a reasonable plan with relatively low expectations for ourselves, we can underpromise and over-deliver to ourselves. It feels like we’re effortlessly overachieving when all we’re doing is slowly chipping away at what’s important.
Where are you currently setting your expectations when you plan for the future?
What are the worthwhile pursuits that you’re working towards and planning for?
What is the bare minimum you can do in a day to make it a success?
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Check out the third bullet in this edition of Clear’s newsletter for some further thoughts on ambitions and expectations.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.