Great Expectations

“The only way to avoid disappointment is to lose all expectations.”

I’m sorry—what? My last post was on handling disappointment and I was shocked at the amount of quotes on the subject which suggest that to avoid disappointment entirely, we need to quit expecting anything at all. I totally disagree.

Our expectations—of ourselves, of others, and of our lives—are powerful tools that simply need proper management. They are established and based on the perception of ability, the resources provided, and past outcomes of similar situations. This would suggest that we would rationally form our expectations within the realm of feasible possibility. As long as our expectations are reasonably designed and arguably attainable, then they provide positive reinforcement for a person striving to meet those expectations. If the expectation is outrageous or demands too much of an individual or situation (i.e. if it does not appear feasible to achieve this outcome) then the expectation itself will provide negative reinforcement and deter someone from believing they can reach the desired outcome.

Expectations of others teach them that they may be capable of so much more than they imagined of themselves. We see ourselves through the world around us, so when someone expects something of us, we are led to believe that it means we are more capable than we thought. They believe I can do it, and have rationalized this expectation of me, so I bet I can do it! It encourages us to push harder and test our own limits. This is confidence building.

Expectations of ourselves help us to avoid settling for less than we feel we deserve or that we want to achieve. We may be reaching for the stars, but that isn’t a bad thing. It means we are constantly striving to get to a level that we feel reflects our abilities and contributed efforts.

Conclusion–Expectations, when reasonably designed, provide positive reinforcement for the desire to achieve and improve. What we see in others helps them to see it within themselves and what we see in ourselves helps us to keep striving to improve ourselves and never settle for less than we deserve. With no expectations, it would be very hard to desire to progress or try hard.

Expect great things—and do not fear the possibility of disappointment. It happens, but it teaches you to find a new path to those great things we all desire.

Please share your thoughts! I’m eager to hear what people think in regards to disappointment and the expectations that go with it.

Dealing in Disappointment

No doubt about it, disappointment is a bit**—and can really throw us off our game. Feelings of severe disappointment—either in a situation, in a person, or in ourselves—can, if not handled, drag us down and handicap our “go getter” attitudes. We are dream chasers, optimists, and star-reachers, but ruin our expectations and don’t give us what we want and we get very unhappy and disappointed. This is when the teen cries that her life is ruined and the adult is baffled as to why he is so darn unhappy with his job. It gets worse when we are told that it is fully within our ability to achieve what we want—so then why haven’t we? When our expectations are dashed to pieces we need to know how to handle it, learn from it, come back from it, and move on.

1. Identify the source of your disappointment:

  • What was not met or fulfilled that has left you feeling like nothing works out, that all your dreams are doomed to fail, or that nothing ever works in your favor, that it was a waste of time, or that people always let you down?
  • “This job sucks.” “This isn’t what I signed up for.” “I can’t believe he did that to me.” “I thought I had that in the bag for sure.”—Translation, not what I wanted, not what I expected, and definitely not what I was working towards.

2. Evaluate the reasonableness of your goal or expectation:

  • Make sure your expectations are not set too high—the key to achieving any goal is to have a reasonably attainable goal. Make sure you aren’t demanding too much too soon or expecting the world with minimal effort. Be realistic.

3. Analyze other possible factors that may result in a failure to meet expectations:

  • If your goal or expectation was reasonable, then what caused things to not work out? Other factors like laziness, a lack of information, poor planning, or a lack of resources can all add to the likelihood of not achieving what you wanted.

4. Revaluate your goals or expectations and adjust as necessary:

  • Sometimes we realize that we actually had no clue what we wanted in the first place. Disappointment can arise when we discover that this is definitely not what we want. But rest easy; that’s not a waste of time, it’s a lesson learned.

5. A new plan of action:

  • So, what are you going to do about it? Pout? Cry that nothing ever goes your way? Well, maybe a little. That’s natural. But then you are going to suck it up, redesign your plan, tweak it and try again, or start from scratch and go after something new.

Disappointment is a guiding beacon to teach us what we don’t want and to help us figure out what works when it comes to getting what we do want. Do not let it crush you or lead to depression. Revaluate and redesign your plan of action. Change your game plan and get back in it! You will never win if you don’t even play!

Watch This–Can’t ≠ Excuse

Impressive. Dr. Bret has yet another set of talented students making Personal Brand Videos in his social media class, and he has singled out one extra impressive one. As a former student, I enjoy seeing his students continue to excel, and the video below really got me.

Mike Alt, an incredibly bold individual, has created a wonderfully motivational video about not letting “can’t” keep you from doing anything.

Let this video help to remind you to be grateful for what you have. Too many of us who have never dealt with adversity hold ourselves back from greatness because the menial things can seem too difficult. The next time to find yourself saying “I can’t” or listening to someone say “you can’t,” stop! Make “can’t” your buzz-word for a knee jerk reaction of “Oh yes I can! Just watch this!” Our daily difficulties don’t compare to the great challenges faced by others–so kick “can’t” out the window and move on to success.

Check out Mike Alt’s webpage and help spread his message!

6 Reasons to Do it By Yourself

 1. Don’t miss out on awesome activities.

All too often we wait for our friends to do something with us, but for one reason or another they are never available when we are, can’t afford it right now, or deep down really aren’t interested in it. So we sit and we wait and ultimately miss out on doing something we really wanted, because we wouldn’t do it alone.

2. Meet new people.

When you pull yourself away from your comfort zone and put yourself in a new situation, you are forced to meet new people. This is beneficial for multiple reasons; you can see the world from new points of view, discover new opportunities, and expand your connections. All good things.

3. Understand yourself better.

Alone we are forced to view, interpret, and understand the world from our own unhindered perspectives. We are free to come to our own conclusions without the input of our friends, whose opinions may influence or override our own. By ourselves, we have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of ourselves and how we connect with the world.

4. Push your limits.

You discover just how far you can go—with no help from anyone else. This is about you, what you want to try, what you can survive, and how far you can go—alone. Never imagined you could travel alone? Surprise! You will be amazed to discover just how much you are capable of.

5. Become a more interesting (i.e. BOLDER) person.

When we are bold enough to take charge and do something new or different or scary all by ourselves, we exude confidence—and people are attracted to that. You have exciting and bold stories to tell. You really did that all by yourself? I wish I was brave enough to do that…

6. Build your confidence.

Taking the initiative to try something new without the support of a friend to do it with you speaks volumes about an individual’s character and attitude about life. It can be scary to see/try/learn something completely different when we don’t have a supportive pal with us.  Although it’s fun to have a friend along, a friend can also be an inhibitor.

As a result of all the above items, our confidence is bolstered as we realize we can accomplish anything, with or without our friends. We gain faith in our own abilities and find we can take on more than we ever imagined.

Make a point of doing something new by yourself every so often—and see how it can change your life.

I wanted to come up with 7 to 10 reasons, but feel like I summed it all up here….Please fill out the list if you think I missed some excellent reasons to just do it by yourself and share them below!

In addition, I really want to hear some inspirational things you have done by yourself that helped you grow. For example, I traveled through Europe for three weeks all by myself—Scary? Check. Exciting? Check. Confidence-boosting? Double check! Life changing? You get the idea.

Are you afraid of yourself? (6 Signs you might be)

Autophobia is a real phobia in which someone fears being alone, ignored, or unloved. Maybe you aren’t full on phobia status, but “These days, we’re probably all a little autophobic …” Do you display signs of fearing yourself and being alone, be it romantically or socially? Six signs you might be terrified of being alone…with no one but yourself for company.

  1. Boy-Toy—You stay in a relationship with someone who is—well, not Mr. Forever, but Mr. Good-enough-for the moment, because, well, it’s better than being alone. Or you are bored. Or all your friends have guys and therefore you end up left out unless you have a guy too. Guys, this may work vice versa.
  2. The Night in Terrors—You can’t stand a Friday night in or a weekend without plans. You feel like you have no life, you need friends to get you out on the town. Maybe you feel like you’ll never find that special someone who is just waiting for you to appear in some swanky (or dive) bar.
  3. Buddy System—A friend for everything, can you even pee without a friend to accompany you? Activities become “we should do this,” or “I’d love to do this, but I have no one to go with me.”  You can’t do anything new or exciting alone. Friends are great—the problem is, if your friend is unavailable or not that interested, you miss out on the experience.
  4. Home Alone—You live with roommates because you don’t like living alone; in addition, they get you out doing things you otherwise might not. If you do live alone, you find yourself out and about more often, finding reasons to leave the house.
  5. Shot Gun!—You’d rather sit in the passenger seat all the time and let others make all the plans and decisions, rather than take the wheel yourself. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you, and you’ll partake to feel included and to “have a life”. You don’t have to come up with a good idea (which might actually suck) or invite others (and risk rejection); instead you get to tag along and leave the tough stuff to everyone else.
  6. Lunch date with your cell phoneYou can’t have lunch by yourself without checking your cell phone a million times, trolling Facebook, or filling the time with a quick bite and some errands. Anything to avoid sitting by yourself looking awkward with nothing to do for an hour. Because really, what loser eats alone?

None of these items in and of themselves are bad things—just be clear with yourself about the reason why you do what you do. If it’s a crappy relationship—get out of it! If you don’t really want to get a nasty hang over from a rowdy night out with the girls, then chillax at home. Basically, don’t let a fear of being alone make you feel like you have to do less-than-fun things.

If you said yes to any of these signs, then maybe you need a heart to heart with your biggest admirer—yourself. Have a date with yourself and get reacquainted. Get comfortable with yourself (and build some confidence in who you are) and your fears of being alone, either romantically or socially, will start to fade away. You cannot rely on others to always be available to make your life busy, interesting, or fulfilling. It’s up to you to trust in yourself, your choices, and in the fact that people like you and will love you. It’s your life so make sure you can enjoy it with or without other people.

 “These days, we’re probably all a little autophobic…We’ve become dependent on others to define ourselves…We’ve become good at dealing with others but often at the expense of learning to deal with ourselves. And in today’s technology driven landscape (e-mail, text messaging, and cell phones) we can easily avoid that internal dialogue and introspection that forces self reflection and –realization.” Ian Kerner, author of “Be Honest, You’re Not That into Him Either”

 

Time for a Bucket List

I have always thought about a bucket list, but never got around to actually writing one out. I have always been a promoter of positive intention and adamantly support writing out goals or making vision boards to make them more concrete and therefore easier to accomplish…so why postpone something as important and fun as a bucket list?

Just recently I learned of someone else’s bucket list and the importance of it to them. Via a friend, I was introduced to Ben, a very nice man who I just met briefly, who I knew little about. My friend later told me that Ben’s wife has been battling cancer for about a decade. She is currently cancer free, but the liklihood of it returning is very high. As a result they are not wasting any time in accomplishing the biggest, most important to her, item on her bucket list—to see Mount Rushmore. Their trip to Rushmore has been delayed and postponed several times over the years due to the cancer, but now they are finally making it happen.

I heard this story and it struck me as an amazing example of the power of dreams and goals. We have a set amount of time allotted to us in this lifetime. We have a set amount of days in which to live, experience, hope, love, etc. And not every day is a perfect day. Work, errands, responsibilities, finances, and sadly, illness, can get in the way of us living our days doing just what we want. We need goals to ensure that we pursue something and don’t waste our good days.

Ben is taking his wife to Mount Rushmore, to fulfill one of her bucket list desires, before her cancer returns. Meeting Ben briefly and then learning something that not everyone gets to hear about reminded me to make my own bucket list and work on it now. In addition, it showed me that everyone has a story to tell, has hopes and dreams. I feel grateful to Ben and his wife, though they don’t realize it, for what is to me an inspiring story. I may never see Ben again, but he and his wife helped me finally sit down and chart out my own bucket list, which can be viewed via the link above.

I encourage you, if you have not already done it, to write out your list and even include things that you have already accomplished. Then you see what you’ve done and where you want to go. So get started! You never know what curve ball life may throw your way; you just need to keep a smile and a dream to get through it and keep moving forward.

Thanks to Ben and his wife, I wish them all the happiness in the world. Yours is a touching story. Thanks for getting my butt in gear!

Taste Experience, or Carpe Diem

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

There’s a first time for everything—if you allow yourself to have a first time. The first time you ride a bike with no training wheels, the first day of school, the first hardship you overcome, your first kiss, your first job, the first time you outdid yourself at work…We can’t escape firsts, but firsts lead to memorable experiences, you know, the stuff that life is made of.

So…

DON’T BE SCARED! Experiences can fall into good and bad, but it’s the learning that counts. It’s the trial, the lesson learned, or the memory made. DO NOT be afraid to simply experience life as it comes. Go out of your way to purposely find and share in something new; like Eleanor says, reach for it eagerly. Sometimes a new experience can take guts, but the more often you push it, the easier it may become.

DON’T BE SHY! A woman once told me a wise comment that has stuck with me for years: “Life is too short to spend it being shy.” How absolutely true is this? The world is full of opportunity but our shyness can get the best of us and keep us home more, or in the safe zone. (Believe me, I’ve been there, done that, and it gets old.) To be held back due to shyness would be an awful thing. We have to remember that everyone has first timer experiences and that we all begin somewhere and have to learn.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING JUDGED! Odds are people will reserve judgment on the newbie because they are the newbie. We have all been there. And if they’re the type of person who judges another, then they aren’t to be bothered with anyway.

DO BE ENTHUSIASTIC! Whatever it is, go into it with an open mind, eager and hungry for knowledge. If at the end it just isn’t your thing, you can say “I gave it a shot,” and move on to your next adventure. Your enthusiasm will rub off on others too and I believe any experience becomes more enjoyable for it.

DO ASK QUESTIONS! Ask questions, lots of them! If this is new for you, if you are curious (which I hope you are, but even if you aren’t), and if you want to do well, then ask as much as possible. People usually LOVE to recount their own experiences, which can be a big help for you to try to get it right the first time, whether it’s a task on the job or a new hobby like snowboarding.

DO REAP THE REWARDS! Build up your experiences and enjoy them. Remember them fondly and use them as momentum for “newer and richer experience(s),” as Eleanor Roosevelt nicely phrases it. This is your life and it is yours to shape. You will grow and your knowledge will expand—and you will be better for it!

Have any additional advice for getting people out and living life? Share it below, becasue I know I haven’t said it all.

*Image Credit: New Media and Marketing.com

Believing is Being

I believe in Audrey’s words—and more.

I believe in happily ever after.

I believe in magic.

I believe in love.

I believe in hard work and rewards.

I believe in shooting for the stars, even if your feet are still on the ground.

I believe in standing tall.

I believe in being your best and believing in yourself, even when it seems like the world is against you.

I believe in dreams and the power they hold.

I believe in Tulips and Sunflowers. And gardens.

I believe in friends and family.

I believe in laughing out loud and that smiling can brighten a day.

I believe in COLOR, and coloring your world bright!

I believe in being passionate in all that you do!

I believe in the good times.

I believe in CHOCOLATE, and lots of it!

I believe in greatness.

I believe that being goofy every now and then reminds you to be you.

I believe that purpose and motion get things done.

I believe in the journey and the power of learning as we go.

I believe in life and the goodness it can hold.

Maybe it’s not “I have a dream,” but belief gives strength, power, and hope where it may not otherwise be. This is a happy life list. It is a list of things in life that
make me happy, that I choose to believe in, like Audrey.

What do you believe in? Share your belief list! I choose to believe in these because they remind me that life is beautiful. In the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the highs and lows—Life is worth believing in!

Sticking to the Plan–i.e. Choices, Opportunities, & Risks

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”–J.F.K.

I believe it to be a given that having a course of action already worked out is the best way to help you achieve your goals, but what happens when opportunity gets in the way? That sounds weird so let me clarify. I have discovered that not all opportunities are automatically the best choices for us to make. Unfortunately a lot of sayings exist that would support that all opportunities are something not be passed up because they are such a rare and amazing thing. Like the old adage, “When opportunity knocks,” yes, someone has to (and will) answer, but does it have to be you? We feel bad passing over an otherwise great looking opportunity because we are trained to believe an opportunity is a god send—and some of them are, of course. The trick is to conscienscously decide whether it’s your god-send or not.  Some opportunities are absolutely those which you’d be an idiot to pass up, or those which fate has conveniently set in your path to help you snag something even better. The ones I am discussing in this post are those that only appear better because they exist in the face of a risk.

What do I mean? We chart our courses and preplan where we want to end up—even to the point of accepting an inevitable risk in the goal of achieving it. For example I recently accepted temporary unemployment as a given during my transition from Reno to Denver. We do this, then suddenly a safe, smart-looking opportunity opens up that suddenly makes your acceptance of risk seem unnecessary. Humans tend to avoid danger, being self-savers, so a safe, smart opportunity draws us in. Think of a bright light that blurs your vision. That is the concern; sometimes opportunities actually become distractions, temporary solutions, or immediate gratifications, like bright lights distorting your vision of the real goal. So the question becomes, how do we stick to the plan and face the risks that we could otherwise mitigate by taking up one of these “opportunities” ?

Well, this is when that plan of action, that vision board, comes in handy to help keep you on track and confident about why you do what you do. It is something that continually reminds you of your ultimate goals.  We need reminders of what we are really after so that we can determine whether a particular choice will get us there or not. Maybe it will, but it will take longer. Maybe it is the right choice for right now, or maybe not. Maybe you have an easy in; sure, but does the job really make you happy? Does it fulfill your needs beyond basics of pay or stability? Is that what you need right now? Is it only fear of the risky unkown that makes this choice appear so great?

Every choice comes with a risk, and we make choices all day long. If you choose this burger for lunch, you risk not tasting that new salad that just came out. When it comes to life choices, the risks are that much greater—or maybe not. By taking the easy or safe option, what are you now risking? Happiness, the chance to push yourself, the possibility of dream fulfillment or greater satisfaction? The last thing you want is to wind up regretting a choice that worked for a short time, but held you back from what you really wanted. Like playing chess, you have to make moves that set you up for further success, rather than focusing on the immediate satisfaction of removing a pawn from the board. You cannot let fear of the risk hold you back.

Why am I writing this post? To act as a reminder to conscientiously analyze and weigh your choices and opportunities before unwittingly allowing yourself to deviate from your plan. It’s risky business, one way or another. I want you to stick to the plan or deviate with full knowledge of it. Don’t have a plan? You better MAKE ONE and STICK TO IT! This is your life and sometimes you can relax and let the tide guide you, but other times you have to take control and steer yourself. Don’t let those bright lights distract you unless they really are your special, once in a lifetime opportunity.

Choices, risks and opportunities are a part of life, so we need to determine how and when to handle them. The fact that risk exists makes it interesting. The fact that opportunity exists makes it worth pursuing. The fact that choice exists makes it our responsibility.

Your goal: Analyze your opportunities. Don’t be afraid to make a choice and take a risk to get what you really want. If you really want it, then the risk is worth it, right?

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Related Reading

Livestrong.com Becoming a Risk Taker.

Leadership Now Risk Quotes

Taking a risk gives you the competitive edge.

Life Optimizer: Create your life plan.

Christine Kane: How to Make a Vision Board

You know what…just Google “risk taking” “life plan” and “vision board” and you’ll find all kinds of great articles!

Being Labeled

What does it mean to be labeled? Why do we need labels?

I just read a study for class that discussed the subject of “whiteness” and the lack of a definite label for whites, considering it an “invisible class” due to the ambiguous state of being label-less. The study took a group of college aged white students and had them rate their preferred labels, which included “White,” “Caucasian,” “White American,” “European American,” “Euro-American,” and “WASP” (White Anglo Saxon Protestant). The preferred ranking follows the order in which I listed those terms. It was noted that among the survey takers was an aversion to being labeled at all.

In reading the article, I thought I understood that aversion. We are just people, why do you have to put a label on me? Then I got it. They were stressing the importance of the connection between language and identity, and the power associated with labels. It made me think of the Dr. Pepper commercial called “Always One of a Kind,” in which everyone proudly labels themselves. Interestingly enough, this study remarked how the preferred labels for minority groups tend to be those that originiate from within the ethnic group, not from without. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Label yourself, don’t wait to be labeled.

“I’m a(n) <insert label here>.”

It would seem that the need to label everything, to put things into their place, has left us in generic categories: White, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, etc. Sure, those may be parts of our identities, parts that we are proud of, but they are not the sum of what makes us who we are. By labeling ourselves, such as in the Dr. Pepper commercial, perhaps we take charge of our own identities. The power shifts to us when we can own our labels.

If we have to be labeled, I know mine: I’m a BOLD SPIRIT.

So my question is this: What is your label? Do you even want a label?

*Check out “Exploring Whiteness: A Study of Self Labels for White AMericans,” by Martin, J., Krizek, R., Nakayama, T., and Bradford, L.