So I stated in my previous post on the keys to staying motivated that “changing everything at once is an unrealistic expectation.” The most important thing to understand about this is what a realistic expectation is. The short description is: one that can be accomplished. Describing what goes into evaluating how easily an expectation can be accomplished is a more complex issue.
As I am notorious for functioning similar to a broken record when stating that “we must build awareness,” I will go ahead and present questions which will help us become more aware of what is needed to assess the realistic nature of our expectation.
- Do we know how to accomplish what we are setting out to do?
- Have we seen it accomplished before?
- Do we have practice at accomplishing what we are setting out to do?
- Do we have a program of the necessary steps to accomplish it?
- Do we have the necessary resources to accomplish the task?
- Do we have a scheduled timeline for the task to be carried out?
- What can we do to make the task easier to accomplish?
If you have not yet outlined all of the above information, you have not set a realistic expectation.
In order for the expectation to become realistic, it must be formed fully in our mind as it will be played out so it can then be realized through intelligent action.
OK, so does this mean we need to literally plan out our entire lives before we start to live?!
Not at all, as long as you don’t have an expectation of where you will be or what you will be doing at the end of your life. If you say something like, “I just want to be happy and to feel like I accomplished something,” that is not an expectation but rather a desire, and it will be great motivation for the type of work I present to you in my blog and other resources.
If you say, “I want to die with $1,346,789,253.00,” then you might need some serious long-term, intermediate, and immediate goals (or not, depending on your current position).
Back to the point…
- Having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected.
- Representing familiar things in a way that is accurate or true to life.
Alright, so now we can see what I mean in the dictionary-like definitions above. If we are familiar enough with our task to make an accurate assessment of how it could be practically achieved, we have a realistic expectation. Nice!
It’s not always that easy to be satisfied, though, because quite often we are disappointed with what we are familiar with, like:
“I no longer want my spare tire around my belly, however I am very unfamiliar with how to get a six pack!”
Yep, I hear ya. The point of this blog is not to teach you how to reach for the stars, nor is it to get you to give up before you try. The goal here is to realize that if the stars are the goal, you are probably first going to have to look into astronaut schools.
Building awareness means making the context of our desired outcome familiar.
It is only by understanding the mechanisms by which a six pack can be achieved, and outlining a program of action which utilizes the necessary tools to engage these mechanisms, that we can have any “sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or accomplished” (stole that one from the dictionary).
When you are looking to build awareness and pick up tools to aid in your success, be wary of the sirens calling with their sweet songs and promises of mystical appeal. For example, take the the quest for a six pack: the “get ripped quick” crap is nonsense. I am not saying it won’t work for anyone, but it’s just not sensible and for most people it’s not practical.
Remember the old analogy, “a stopped clock is right twice a day”? If enough people try a specific fitness or dietary regimen, there is bound to be a couple of ex-division 1 athletes, who let a decade in a corporate job put 25+ pounds of fat on their frames, just aching to be uncovered. This makes for a great before-and-after picture and serves as motivation for individuals to spend millions of wasted dollars with a very different likelihood for success.
So while I used a common unrealistic expectation of the male (or female) college student, this method of preparing ourselves for a successful venture by setting realistic expectations is universal. Go back to the list of questions and ask yourself how these questions can lead you to set more realistic expectations. This does not mean that the goal you have needs to be abandoned, it just means that if you want to reach it there are necessary intermediate steps.