I recently listened to the Pinkcast podcast by Daniel Pink, an author and motivational speaker. The topic was a strategy regarding expectations developed by famed management consultant Peter Drucker, who suggested that we write down our expectations whenever we start a big project. Then, at some future date, we should review those notes to see how well our expectations matched reality. My first thought was “great, now I will have data to support how far my expectations are from reality rather than just a gut feeling.”
However, Mr. Pink made some valuable points about how we can use this strategy to help us make better decisions. First, the data can help us see patterns in our decision making. What seems obvious retrospectively will help us as we prospectively make decisions. For example, if I see a pattern that I’m often overly optimistic with my expectations. I can use that information to refine future expectations and hopefully make decisions where the reality matches the expectations a little more closely.
Although I’m one to advocate that we live in the moment and not in the past or future, I think there is an emotional cost when expectations don’t match reality. If we are pessimistic and perhaps worry about what the results may be for a project or a goal and then find that the reality was much better than we expected, we may have expended a lot of unnecessary energy. On the other hand, if our expectations were too optimistic, we may then be distraught that the project didn’t turn out as we had hoped. In both cases, if expectations more closely matched reality, we can spend less emotional energy.
So, writing expectations and spending some time looking back can help us to calibrate our expectations, which can help us make better decisions. Better decisions and more accurate judgments also may help us to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety that can result from mismatched expectations.
Take care and stay safe.
The Patient (Hulu)
The Patient is a psychological thrill from the minds of Joel Field and Joe Weisberg (The Americans) about a therapist, Alan Strauss, played by Steve Carell who’s held prisoner by a patient who reveals himself to be a serial killer. The patient has an unusual therapeutic demand for his therapist: curb his homicidal urges.