Just as the afterglow of Thankfulness settles down from Thanksgiving, you’ll hear me start humming my holiday refrain, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” For me, this is when expectations bubble up from the recesses of my past and mingle with my desires of today. I often find they are unacknowledged in myself and unspoken to others. To make things even more interesting, at this same time of year in our business worlds, we are also working on setting expectations for the next year.
Expectations are everywhere, there’s really no getting around it. Yet when something bubbles up, I have found deep value in unraveling what my unconscious is trying to tell me. Often, this internal process of discovery is really murky, so don’t despair if you find this, too. Things are often very cloudy just before they become clear. One expectation I’ve always had of myself is to keep working through things, which has served me well, so expectations aren’t always bad.
But while some expectations are really valuable, certain feelings clue me in to the fact that I may be in the grips of an expectation that needs to be explored. For me, some of the clues are feeling resentment, feeling less than, feeling judged.
What I’ve learned, is, first, expectations usually point to something I desire but maybe haven’t acknowledged even to myself–so that’s good to know. Often, noticing that I’m expecting something of someone else comes to me as a hint of resentment when they’re not doing what I want. Next, I realize that I’ve probably not shared what I’m looking for in the relationship or situation. Then, I get honest with myself and decide if I want to ask for what I want from someone else–or give it to myself, which is usually the right answer, at least for me.
My suggestion is to make a list of expectations you currently hold of yourself and others. Look inside and reflect on them to see if you want to hold onto these expectations, rewrite them, or let them go. I believe once we learn from our expectations, we can put them down and move on–at least until next Christmas.
There’s no right or wrong here–just a call for self-awareness as we move through this meaningful time of year.
By Mary Anne Wampler,
PRINCIPAL, TRANSFORM, INC.