McDermott: Great expectations

Scott McDermott’s weekly column about health and wellness

We are all weighed down by expectations – mostly self-created, some by society, some by friends and family. There are so many ways this can manifest in the world of health and fitness both in our favour, and against us.

It’s not only the expectations we are aware of, it is the hidden ones that really get us.

Let’s say you set a goal of dropping 20 pounds or improving your body fat by 5 per cent in 6 weeks. That’s a pretty clear expectation, and well managed and measured. Now…. what about the hidden expectations that you have, that maybe you are not even aware of? You could even reach the above goal of 20 pounds dropped and be horribly disappointed, because you failed to match up to the hidden expectations. That is not to even talk about the stress of missing the goal altogether, which would be another totally different set of missed expectations.

You will know if this is happening to you when you say to yourself: “This isn’t how I imagined it to be!” Let’s say you succeeded to drop 20 pounds, and all your friends are thrilled for you, impressed and amazed and you get accolades from stranger, but, When you look in the mirror, you still see areas you expected to look: (fill in the blank) smaller, bigger, more defined, less round; or you expected to have: (fill in the blank) more energy, better sleep, washboard abs, a smaller butt, etc)] as a result. Everyone is different, and your expectations are yours and yours alone. Maybe you missed the mark entirely and have all sorts of emotions around that.

You can do this next assignment with any aspect of your life that you set goals for, where that effort turned out…however it turned out.

Take a pen and paper and write out all the things that you thought this goal or process would create for you. Remember what you felt when you started the journey – what were the things you thought would happen as a result? Where was your life supposed to head? Describe it in as much detail as you can. Work to think of all the things you thought would happen or how your life would change as a result.

Then, on another piece of paper, write out how it actually looks. Make it a long description, not just “it sucks” or whatever you feel about it. Write out as many details about how it actually is, why it’s this way, and what you now have to deal with. Try to stick to facts about how things actually are.

Then compare the two pieces of paper. The gap between what you thought would happen, and what actually happened is where your hidden expectations are. If you look carefully enough, you can see that the real problem is not the results, it is your hidden expectations and how you feel about them that is the problem. You could be totally blind to some amazing successes, growth and learning, because some hidden expectation was missed. Chances are the big problem is not the result you got, but rather, it is the blow your ego took when things did not turn out as you thought they should.

“Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life.” Epictetus

Instead of getting all mad that things didn’t go as planned or to your expectations, work to accept them as they actually are. Now you are in a very powerful position to deal with them and learn from the experience. If you set a big goal and missed, that may actually be appropriate, and possibly for reasons you can’t even figure out yet.

Perhaps you have more to learn yet, perhaps things got in your way that you didn’t predict, and you just need more time. If you achieved your goal easily, then perhaps you needed a bigger goal, or perhaps this is simply a springboard to the next goal.

The point is to be aware of our expectations, both visible, and hidden, and then set forth to do our best. Once you have completed the task, work to accept things as they actually are, and if required, set new goals.

“Set a new plan. If it succeeds, celebrate! If it fails, recalibrate!” Gary John Bishop.

Happy Training!

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