Attached to Expectations

Attached to Expectations – A Recipe for Stress

Written By Sarah Hodges

Attached to Expectations

Did you ever watch “The Office?”  Remember the time when Michael Scott, the eccentric manager played by Steve Carell, was so insistent on following his GPS that he drove his car right into a lake?  I still laugh to myself as I think of that scene. 

Michael Scott had an expectation that his GPS was going to take him right to his destination, and he was so attached to that expectation that deviating from the map was incomprehensible.

How often are we guilty of this in life?

We choose a destination or goal, set the coordinates in our metaphorical GPS, and form strong expectations about how and when we will get there. Our commitment to reach the goal may appear to be an asset, but it more often acts as a barrier to success.

Try as you may, there is no way to plan for every obstacle that will pop up between you and your goal.  Even today’s most advanced GPS can’t predict every traffic jam or detour. There are uncontrollable factors everywhere: other drivers, deer, and pop-up road construction, to name a few.

Projects in work and life adhere to the same rule.  The unexpected is guaranteed to happen. Yet, we continue to find ourselves attached to the outcome of how things “should” be.  If this unwavering commitment doesn’t cause us to drive into a lake, it can certainly cause us a lot of stress.

Remember the last time you were stuck in a traffic jam?  Stress is inevitable.

A New Way to Set Goals

So how do you set a goal without being attached to expectations?

#1. EMBRACE TRIAL AND ERROR

Every attempted goal is an opportunity for growth.  Even if you don’t reach your destination the first time, the journey is an incredible chance to learn more about yourself and your environment.

So, instead of approaching your goal with an unwavering attachment to your expected outcome, try approaching it with curiosity.  This will help you become more agile, encourage you to take calculated risks, and try different approaches.

#2. BE OPEN TO SURPRISES.

You can’t predict the future.  Sure, sometimes bad things happen, but good things happen too!  If you’re too attached to a particular expectation, you might miss the good things all together.  You will be blinded to alternative opportunities that could take you on a journey far better than what you expected.  

If you’re stuck in proverbial traffic, be open to getting off at the next exit to see where it takes you.  You might come across a beautiful, scenic route that you never could have experienced if you had stuck to your expectations.

So the next time you feel yourself unwavering in attachment to your outcome, consider embracing trial and error instead.  Be open to surprises.

Otherwise, you might end up in a lake.

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