Brief Thoughts on Expectations and Patience
A short essay on managing expectations and shedding the burden they endow us with, by being mindfully patient.
In these early days of 2019, I am reminding myself to be patient. I am reminding myself not to feel burdened by unrealistic expectations. Whether these are my own or endowed by others. Whether they are to be fulfilled by myself or someone else. I am reminding myself that not everything comes to us at the pace we desire or in the form we expect. Many-a-times, it will come at another time, in another form, if at all. And that is okay.
I feel that in in the modern lives we live, our understanding of “expectations” has muddled. At times we tend to confuse ourselves between certainty and expectations. When things do not go as expected, we exhibit some of the same emotions or reactions that we would when faced by an undesirable certainty. The start of the year is a particularly tricky time when it comes to this. Most of us tend to set goals that give rise to expectations. As we strive towards materializing these goals, it is inevitable that some of these goals may not pan out as “expected.” we tend to equate “things not going as expected” with “failure or our sense of self-worth.”
For instance, one of the goals that I had expected myself to achieve by now was to start a podcast. For multiple reasons, this has not panned out exactly how I wanted and there is a delay. Having had the opportunity to pause and reflect on how this impacted me and my reactions to it, I realized that I was feeling extremely disheartened by this, almost as if I had permanently failed. I then realized that this was happening more often than I realized, in situations small and large.
Gradually, I have learnt to check myself and be more mindful of this reality. Whenever I feel burdened, I try to pause and reflect on the situation and I ask myself two questions -
Can this improve if I revise my expectation?
Can this improve if I am more patient?
What I have been amazed to discover, is that in most cases, the answer is a resounding “yes.” In most cases, revising my expectation and being patient worked. In-fact, in many cases, the reason behind why things didn't work out exactly how I wanted them to, was revealed with time. It reminds me of something jobs once famously said – “you cannot connect the dots looking forward.”
What I have learned and what I am practicing early on in this year is to be mindful of expectations. To have an open mind and the humility to not treat an expectation as if it was certainty. To not give it that power. To simply notice the deviation and make adjustments by asking the two questions I shared earlier. As we navigate through the new year, I hope these two simple questions help you to ease some of the burden you might be feeling through expectations.