Seth Godin has written about “the paradox of expectations” – his point being that since we are likely to achieve little if our expectations are low – and likely to be disappointed if our expectations are always high – we should just work hard with no expectations. Fair enough, Mr. Godin – if that’s what it takes for some people to get their rears into gear, then that’s that’s the mindset they should adopt. As for me, I prefer to use the JMUNDMPTGTD approach (just-made-up-now-discredited-multiple-personality-theory-of-getting-things-done).
What I mean is that we should all find out what approach works best for us, and for most of us, including myself, contrast is at least as important as consistency. Use whatever approach works best for the personality of the task at hand. If you always work with no expectations, you indeed just might get what you expect! But if you work with low expectations when the challenge is great, it may help you get through the tough work of doing one incremental task at a time without stressing about achieving the greater goal right away.
When the goal is in sight and it takes a big dose of motivation to push through to the end, that might be a great time to have high expectations. And when you absolutely at all costs have to get though the stack of to-do notes on your desk, even though they don’t significantly help you get closer to that lofty set of lifetime goals you set for yourself during that visualization session with the Tarot reader, that might be a good time to dig in with a ginormous pot of Paul Newman’s French Roast Coffee, get to work, and have no expectations at all!
Thanks to the wonderful and talented Jean Stranquist for providing the inspiration for this post!