Day 556. Running a successful life is a matter of expectations. Like Forrest Gump used to say: « Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. » If this sounds cliché, you can actually bend this truism by setting what you wanna get, and work towards it. This is what setting expectations is all about. However, like Tony Robbins likes to say « we tend to overestimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade ».
The whole question remains: how to correctly set expectations that we can hold ourselves accountable to? Over the years, I came with 4 rules that work in most cases and that help me setting them, raising them, and achieving them.
- If you feel the expectations are too low or just right, raise them by a fraction that will make you uncomfortable. If you feel the expectations are too high, they’re probably so for your current comfort zone, with the current resources you have. This is actually a great news and a great reason for growth. Have a positive look at them! In all cases, ensure you are uncomfortable with the expectations if you want to grow and challenge you!
- Enlist others to share these expectations and gather their ideas on how to achieve them. Push the borders of the thought process, move outside of the comfort zone in unchartered territories, and accept all ideas including the crazy ones.
- Prioritize, cut, and choose. You will never ever be able to execute all the ideas. This is the only step where reason and focus kick in. If you are spread too thin, you’ll do too many things, and will remain too shallow. Remember the old Pareto law: 20% of your resources will help you to achieve 80% of the goals. Focus on where you’re going to spend 80% of your efforts.
- Share the plan, the resources, and start the execution, with one very important set of activities: milestones! You need to stop regularly and measure where you are on your path. This will allow you to check you’re running at the right pace, need to enlist more resources, or raise the expectations again.
I will leave you with this famous quote from Michelangelo: « The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. »