“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”― Gloria Steinem
Many of us go through life feeling like we should not expect the very best.
You may be cautious and careful about what you expect from your life.
You may also feel like expecting the best is the quick path to disappointment.
This may be true but it is also true that we only get what we expect, aim for, and feel like we deserve and take action towards in our life.
I know the feeling because I was one of the cautious people. I thought that I should not expect the very best in my life.
I was fine with whatever life was serving me and did not want to upset the applecart by hoping and expecting more.
Then I realized there was a better way for me approach my goals and my life. The better way is to come up with the boldest and the most awesome version of life that you want to create for yourself. But the key part is to detach the disappointment from the process and allow for more flexible outcomes.
Expect great things to happen in your life today but do not get caught up in the idea of “things should exactly work out this way or that way.”
How to expect the best, make great things possible and not be disappointed?
The process is:
1. Dream And Have Goals That Are BIG
“You see what you expect to see, Severus.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Your goals and dreams should be bigger than your comfort zone. Take some time every few months to modify and reaffirm your goals.
Here is a test to find out of your goals and dreams are big enough or not:
Do you find it greatly exciting when you think about them?
Do you feel fear and hesitation also because they are bigger than your self-concept?
Great, because if you do not feel the resistance and fear, it means that you are doing something that you have always done and you are not willing to expand and grow.
2. Write Them Down
Writing has magic and power in it. Writing allows our minds to express and internalize the message that we are thinking out.
Often when you write things down, you may feel like it is impossible to do. This is normal and natural because now you mean business and when this happens, your habitual self gets a bit unsettled.
I use my trusted moleskine notebook to write in my own handwriting about the goals and dreams that I have for my life.
I also give myself the freedom to make changes as necessary to fit my goals with my life.
It is important for me to not feel trapped or tunnel-visioned by my plans and goals and allow for some creative flexibility.
3. Make Them Exciting
The goals should induce emotions and make you feel great at a deep and visceral level.
This excites the elephant or the sub-conscious brain that Jonathan Haidt describes in The Happiness Hypothesis and gets it on board. Haidt explains that the conscious brain is the rider and getting both in consonance is important to move forward successfully in life.
Find the aspects of your goals and plans that really excite you and reconnect with them frequently.
Celebrate the small victories and allow yourself to feel great about your work!
4. Look For Evidence
“To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect” ― Jane Austen
Look for evidence and corroboration from your past where you were able to achieve big goals.
Alternatively, find others similar to you that have achieved big goals and serve up evidence for your rider or the conscious brain and make it believe that it is possible to achieve the goal.
This is very important because the two ways to bring about change that is believable by you is to appeal to your conscious mind by providing evidence that it is possible and to appeal to the sub-conscious as we discussed in step 3.
Of course, when you get both the rider and elephant on board together, you see the maximum benefits in your life.
5. Script The Critical Moves: Simplicity And Focus
“…you cannot eat every tadpole and frog in the pond, but you can eat the biggest and ugliest one, and that will be enough, at least for the time being.” ― Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog!
Your Major goals and dreams need to be actionable and simple enough to follow. Otherwise you will be confounded by the complexity of the process and end up doing nothing.
Dan and Chip Heath call this “scripting the critical moves” in their book Switch. The idea is that you should be able to have a very clearly defined and actionable goal.
For example, I believe that if you want to learn photography, writing “learn Photography” in your list is too general and vague.
Personally, this kind of generic instruction never worked or works for me. I have found great treasure in the idea of scripting the critical moves.
To learn photography, I would put on my list: “take 25 pictures every day while changing the exposure settings.” This gives my mind to take action on something that it understands and can grasp on.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”― Leonardo da Vinci
Instructions need to be highly SPECIFIC and also very easily implementable.
If instructions and lists are vague, more often than not, nothing gets done.
Simplicity and focus are very powerful allies in the process of not getting overwhelmed.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
6. Take Small Actions To Make The Behaviors Habitual
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
This is the precise reason that most new years BIG goals and resolutions fall flat on the face. They are simply too much and too soon. BF Fogg of the persuasion lab at Stanford is a big fan of taking very small steps and changing the context or the environment for changing behaviors.
I love the idea from Fogg that if you want to take up flossing as a habit, begin with flossing one tooth. Then add another and so on. In order to make things habitual, you have to take very small moves.
When you add things gradually in small bits, you do not overwhelm or confuse the circuitry that keeps things steady, safe and similar in your life.
7. Improvise Or Change things To Test Them Out
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein
This is a very critical step that most people do not implement.
It happened to me in the past. I kept spinning my wheels in a project till I realized that until I really engaged with different methods or allowed different ways of approaching the problem, I was simply wasting my time.
A quick implement, testing things out and analyzing the results to learn and then pivot or persevere is the method that Eric Ries teaches in his Lean Startup model.
I think that the single most significant reason that people get stuck in their goals is that they get overly attached to one idea and refuse to look at the data or the feedback that is coming at them.
They also refuse to make changes and implement new ideas quickly enough to make a change. Usually, it is after many months that people realize this and then it is already too late and the motivation has gone rock bottom.
“Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop is at the core of the Lean Startup model.”― Eric Ries
8. Have A Favorable Attitude During The Process
“Enthusiasm is a supernatural serenity.” ― Henry David Thoreau
This is key because you may get disappointed from the setbacks and failures that you will inevitably see on the path.
Studies have shown the efficacy of positivity and optimism as indicators of feeling greater life satisfaction and that happiness is an important state for success.
A few ideas that have helped me:
Become more optimistic. Pessimism kills a great dream and goal very fast.
Attempt to engage a problem.
Become a problem solver. Not a problem-complainer. The more you engage and are willing to solve a problem or go towards a goal, the more likely you will be able to solve it.
Become happy now. Not later. Not after achieving that goal. Do things that nourish your body, mind and spirit.
Enhance the level of positive emotions and enthusiasm in your life. This does not mean that you will not have negative emotions or experience a lack of motivation. However, feeling great and experiencing enthusiasm are wonderful ways to feel excited and move forward towards your goals.
Be decisive in your life. You feel a renewed sense of personal power when you decide and take the first step forward.
9. Allow Room For Contemplation And Detachment
“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.” ― C. JoyBell C
Sitting in silence or taking a hike in nature or other nourishing activities are great because they give you the room to disconnect from your goals and have insights and ideas that are highly beneficial.
When you allow detachment from the outcome and do not get fixated exactly on how the future ought to play out, you are engaging a powerful force. You are redefining disappointment and how you look at setbacks and failures.
This is key because many people give up when they face crushing disappointments and lack the conviction to follow through because the best laid plans are not working out.
When you are not in the grip of disappointment and negative feelings, you have the option of thinking things through and make the changes necessary.
How to detach and get beyond disappointment:
Sitting in meditation and silence even if it is for a few minutes.
Deep breathing and getting centered.
Refocusing on a solution or a “bright spot.”
Actively learning from the failure and setbacks and allowing them to be teachers.
Now over to you! Please let me know in the comments if this post resonated with you. What are the structures that you have setup in your life to expect the best and make things happen?