1 powerful bit of knowledge that can change your life

Managing expectations

Not too long ago a young woman shared with me how she wished there was a way to have more influence over what she expected in her life, and from others. It felt like there was no consistency to the outcomes of her expectations.

When her expectations produced what she had anticipated, it made her feel good, but when they didn’t turn out the way she expected it to, she really disliked how it emotionally frustrated and disillusioned her. Was there a way for her to have more power over how her expectations turn out?

Having power is something we all want. I don’t necessarily mean the type that is the domain of megalomaniacs. This is the power to change things, to have influence over your circumstances so that you can get more of what you want or desire. It is also the ability to eliminate what you don’t want in your life.

Somehow we believe that if we had this type of power, things would be very different in our lives. It would enable us to have massive influence to change any circumstance to what we wanted it to be. But as most of us have experienced, this power is not as accessible as we would like it to be. Most of the time it totally eludes us.

But what if this type of power does exist – how do you get to tap into it and use it?

Being aware of something, then having knowledge and understanding of it, and finally applying the knowledge is a form of personal power. It’s a type of roadmap to get you to a destination. This roadmap is what we will use as we seek to answer the question above.



Reading this article is the beginning of awareness. The next step is knowledge – so here we go.

So much of who we are hinges on the hopes and beliefs that we embrace – they are in essence our expectations. But here is something that very little conscious consideration is given to. It may seem simple and even obvious, but being more aware and using it is not so obvious;

Everything we do automatically has an expectation attached to it,

In any scenario there are a multitude of varied expectations in play.

  • These consist of your own expectations,
  • those of the people you are interfacing with, and
  • those that are around you in a group and social surroundings that you may not have direct interaction with.

The sheer complexity of all these different expectations is something that has to be carefully balanced and managed. By being aware of these elements, and knowing about how the different expectation elements work is a form of power in your hands. It enhances your ability to know when the expectations that exist within your surroundings are impacting you in a way that is not what you want. In the same circumstances, it can give you the ability to influence your surroundings or environment into a different direction, tone or outcome.

It will equip you with the insight to avoid embracing personal expectations that are flawed or set up to deliver disappointing results. This gives you an ability to establish more effective expectations from the outset and avoid the impact associated with failed or unrealised expectations.

Expectations are essentially your hopes, aspirations, beliefs, goals and desires. But it is more than this. They are constantly intertwined with a few equally powerful allies in the form of your emotions, how you perceive everything, the decisions you make and the purpose for everything in your life. Five very powerfully interwoven elements that are constantly in motion in everything you do. Touch one and it affects the others. This is the Expectation Continuum – but more on this later.

If you grasp the following points you will be well on your way to more effectively managing expectations in your own life, and managing them where more than one person is involved.

  • Everything automatically has an expectation attached to it;
  • Every expectation hinges on what we WANT, and what we DON’T WANT;
  • This defines what we believe in and what we hope for, and vice-versa;

“Expectations – what you know, don’t know, and what you assume”

Everything we believe and hope will happen is an expectation. Everything we believe and hope will not happen is also an expectation. Then there are the expectations that others have of us – the ones we know about, those we don’t know about, and the ones that we assume.

Expectation, belief and hope are so tightly intertwined that when you mention the one, you could be meaning any of the other. They are so core to who we are that without it we are nothing more than empty shells. Everything about us revolves around what we believe, hope and expect our world to be, and therefore its impact on us is life changing.

The real impact, and therefore power exerted on you, lies in what happens to you when expectations are realised or fail. When the things you expect to happen, actually happen, you are emotionally charged, encouraged, enthused, energised and have an optimistic outlook. You are motivated and energised to pursue new or future endeavours, and pursue the with zeal, passion, confidence and persistence.

When expectations fail to materialise the way you envisioned, then your outlook becomes a little more pessimistic, your emotions are less positive and your enthusiasm and energy plummet.

It influences whether you are confident, more inspired, courageous and action driven, or whether it becomes your limitations, discouragement, disillusionment, fear and therefore lack of desire or inability to pursue anything new.

About the Expectation Continuum: Expectations | Emotions | Perceptions | Purpose | Decisions

As you now know, expectations do not simply exist on their own. This is where the true power of expectations become known as they join forces with other powerful drivers in your life. But what is a continuum? It refers to “something that is made up of many parts, is always present and keeps on going but changes slowly over time”. So let’s have a brief look at these interactions.

Continuum graphic

  • For every expectation, there is any number of attached emotional states such as anticipation, anxiety, excitement, fear, disillusionment or excitement. Depending on the positive or negative outcome of the expectation, your emotions are going to react accordingly.
  • Add to this how you see or perceive things. Your perceptions influence how you see your world, shape your expectations, drive your choices and decisions, and will attach any number of associated emotional states to the whole equation. What if the way you perceived things was flawed. Think of the impact.
  • Now add your choices and decisions to the mix. Your decisions will be driven by the way you see your world and feel about the anticipated outcome. As a combined force, expectations, emotions, perceptions, purpose and decisions are inter-linked and perpetually influence and impact each other. Not one of them goes unaffected by the outcome or change in any of the others.
  • And then there is purpose. Anything you do that does not have a genuine purpose will be like pursuing a mirage in the desert. Defining the purpose for something asks a very difficult, but necessary set of questions that help establish the validity of anything you do, and once defined, ensures that any hurdles, stumbling blocks or attempts by others to deviate you from your destination, are solidly overcome.

Related articles:

[1] Perception. Is it really what you think it is?

[2] What drives your decisions

[3] Why are you doing this – what’s your purpose?

Understanding the Expectation Continuum is important to you because it is the catalyst, the builder and driver behind:

What you     BELIEVE in

HOPE for


What             INSPIRES you





How you       FEEL about things

SEE things



Attach VALUE to what you strive for and want to achieve

COMMIT to things or give up at the first signs of resistance

ACHIEVE or FAIL at what you want to achieve

Manage TURMOIL and CONFLICT in life

Back to the question asked by the young woman. “Is there a way to have more power over how her expectations turn out?” The answer is YES

Awareness and knowledge of these interactions, the elements that are inseparable and how they influence, impact, define and direct almost every aspect of your daily life is powerful. When you know what sits behind so many things in your life, you are able to make decisions that don’t set a wrong chain reaction in motion, you can avoid certain scenarios, and you can influence the potential success of desired outcomes rather than leave it to chance.

Managing multiple expectations


Whenever there is more than one person, there will be just as many expectations that are in play. Now the face of the game changes significantly and with more complexities. The more you understand about expectations and the continuum, the better equipped you will be to influence the direction and outcome of these interactions.

Expectations are with us all the time and in many guises. It is powerful to you or as a group when you know how to use it correctly. Ignore it and it will impact your life as it pleases. Use it incorrectly and it will work against you.

Ask yourself this –

  • What if everything you were taught, that you believed was the right way – is wrong?
  • What if your dreams and goals and hopes are built on the wrong foundation?
  • And what if, this is the path you are on right now?

The journey to a different outcome begins when you accept that the battle is between what you know and what you don’t know, what has been working for you and against you, between what you are willing to own up to, and what you are willing to change.

It’s a new road of awareness, something that can reignite your belief that you can get more from the things in your life.


To embrace this as a powerful entity in your life will require deeper insight into what I have briefly highlighted in this article. To expand on your awareness, understanding and how to apply this in your life, group or business join me for insights at Stevederek.com

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About the Author : Steve Vanstraaten

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