Life is all about setting expectations. A poor job at this simple, often overlooked skill will result in a lifetime of stress and unhappiness.
At work, failing to set realistic expectations can mean that people assume you can do any task in any amount of time they need. “I need you to build a new fully-integrated customer database. We’ll launch it tomorrow.” Things like that happen in the workplace all the time. Sometimes it’s caused by having a boss that is clueless about the difficulty of what he or she is asking. But more often than not, it’s because you always do what he or she asks and you always get it done by the deadline, regardless how arbitrary or extreme.
If the same employee had regularly missed deadlines, pushed back, and told the boss things were impossible, perhaps the expectations wouldn’t be so high. Maybe they could even have a dialogue about what was realistic…. a sort of give and take. There’s only so much to be said for being a good soldier.
I can achieve almost any deadline given one important rule – I get to do it 100% my way. You can’t make any deadline if you’re relying on input from others. The law of meetings applies (to calculate the IQ of a group, start with 100 and subtract 5 points for each person).
The same is true in relationships. In my relationships, I always made the mistake of setting the bar for myself too high right off the bat. I would lavish girlfriends with fancy gifts and far too much attention. The result was always the same. The moment I slowed down the pace of my giving or attention, they would be angry and ultimately dump me. I used to think it was because they were just selfish, superficial beeotches (which they were), but it’s more accurate to say that I set a certain level of expectation and when I slowed down, it appeared to them that I no longer cared.
I can fully understand why many men are cheap and jerky to the women they date. When they do something nice for their girlfriend, she is ecstatic and shocked. It’s all about setting the tone right from the start. You can’t ever LOWER expectations successfully. You can only raise them. And once they go up, they stay up.
The key to a happy life is for everyone to think you’re a barely comIncredipetent, cheap bastard.
For many of you, congratulations – you’ve succeeded!