Posted by: Phil Anderson | October 20, 2014

Great Expectations

Expectation, anticipation, hopes and dreams. These are powerful things. They keep us going and encourage us not to give up. But when they fail to materialize, or take too long in coming, they can also be a source of disappointment and discouragement.

Our expectations have a big impact on our evaluation of results. Let’s compare two scenarios:

  • There’s a movie I’ve really been looking forward to. The trailers look great, I love the actors, and I’ve heard good things about the story. I go into the theater expecting to see a really great movie, but it turns out to be just “pretty good” and I’m disappointed.
  • A friend goes with me to see the movie. He’s never seen the trailers and doesn’t know anything about it. He just hopes it’s not boring. It turns out to be “pretty good” and he’s happy.

We’ve both seen the same movie, but our expectations affected our evaluation.

Recognizing this relationship is a key element of avoiding disappointment and depression. A writer who aspires to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling may start out with a lot of excitement but will soon be discouraged and feel like giving up.

I’m not suggesting that anyone should give up on dreaming or setting goals, but it’s important that goals be realistic and achievable. A large part of getting published is being at the right place and the right time, or meeting the right people, or having the right manuscript when the market shifts. These are things we can’t control, so pinning your hopes and happiness on them is an invitation to discouragement.

In my own life, I believe in providence rather than coincidence. God is the sovereign author of my life’s story. If I keep my goals aligned with his will I’ll be successful. If I’m aspiring to something he doesn’t have planned for me, I’m bound to be disappointed.

What is your experience with disappointment? Is it based on misplaced expectations? Please leave comments below.

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