Today my daughter overslept and I had to take her to school. Usually when that happens, I get all grouchy and resentful. Dammit, I thought I’d get a nice quiet coffee but NO, I’m scraping ice off the car.
Today I didn’t mind. It was fine. It’s the first day back after winter break, so I expected her to oversleep. I expected to take her to school.
I expected to scrape ice off the car… OK no, I forgot about that part and did get a little grouchy.
Our feelings surface from the difference between expectations and reality. Not from reality by itself.
In our career, people may ask us what we want in our next role.
“Where do you want to be in five years?” Answering this question hurts in several ways.
The more specific our vision of our future selves, the more we set ourselves up for disappointment.
We hide from ourselves all the other possibilities that we didn’t know about.
We tie our future self to the imagined desires of our present self.
In the next five years, I will gain new interests, new friends, and new ideas. Let those, along with the new situations I find myself in, guide my future steps.
Expectations are dangerous. We need some of them, especially in the near future, to take action. The less specific they can be, the more potential remains open to us, and the happier we can be.
Tomorrow, I will have a quiet coffee or take my daughter to school; I don’t have to know which until it happens. Five years from now, I have no idea what I’ll be doing — probably something cooler than my present self can imagine.