One of my son’s teachers asked me at the beginning of last school year what my expectations were for his education for the year. I told her, “I don’t care if he learns to read first in the class or last in the class, I just want you to work with Meggie and me to give him a love of learning. If we teach him to love learning, the rest will take care of itself.” I could tell she was expecting a very different answer.
Expectations play a powerful role in our relationships. We all have expectations about everything and everyone. But the hardest expectations to fulfill are the ones we don’t even know about. Our children have expectations, but often they are unspoken. Our spouses have expectations, but often they are unspoken. Our managers have expectations, but often they are unspoken. This leaves all of us guessing, and none of us are mind readers. In the end we just end up frustrated and disappointed, because we never knew what was expected to begin with.
As you send your children back to school, make sure they know what you expect of them. If you don’t know what your manager at work expects of you, ask her to tell you clearly. If you don’t know what your spouse expects of you, ask her. If you don’t know what your clients or customers expect, ask them. It is impossible to deliver on expectations you don’t even know about.
Of course, some people have unreasonable expectations. At least once you know about them, you can begin a dialogue about why what they expect might not be possible.
Get clear about what you expect. Get clear about what others expect of you. If you do, you will find life a lot less frustrating.
I want to thank everyone for their kind words about my new book, Resisting Happiness. I am glad the message is resonating with people. Lots of people have been asking if this book will be available as part of our parish book program this Christmas. Yes, it will be. I hope you will consider sharing a copy with everyone in your parish as a Christmas present.
May God bless you and all those you love. Have a great month.