High Hopes, Low Expectations

It’s all about expectations.

In both our personal and professional lives, we are often driven to action by expectations. Consider a few scenarios:

  1. You buy the iPhone and expect that you’ll rarely, if ever, drop a call (After all, AT&T claims to have “more bars in more places.”)
  2. You attend a conference with the expectation that you will walk away with 50 new leads.
  3. You start eating healthier with the expectation that you’ll lose 20 pounds.
  4. You expect that a co-worker is going to change even though every indication tells you that will never happen.

The one thing all four examples have in common is high, if not unrealistic, expectations. When those expectations are not met, the outcome is often one of frustration and disappointment. Instead of placing blame elsewhere, try re-framing the situation.

High Hope, Low Expectations

Kristina once told me to have high hopes and low expectations. As someone with historically very high expectations of myself and others around me, this was a tough concept to grasp. I certainly have not perfected it, but I’m working on it.

Take those same four examples above and apply “high hope, low expectations” to them. Here’s what you get:

  1. You buy the iPhone and hope to have really good cell coverage, but have low expectations going in. You quickly realize that, thanks to AT&T, you drop calls all of the time. Yes, you are disappointed, but you had a feeling that this may happen. On the flip side, when a call does *not* get dropped, you rejoice!
  2. You attend a conference hoping that you will walk away with 50 new leads, but knowing full well that 20 is more realistic. You come home with 25 leads and are pretty happy.
  3. You start eating healthier hoping that you’ll lose 20 pounds. You lose some weight, but more importantly your cardiovascular health and overall sense of well-being improves. You’re thrilled.
  4. You hope that a co-worker will change even though every indication tells you that will never happen. The co-worker doesn’t change. You are somewhat bummed, but then again, their actions were in line with your expectations.

I am not suggesting that you have no expectations nor that you lower your goals (I’d argue that goals and expectations are not the same thing). I’m just asking you to consider lowering your expectations and increasing your hope. With lower expectations, you are less likely to be disappointed. With high hopes, if things go “right” you will be pleased. See how it works?

High hopes, low expectations.

Sound reasonable?

DJ Waldow

Justin Premick
Justin Premick

My $.02: hope is what you do when something that significantly affects the likelihood of your desired outcome is out of your control.

One the one hand, this is fine and reasonable, since you can't control everything... but on the other hand, it is *only* fine if you've first done all you can to influence everything that *is* in your control and affects the likelihood of your desired outcome.

To take one of your examples... you look at coverage maps, evaluate where you'll be when you typically/often use the iPhone (Your city? Other domestic cities? International destinations?), research users' experiences in those places. *Then* (if you still buy the iPhone) you hope, because you can't control network performance on any given day/week/month/moment after you make the purchase.

So yes, hope... but not until you've earned the right to do so.


i always approach it with high hopes,realistic expectations, and a game plan to make it HAPPEN....and I know thats how you really approach it!!

Kelly Rivard
Kelly Rivard

Oddly enough, this concept has been a topic of discussion for me and the folks I work with closely via the AgChat Foundation. Because my expectations are pretty low for some big things (like my SXSW panel proposal getting into the second selection), the others may try to encourage me. It's great, but I also run with the strong conviction that high expectations mean disappointment.

After all, I devoted the first 18 years of my life to having unrealistic expectations for myself. I like this new system better; expect the worst (or at most mediocre/moderate results) and hope for the best.

I don't know what to expect for SXSW; we were in the top 60 trending panels during PanelPicker voting. However, I know the likelihood of us getting through is still fairly low. If we go, though, it's safe to assume I'll be messing myself with excitement.