Expectations, Agreements, & Making Your Dreams Happen Through Communication

Expectation: something we want to happen or something we think will happen based on our individual beliefs about what’s reasonable/probable.

Agreement: an expectation that is communicated to another party and that the other party explicitly promises to fulfill.

Expectation: “I thought you were going to call Tom to confirm the appointment! Why would you NOT do that?”

Agreement: “We’re all set for the meeting next Tuesday. Can you send Tom a confirmation email 24-hours beforehand? Thanks!”

The problem with expectations is that most of us have different concepts of what’s reasonable and probable.

If my concept of what’s reasonable is the standard, you’re going to fall short every single time.

If your concept of what’s reasonable is the standard, I’m going to look like a bumbling idiot on my best day of the week.

When expectations clash, unnecessary disappointment ensues.

The solution: Transform your expectations into agreements.

Avoid making the assumption that other people are making the same assumptions as you.

If you know you’re going to feel resentful because of an unmet expectation, translate your expectation into a request. Then proactively solicit the other party’s agreement.

In order to be effective at this, you have to care more about creating the outcomes you want than about being on the winning side of an argument.

This isn’t about the “right” way to communicate versus the “wrong” way to communicate. This is about experiencing the peace of mind that comes from taking ownership of the results that matter most to you.

If you care about your desires and dreams, why leave such a precious thing in the hands of someone else’s ability to accurately predict what they need to do for you?

If you’re thinking “I shouldn’t have to make my expectations clear,” I agree. You shouldn’t have to.

The world would be a much easier place if we could all just count on each other to show up and deliver whenever needed without any prompting.

I’m just here to remind you that we don’t live in that world. Unfortunately, we got dropped off in the other universe. The universe where good people forget things, overlook things, miscalculate things, underestimate things, and completely drop the ball on things. It happens.

If you want to improve your odds of success, don’t just focus on what people should do. Focus on what they could do if they had better information.

It’s not just the nice thing to do. It’s the selfish thing to do. When you do that for them, you’re really doing it for you.

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Meaning: Manufactured By You

“Meaning,” as in “I want a job that has meaning” or “I want a relationship that has meaning” isn’t a single nirvana experience you get to hold onto forever simply by finding the right job or the right partner.

Meaning emerges from a pattern of thinking, observing, processing, learning, and creating that has to be cultivated over time.

Circumstances and conditions matter, but they aren’t enough to supply meaning.

Meaning is a participatory phenomenon.

Good opportunities can make things easier, but there will always be a level of meaning that has to be manufactured.

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Are Your Dreams Keeping up with You?

Whenever you follow a dream, it leads to new observations, discoveries, and relationships.

These experiences will modify your sense of what is possible and what is preferable.

To chase after a dream is to undertake a surprising and challenging process of personal transformation.

It’s impossible to act on your dreams while remaining identical to the person you were when you took the first step.

For this reason, dreams need to be upgraded in order to account for the evolution we undergo when dreams are pursued.

Who we are is always changing. Why should our dreams remain the same?

Follow your dreams, but don’t forget to let your dreams follow you.

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Learning Is the Ultimate Motivational Tool

Most people feel unmotivated not because they lack good pep talks, but because they lack good perspective.

The key to inspiration is better information.

When you understand how things work, you’re less vulnerable to self-defeating assumptions about how those things won’t work for you.

Instead of forcing yourself to feel successful and productive, try to understand something new. Seek out a different vantage point.

When you can think clearly, critically, and creatively about things, your feelings and actions will follow.

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Is That Woo Woo You’re Using?

I have a term I’d like to coin: “The fear of woo-wooing out.”

Should I call this FOWO?

Anyway, here’s the idea: the fear of woo-wooing out is when you hesitate to do things that are fun, fulfilling, or useful to you because your friends might think you’re being too weird, too new-agey, or too unscientific. No one wants to be accused of practicing “woo woo.”

Example: Let’s say you like to practice guided imagery meditations, or creative visualization exercises, or positive affirmations because they put you in a space where you feel more focused and motivated, BUT…you’re not sure if the scientific community has reached a consensus about how those activities affect human performance.

Are you being delusional? Are you engaging in wishful thinking? Is this merely the placebo effect at work?

I’m no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but here’s my two cents:

It’s not “woo woo” if it actually works for you.

Your personal experience is a lab where ideas can be put to the test.

Experimenting with ideas and sticking with what proves useful is not being woo woo. That’s being a pragmatic individual who understands the relative and real value of subjective experience.

If something consistently delivers the outcomes and advantages you want, you don’t need the permission of your local physics professor to do it.

As long as you don’t preach your personal strategies as some kind of universal philosophy that works for all people in all conditions, you’re entirely free to do what works for you. As long as you don’t equate “this works for me” with ” this is objectively true and everyone else should do it too, ” you’re safe from woo woo.

It doesn’t matter if your tools and techniques are quirky. What matters is your willingness to measure them by the results they generate in your own life.

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I’m Taking My Time With This One

I’m looking forward to the new year, but I’m also not rushing the current year out the door.

The greatest rewards belong to those who can eagerly anticipate the future while also learning how to make peace with the present moment.

It’s great to get excited about the big finish. It’s even better if you can make your way there with a playful spirit.

As Alan Watts observed, “If the point of a song was to finish it, the best musicians would be the ones who played the fastest.”

Enjoy the song. It’ll be over soon enough.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

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