3.4 Our Highs and Lows of Expectations

A rollercoaster ride would be pretty boring if it just stayed level and at slow speeds. What makes a rollercoaster exciting is the heart pounding response they generate in us. It is their ups and especially their downs that get our blood flowing. What would life be if it were level and slow?

Without high expectations there would be no low ones. This Ying and Yang relationship requires that every high be eventually met with a low expectation. This cycle always ends where it starts, by setting another expectation. How high these expectations are exceeded will be met by a similar low.

All raised expectations are eventually met with a ceiling, a personal limit, which will result in an eventual failure. When our expectations are being lowered we will eventually hit a floor, our lower limit, which will eventually lead to a success. We are euphoric at our high and depressed at our low. The expectations cycle is not complete until the high fails and the low holds.

Expectation cycles have time frames. Many expectation cycles can occur at once, but not all of them will carry the same weight. Large life expectations, such as careers or relationships, have more impact than smaller ones, such as a bad movie. Every expectations cycle will influence future ones. If we find out that our spouse has cheated on us after 10 years of marriage, our future expectations about marriage will probably not include “till death do us part”.

A journey through an expectations cycle will include overlapping similar expectation outcomes. If we are excelling at a sales career and are on the fast track to be promoted to management, we may have one primary expectation that we will be promoted and another to be promoted in 2 months. We exceed one of these expectations and miss the other. As long as our exceeded expectation outweighs the missed one, our expectations will continue to build. Assume we get promoted to manager. Now as a manager we discover that the job is not as easy as our previous position. Upper management having such high expectations for us, now is disappointed and we start down the expectations cycle. Along the way to the bottom we may exceed some expectations, but we must go down as much as we had gone up to start the cycle over again. By completing the cycle we will begin at a new low and start building expectations again. Since upper management will have low expectations for us at this point, we will have more opportunities to exceed their expectations.

When a writer tells a story of their struggles with meeting their low expectations, the success of their writing can start their ascension toward a new high. A great tragedy can lead to triumph of equal magnitude. Great triumph can lead to equal tragedy.

The building of expectations takes longer than the lowering of them. The highest point of expectations is not as noticeable as the lowest point. Time seems to move quickly as expectations are rising. Time slows down while we are in a descending expectations cycle. There will almost always be pain at the bottom of expectations cycles. This characteristic of the expectations cycle is almost entirely attributed to how reluctant and hopeful we are.

3.5 The Birth Right of Expectations

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