Having a dream, goal or aim is not the same as having expectations. As a man in business I have learned a lot about setting, maintaining and meeting the expectations of customers, employees, colleagues and investors. This is not something I would have learned otherwise and that’s clear when I talk to other people about it. I don’t know if it’s just because of who I am or partly because I have to manage so many expectations that I try not to have any but I have a lot of dreams and goals so I decided to write this article on Dreams Vs Expectations.
I recently watched a very funny stand up comic talk about depression and as he was talking from a position of suffering from depression I enjoyed it more because I like people who are comfortable poking fun at themselves because I do the same, I am bored of people who take themselves too seriously and get offended at the tiniest thing. The comedian said how in developed countries we have a higher rate of suicide than in Africa where people are starving and 1 in 4 people are dying from AIDS. He joked that it is incredible that we are more depressed than those in the third world. He humorously puts this down to in the west we hold on to impossible dreams and when we don’t reach them we get depressed but in Africa their dream is: don’t die today!
Although this makes for interesting viewing he has got it slightly wrong; it’s not unfulfilled dreams that depress us, it’s unrealistic expectations. There are also a thousand other complex causes, depression is complicated and in the developed world we live complicated lives.
I don’t quite know what it’s like to wake up in the morning with my main aim to make it back to bed in the evening without dying but I do know what it’s like to not have anywhere to call home, be very hungry and worried where my next meal might come from. Being homeless as a young person is very tough and even though I didn’t realize it at the time I was in grave danger on quite a few occasions. This experience 15 years ago taught me some very valuable lessons about what is important in life. In my later life it has also kept me grounded and my expectations simple, disappointing events were usually put in perspective and fear of the unknown is never a reason to stand still for me.
I have seen so many would be entrepreneurs have ridiculous expectations about what they can achieve in short spaces of time or ideas about how things “should” be and they are nearly always disappointed. However it’s important to have aims and dreams, I always have but I never had any expectations like “this time next year I’m going to be a millionaire” or “I must have a Ferrari if people are going to take me seriously as an entrepreneur”. Just writing this I am beginning to realize what a hard topic this is to get across because it’s not something that is discussed very often.
About 10 years ago I worked in Florida helping to setup an IT firm with a very experienced businessman. I was struggling to get some of the details right and the start-up capital we had was running out when he told me one day that I was spending too much time on incidentals and that we needed to concentrate on getting a great product out there and getting the money in, NOW. He was right, I was wasting way too much time worrying about stupid details on the website or a logo when we weren’t chasing down the first customers and working out how we were going to take payments to get the money in that we desperately needed. Many times since then when I have got bogged down with unimportant details I have told myself “concentrate on getting a great product out and the money in ASAP”. In fact at times I had to tell myself that every day to shift the focus of a venture until the money started rolling in.
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur or run your own business to follow these principles we are all guilty of getting tied up with silly little inconsequential details and unrealistic expectations about life when if we just cut the crap and got on with it we could have everything we dream of. That is the basics of it; when it suits us we are all full of excuses, distractions, unimportant tasks, details, semantics and stupid expectations but the bare reality is we just need to clear the decks of our lives of all this crap and concentrate on what’s important. Get back to basics, get on with it and make it happen!
Have your dreams and stick to your goals but be flexible, let go of your expectations and do whatever it takes to make your dreams happen.