I’ve just finished reading ‘The Third Space’ by Dr Adam Fraser. It has a whole lot of take always and a big one for me was expectations versus intentions. He says that we often carry a whole set of expectations into every situation and there’s the possibility that we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Think about when you come home at the end of the day. If you have a partner, you might expect them to be ready to listen to you download about how good or bad your day was. If you have children, you might think they’ll listen to you and eat the dinner you’ve lovingly (or resentfully) made… and enjoy it! If you’ve got a pet you might be expecting some affection or at the very least that they haven’t destroyed your favourite shoes/hat/pillow while you were at work.
The reality is more likely to be that your partner wants to download about their day and doesn’t have much energy to hear about yours. The kids will be tired and cranky and will definitely NOT want to do their homework OR eat their vegetables. And if you’ve got a dog, you’ll probably get some love when you walk in the door but there’s every chance they’ve also chewed/scratched something you’re fond of. If you have a cat, they’ll greet you when they’re good and ready.
At work we have all sorts of expectations. To be told we’re doing a good job, having teammates who pull their weight, a tearoom that isn’t filled with dirty coffee cups. Even in the best workplaces these things don’t happen consistently.
This life stuff happens all the time. And we’re really good at setting ourselves up for disappointment. We expect one thing and the reality is very different. So how can you turn it around?
Adam Fraser suggests swapping expectations for intentions. In practice that means before you walk in the door at home or at work you put aside your expectations and set some intentions. That might mean:
Instead of expecting your partner to listen to you, set an intention to be a kind and supportive partner.
Instead of expecting the kids to do as they are told, set an intention to be a patient and fun parent.
Instead of expecting team mates to do their fair share, set an intention to be a clear communicator.
When we change our mindset to intentions we are focussing on something we can control. We can’t control what others think, feel, or do. What we can change is what we think, feel, and do. Intentions give us that key and allow us to unlock a whole lot of happiness.
Are expectations making you unhappy? What’s one change you could make to change your expectations for an intention?