Expectation can be a funny thing. Two people can have the exact same experience. One will be happy with the result and the other disappointed. This comes down to the art of managing expectations.
12 months ago, I took a moment to review the aftermath of the Australian Covid 19 crisis. With the exception of Victoria, it appeared that the majority of the country was through the worst of the virus.
Lockdowns were minimal and businesses were getting back on track. The government incentives appeared to do their job well and Australia was the benchmark across the world for managing the virus. I felt we were over the worst of it and, with a strong vaccination program, things would return to normal over the course of 6-9 months.
Now I know that was an unrealistic expectation. However, few knew that at the time.
I am by no means an expert at managing my own expectations. Anyone that sees me watch a Dragons game in the NRL will attest to this. But I do aim to help manage my clients’ expectations when it comes to financial and business outcomes and have gleaned some insights along the way.
My top tips for managing expectations:
Emotion and expectation are a dangerous combination
It is only natural that emotion will play a role in our expectations, but it can sometimes blind us to a realistic outcome. Take for example the sale of a house. Emotional attachment may create an unrealistic expectation of the property value. Memories, history and events unfortunately hold little value to an external purchaser. When it comes to creating realistic expectations it’s important to remove emotion.
Expectations must be flexible
Now more than ever we must allow for circumstances to dictate our expectations. Whether it is lockdowns, closed borders, vaccinations or other non-Covid related circumstances, sometimes we simply cannot achieve what we want in the time frame we have planned. If external factors prevent you from achieving your goals, then reset in a timeframe that is more achievable.
Retrospectively assess your expectations
Quite often when we fail to reach a set goal, our immediate response is disappointment and a sense of failure. After the initial emotional reaction has passed, it is important to revisit the matter and assess why our expectation was not met. On review, you might find that the goal or expectation was unrealistic, driven by emotion or inflexible (perhaps all three). Once this assessment has been made it will help manage future expectations.
Planning for a successful expectation outcome
Ever heard someone say I want to retire at 50 or 60 or even younger? Financial expectations require extensive planning. If you have an expectation to generate wealth, you need a plan in place to meet that expectation. Many financial expectations are not achievable without considerable lifestyle adjustments. The more you plan the better chance you have of achieving that expectation.
Failing to manage expectations can have a detrimental impact on your mental health, especially in current times. For many people getting through each day in lockdown is an achievement.
As we begin to return to a somewhat normal life, it is important to ensure we manage whatever personal, financial or business expectations we set. We cannot expect things to change overnight. However, over time, by considering where we are today, we can all set an expectation of a better tomorrow.