If you want to succeed and be happy in life, should you aim very high? Is it ok to desire above average achievement? Is it recommended that you aim for the stars if you want to reach the moon?
Those of us who have indulged in self-help material for any length of time will surely have heard the wise, old saying that goes something like; “You get what you expect”!
After years of studying procrastinators and task completers, one will stop believing a lot of things that one finds in books. This thing about expectations being the seeds of achievement is a case in point.
Not to be controversial; but I’d rather remove the rose tinted glasses and say things as they really are! The world out there is filled with procrastinators who expect great things from themselves. I have known people who I would term geniuses, filled with great business ideas, revolutionary inventions and strategies. They expect positive things from themselves, but they hardly get started.
My point is that Grand Expectations, without the right attitude, are a cause of procrastination. I’ve seen it happen!
On the other hand, hugely successful people, attribute their success to their grand expectations; so what is the truth? Are great expectations a catalyst or a blockage to success?
If building the life you want is compared to cooking a recipe; then great expectations can be compared to an ingredient, such as spice. The right amount in the right recipe will produce tasty results. The wrong amount in the wrong mixture will ruin the whole thing.
So, if you decide to have great expectations be very careful what you add to them. Adding the wrong things to high expectations will make you slide into procrastination, while adding the right ingredients will be a meaningful step for you to become a task completer.
I will now tell you what I observed to be the wrong and right ingredients and you are challenged to make your own re-assesment about your mixture.
Great expectations are ruined by unrealistic timelines. That is the first and main thing to eliminate if you don’t want your expectations to be a cause of procrastination.
Many people dream of becoming overnight millionaires.They never do because they keep their mind programmed on searching for get rich quick solutions.
Make a realistic plan and a realistic timeline for achieving your dreams. You will find that you have suddenly increased your chance of actually succeeding even if success will not be reached quickly. Most, if not all procrastinators fear that they will lose enthusiasm along the way if they have a long term plan. Actually though, what is the chance of losing enthusiasm along the long way? Much less than one supposses. Since quick fixes don’t work well, you may rest assured that long term plans will offer more enthusiasm than a thousand unrealistically short ones ever will. Besides, have you considered that enthusiasm is built up more easily by doing actual tasks than mere fantasizing about possible but improbable great futures?
The second element that doesn’t fit with great expectations, is unrealistic effort. There are two kinds of unrealistic effort.
There are those who believe that success will come without any real effort. These will tell you things like, “I want to work smarter not harder” or “I am attracting it with least effort”.
Get real! You DO have to work hard to meet great expectations. I suggest that you may enjoy it, and hard doesn’t essentially mean painful. But whether you do it with a smile or with a frown, whether you reduce the hardness with smartness or leave it as it is; there is effort to be made.
Then there’s the other kind of unrealistic effort. This comes from the people that will tell you “I believe I can do anything” and expect to start a multinational business entity and run it by themselves, taking care of every minute detail. (I am exagerating to make my point clear here, of course).
These people become overwhelmed and procrastination ridden quickly and for obvious reasons.
So in conclusion, my challenge to the big dreamers out there can be summed up in the following few words.
Dream Big because big dreams add spice to life, but… Avoid being naive or your big dreams will crumble; and the bigger they are the harder they fall.
There are no unrealistic dreams, only unrealistic timelines and efforts. Finding the right balance between big dreams and factual reality is the challenge I invite you to undertake. Add a little commitment and fantastic feelings of motivation will be your constant companion. Go for it!
Mark Mifsud – Author of Ultimate Procrastination Cure, currency trader, nice guy and lover of chocolate