Goals vs. Expectations – A Buzzer Beater!

by Ray Reuter on March 24, 2010

I am a huge fan and believer of setting and striving toward GOALS.  Goals set my intention, my focus, my direction, and establish a focal point for my thoughts and actions.  Goals are best if they are based on activities and actions that I can take to achieve and accomplish a particular outcome.  I can control and influence my thoughts and behaviors to a far greater extent than the actual outcome.  My activities thus drive my results.  For instance, I can’t control my weight … but I can control my eating and exercise which impact my weight.  I can’t control if you will buy my services … but I can control my communications, networking, service, follow-up, and so forth.

Then there are EXPECTATIONS, which are different and more dangerous than goals.  Expectations come from a place that assumes I already have the desired outcome.  I expect it, it’s mine, I deserve it, its a done deal.  Positive expectations boost confidence—such as, I expect to win the prize or make the sale or get the promotion.  Negative expectations promote despair—such as, I expect to lose or fail or blow it.

The challenge is when the desired outcome is not met.  I believe goals lead to greater responsibility—I am accountable for the effort (or lack of effort) for my actions.  I own it.  When I work hard, yet fall short of a specific result, I still have the satisfaction of the work.  On the other hand, I believe expectations lead to blame and the lack of responsibility.  Since the desired outcome was mine and I deserved it, when I fall short I want to blame someone / something else and make excuses.

I was contemplating all this in the days after the loss by the Kansas Jayhawks to the Northern Iowa Panthers in the NCAA tournament.  I believe UNI entered the tournament with GOALS and KU entered the tournament with EXPECTATIONS.  Win or lose, UNI was going to feel good about themselves.  For KU, only a win mattered—that was the “expectation.”  A loss was unthinkable, unimaginable.

Which team are do you play on?  Do you focus on GOALS or EXPECTATIONS?  And how is that impacting your life and work?

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