We strive to make a difference in the world, setting audacious goals. But, then, expectations creep in to match those bold intentions and we get attached. If we fall short--even if we moved many truckloads of dirt, rather than the entire mountain—we tend to invalidate what we did accomplish.
An alternative is to shoot for a moderate level of result that we’re more likely to attain. But since the problem stems from coupling aspirations to expectations, uncoupling them is better still. In effect, it allows you to have your cake (= what you dream of), and eat it too (= get nourishment from whatever the results are).
So here’s a life hack to develop powerful intentions and realistic expectations that improve the odds of getting what you really really want…and celebrating whatever you get. More ease. Less stress. Sound good? And, by the way, you might find this a more satisfying process than the typical approach to New Year’s resolutions—which is often more self-abusive than functional, anyway.
Begin by finding a quiet spot. Give yourself permission to try something new. Forgive yourself for the times you didn’t know to separate intentions from expectations. You might even bless yourself for your courage, and openness to learning.
Step 1: Brainstorm Intended Outcomes
For example (using this blog):
- Readers are intrigued—what a cool idea; I can see them surprised and curious.
- As they explore, readers experience a sense of ease—I hear "Wow, this is different”; there’s a feeling of wonder and possibility. I can see them relax.
- I feel pride and gratitude around the feedback I get—emails, notes on the blog. In addition to liking the ideas, a few readers tell me that applying this idea enabled them to clarify what was really important, be more playful in the pursuit, and actually get great results.
Your picture will be more powerful if it is visceral and emotional. That’s sound motivation--e.g., hypnosis, Silva Method use this tool as the bedrock for generating results. It seems the more energy and feeling we put into our requests to the universe, the more likely it is to respond positively.
Step 2: Set a Highly Doable Threshold for "Good Enough"
Label a second blank sheet “Good Enough.” These are not your dreams. Rather, this an extremely likely (80+%) level of performance that’s enough to advance you to the next stage—as in, surviving the battle; not yet winning the war. This list is not the results you aspire to —that was in step 1. If the results are worse than this “good enough” level, you’d think twice about undertaking this venture. Include both an external dimension, and an internal dimension (one about you).
For example (using this blog):
- External 80%-likely result: This blog at least equals, in opens, click-throughs, and unsubscribes the second-best result of my last ten blogs.
- Internal 80%-likely result: I feel good about having advanced and articulated this idea—and it helped me move my book, The Perfection of Good Enough along. If someone identifies a flaw or oversight, I embrace that as part of the learning process.
For more theory and examples, see my blog Power Tool #1, Definition of Victory. Used regularly, this tool helps people clarify what needs to happen, and avoid setting expectations that are unlikely to be met.
What About New Year's Resolutions?
Don’t bring any tired, old detritus into the New Year. Toss it out!
Try something different. Play with your intentions for 2020, and dream big infused with the energy of what the outcomes will feel like, sound like, and look like.
Then, set those dreams aside and look at the opposite end of the spectrum. What’s a “good enough,” 80%-likely result that demonstrates forward progress?
Click this link for a pre-printed worksheet for this process, my year-end gift to you. I've had a few people print this out, and not only use for themselves, but complete with their partners around relationship intentions, too.
Happy Holidays, and best for 2020 and beyond!