Adjust Your Expectations.


I think this is SUCH an important message to pass onto our youngsters – they only see finished, perfect artefacts around them, which often makes them afraid to try when they see their own shaky efforts… But if they don’t try, they don’t learn.

quickmeups - short uplifting messages.

We’re taught to try our hardest to expect the best. Give it your all and great things will come your way. We love stories of triumph and succeeding against the odds. We love the stories of sports star that came from nothing, and young singers with no formal teaching who becomes famous in front of our eyes.

We see it so often that it becomes normal. If they can do it, we all should, and we expect the same. The problem is, if every time we touch a basketball we expect to make every shot and be the best… we probably won’t be very content after the game.

If every time you pick up a guitar you expect to write a chart-topping hit song, you’ll probably end up disappointed.

While it’s important to dream, to set goals, and to strive to be our best, it’s also important to Adjust Your Expectations.

Inspirational smile from an older woman working in the streets in India. An older woman…

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7 responses »

  1. I think there are two sorts of expectation – the one others have of you and which can encourage or limit your efforts, and the one I would translate as ambition. I recall assessing adults with learning disability using a test called the Draw a House test and which gave rise to an approximate developmental age. More often than not, the person would produce and proudly hand over a very primitive representation which put them flat out at the bottom of the scale. But after a few, I began to wonder if anyone had ever suggested they could do it better; that as it was, it wasn’t good enough? Was ambition being stifled by low expectation? Ambition, I think, is a thing that stretches talent and skill and it isn’t that other sort of expectation that comes in more like entitlement. That looks a lot like the instant-fame/anyone-can-do-it mindset that somehow still sees itself as ‘exceptional’ and misses the twin points about the nature of excellence and effort.

    • You’ve raised some very interesting points, Suzanne. As a teacher I became increasingly concerned with a group of children who were compromising their learning because they were afraid to try. They didn’t want their writing to be messy – so they wrote nothing. They wanted their art to be photograph-perfect, and when that didn’t happen immediately, they refused to draw… It’s a common problem in a modern classroom. I think it’s because they never see ‘work in progress’ anymore. Toys, clothes, furniture, ornaments etc are all produced in a factory, often by machines, so they don’t get a chance to see handmade artefacts that take time and trouble to get right – and sometimes go wrong, anyway… These children are often intelligent and set themselves unrealistic standards – and don’t understand that in order to learn they have to make mistakes. And you’re right – it can flip into entitlement, because often if this expectation of always immediately getting it right isn’t thoroughly challenged and corrected early on, you have a generation of under-achievers who consistently duck any responsibility…

      • I’d forgotten how often I saw my dad making things – shelves, cupboards, karts for tanking down the lane on. Not to mention fixing up old cars (they were all old back in the day!) with string, spanners, and bits of silver paper. I saw things evolving, breaking, being fixed and being out right – or right enough for the purpose. And you’re right, children rarely see that now. Bet they don’t use old curtains and cut up table cloths for dressing up either, too easy to buy a fairy outfit. Those things take the heat out of perfection and make the making what it’s about.

    • Absolutely! Your experiences mirror my own – and as you say, something that doesn’t happen these days. Apart from the fact that it is CHEAPER these days to buy the fairy costume, it takes TIME to make and these days, parents are often time-poor…

  2. Brilliant post! Forgive me, I’m catching up on all these wonderful blog posts at once, but this is particularly fabulous and so so true. I’m all for encouraging children and inspiring them to achieve their goals and pursue their dreams, but we also need to teach them reality too. That we don’t always get what we wish for, in fact, that wishes coming true is as rare and fleeting as shooting stars. This post reminded me of probably the wisest woman I have ever known (not that I knew her personally, though I FELT like I did), the profoundly talented, Maya Angelou. Her wonderful, wonderful book ‘Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now’ (for me a far better and more satisfying read than her more famous tomes) is filled with sage advice and life lessons like this. To say it changed my life and the life of my mum, would be an understatement. I HIGHLY recommend reading it if you haven’t already. You will find it full of little gems to ease our path through life, to bring us clarity, calm or some measure of understanding. Brilliant stuff, as is this post! 😀

  3. Thank you for commenting, Sophie. I thought it was a great post, too – hence the reblog. In amongst all the inspirational comments that can at times come across as a little too pat, there also needs to be a reminder that along with the WISHING must also come the necessary donkeywork – and even then there are no guarantees of success… The Maya Angelou book isn’t one I know – but certainly sounds like something I need to get hold of! Many thanks for the recommendation, good job that Christmas is just around the corner:)

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