Managing Expectations and Shifting Your Mindset

Managing Expectations and Shifting Your Mindset

I recently came across a note that I had written to myself at the end of 2018 after meeting with a prospective client.

The individual mentioned how they thought 2016 was the worst year ever until they went through 2017. Then they added a “but,” telling me that 2018 had actually turned out to be the worst year ever. They ended the conversation by telling me that 2019 would be a clean slate though, and, hopefully, a better year.

I didn’t engage with that prospective client, but I do hope that 2019 met their expectations. (I can only imagine how they felt about 2020!)

The Good and the Bad About Expectations

Expectations are wonderful tools. We can rally around them when we’re planning and executing. Yet when our expectations aren’t met, we often slide into a negative mindset. As humans, we are really poor at releasing the negative and envisioning a positive potential future. The dismay we feel when we have unmet expectations becomes compounded because we find it much easier to look outward than inward for reasons and answers.

Consider the individual that I told you about. We’d met at the end of the year, and they’d already begun looking forward to the next year. They had fixed an expectation about their current reality and developed a new set of expectations, informed by their recent past, for the coming year. Their mindset was based on their past experiences coloring their future.

Four Components for Internal Change

Frequently, the work that I do involves creating the conditions for meaningful change. This often involves providing perspective, offering expertise, asking tough questions, and connecting folks to critical resources they may not have known existed. The most meaningful work, however, is when I’m able to help someone change their mindset.

I’ve learned there are four components critical to internal change.

  1. Mindset. The frame of mind that you hold – including your beliefs, values, and expectations.
  2. Action. The tasks, actions, and “things” that you do.
  3. Habit. Tasks, actions, and “things” that must occur regularly or semi-regularly.
  4. Result. The outcome of your mindset, actions, and habits.

Here’s a quick grid to help you work through and apply these four components. (Farther down in this article, I have a completed grid to serve as an example of how one might look like when it’s done.)

Stage Description

The order in which you tackle the items in this grid may be different from how other people decide to address them. So, my first suggestion is to identify your starting point. Since most people start with Action, that’s where I began in the below hypothetical example of what a completed grid might look like. (“Result” is also often a popular choice for where to begin.)

Regardless of the order in which you slay these, here’s what to keep in mind as you work on them.

  1. What Action Do You Want to Make?

Our example below uses something that’s probably a ubiquitous objective for a lot of people these days, “I’d like to start working out.” Essentially, Action involves identifying what you want to do.

  1. Identify the Result You Desire

Very few people want to take action for the action’s sake alone. What is the result you desire? Asked another way, “What do you want to achieve?” In our example below, the desired result is “I would like to achieve total body fitness.”

  1. Identify Your Current Mindset

There’s currently something standing between you and your desired result. What is it? Ask yourself questions like “What is preventing me from taking action to achieve my desired result?” or “What are my current beliefs about the result I desire?” Ideally, this will lead you to an understanding of your current mindset and what needs to change. We’ll keep it simple in our example by writing the current mindset as “I don’t like working out even though it’s necessary.” This might seem basic, but many folks carry baggage with them about exercise.

  1. Identify Your Habits

Revisit the action you want to take and consider the following questions:

  1. “What action or actions must I take to achieve my desired result?”
  2. “Which of these actions must only be taken once?”
  3. “Which actions must be repeated?”
  4. “How frequently must they be prepared and for how long?” (e.g., one month, one year, forever?)

Any actions you must take more than twice are habits. Within our exercise example, these habits must be scheduled.

Our completed example grid:

Stage Description
Mindset I don’t like working out even though it’s necessary.
Action I’d like to work out.
Habit Exercise daily for 30 minutes.
Result Achieve total body fitness.

What’s Next? Change Your Mindset!

In our example, there is a disconnect between Mindset and the desired Action, Habit, and Result. This is where the real work begins. Once you’ve identified your current mindset and recognized that it will not get you across the finish line, the next step is to work on changing that mindset to one that will.

To find the proper mindset, ask yourself questions like, “If my current mindset will not work, what mindset might work?” You may have to play around with crafting a new Mindset statement that will achieve your desired Result. For the purposes of our hypothetical, let’s say that a new, revised Mindset statement might sound like this: “Exercise clarifies my mind and shapes my body.”

Revised Mindset statements are difficult to create, and you may need help from a friend, coach, or accountability partner when crafting the ideal one. Remember, though, that when you’re driving change, mindset is everything.

Interested in working through your mindset challenges? I’m happy to help. Drop me a line, and we’ll talk!

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