Plans and Expectations

Calendar photo by Brandon Redfern

Plans and goals–they sound like such good things. Dreams and deadlines mean something has to happen. It tells a story of progress and forward motion toward (hopefully) all of the right things. It is refusing to stand idle while life threatens to pass you by.

But is that all? Is it only the promise of good that can come from such hopes and aspirations?

What about the bitter disappointment that comes when things don’t go “as planned” in life? Or the fits we throw when someone doesn’t live up to our expectations? We lose trust and hold a grudge when things don’t look the way we envisioned, because that’s only fair. This was not what we had in mind, therefore it is practically our right to let the world know.

Honestly, you and I, we are allowed to be disappointed. I will never be the person that says you should only be happy or at least attempting happiness in every moment of life. Emotions come in a wide range and part of life is allowing ourselves to experience the many joys and frustrations that a range of emotions can bring. Go ahead and feel down when you’re sad, elated when you’re happy, conflicted when you’re confused or overwhelmed. This not only makes us human, it also allows us to cope with our situation and better empathize with others.

That said, sometimes I think we set ourselves up for disappointment when we don’t have to. 

We put these high expectations on ourselves to be something and achieve something. Then we go around putting these expectations on the people around us. We make plans as if that will lock in the things we want and then pay no regard to the fact that we only have the slightest bit of control over it. If it’s in the calendar, then it’s bound to happen, right?

Right now, I have no interest in making any plans more than a few weeks away. There’s so much that can happen in a month, three months, eight months, a year. The farther ahead we plan, the farther it feels from something I can count on. I would not be planning based on reality, but on pure speculation and therefore creating more expectations to uphold. Life has too many variables and the vast majority of them are well outside of our control. 

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, much less a month from now. Tragedy could strike, opportunity could knock, the unexpected could happen. Health-related, weather-related, people-related, work-related, government-related–which of those things can you reasonably control? Sure, you can exercise, bring an umbrella, invest in the lives of others, work hard, vote, and whatever else to contribute to the overall impact (and you should), but don’t fool yourself into believing you’ve therefore earned it and can will things to happen the way you want.

Let’s instead put our hope in the right things. Let’s give grace when expectations aren’t met and think more realistically when it comes to our dreams and deadlines. Let’s be cautious to make plans and realize when we are forming absolutes in our minds. Let’s do our best, but know that most things are beyond our control and therefore let go of our reliance on our own expectations.

Let’s give the same grace and space for in our own lives as we do in the lives of others.

 

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