What is an unrealistic expectation anyway? Unrealistic is an adjective describing expectations as not realistic or inappropriate to reality or a fact. In other words it is something that you should not necessarily be able to attain to begin with. Expectations are the act or state of anticipation of something in the future. It is the probability an event that will occur at some point. It is assumable that general expectations will become a reality. When we look at the two words used together, it means that it is inappropriate to ever think that this task can be performed.
As a young man I could grip the front bumper of Volkswagen car and lift the front end off the ground about six inches. Fifty years later, a realistic expectation might be to firmly grip the bumper. As for lifting the front end of a Volkswagen today, that is totally unrealistic. I would even go so far as to say that it is impossible for me to perform such a task.
We perform many tasks without evaluating the difficulty and to some degree never consider the task as realistic or unrealistic. As an example let’s say that I am averaging closing one sales transaction each week. Suddenly I get distracted by attending a few training classes and my closed transactions fall way behind. In order to catch up and still be able to reach my annual goal for this year, I need to close two transactions each week for the next three months. Are my expectations realistic or unrealistic? I would say it is not impossible but it is improbably. Looking back at my history, I have never averaged closing two transactions a week for three consecutive months. Therefore, I would say this is an unrealistic expectation.
I see a lot of sales people set unrealistic expectation when they attend a sales meeting and the sales manager is attempting to set a very high sales goal for a specified time frame. The manager puts you in the spot light when he asks if you can close XXX number of transactions next months. To save the embarrassment of publically admitting you can’t do something, you accept the challenge even though you realize the tasks is unrealistic and almost know for certain that you’ll never put forth the necessary effort to attain such a high goal. Oh, it sounded good in that meeting but how will it sound next month when you are forced to report your total sales for the month. How will you feel when you show no increase in sales during that specific time? I can tell you because I have been there myself; you will feel humiliated, defeated, and in very low esteem.
How many unrealistic expectations do we have in a day, week, month or even a year? We are human. We make mistakes. We make many mistakes. This is the way we learn. We attempt to do things we’re unable to do. After a period of time our failures seem to grow exponentially until they mount up so large we feel like a total screw-up. After experiencing a few defeats, negativity begins to dominate our mental attitude and we no longer have a desire to excel, to try new things, or to attempt new techniques. In short we have no desire for excellence.
To overcome these obstacles one needs to accept the fact that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone faces trials and tribulations. The difference between people experiencing success or failure is their ability to address their adversities, learn from the experiences and move forward. If we will only share our experiences with others we may find that they have faced the same problem and they overcame it. We don’t think badly of that individual; rather we respect them for facing defeat, pulling up their boot straps and giving it another try from a different angle. Some defeats can be foregone if we’ll only be totally honest with ourselves as well as others. Had I explained to my sales manager that I had never closed that many transactions in that time frame and asked for their assistance, I would have won the respect of everyone in the meeting and I wouldn’t have an unrealistic expectation to worry about.
I don’t think it matters if we’re talking about unrealistic expectations, unreachable goals and some other type of failure that leaves us feeling defeated which lowers our confidence to an unacceptable level. What really matters is our mental attitude and how we spring back from undesirable outcomes. If we are filled with self-doubt, we will only see the negatives within ourselves. If we hold on to past failures and fears, we will accept our imperfections with fear. We can’t allow undesirable results to cause us to be depressed.
When we are depressed, nothing seems important to us. We lose interest in things we once loved and enjoyed. Depression is an ugly word and frightening experience. In attempting to avoid depression, many times we turn to food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or may be sleeping extremely long periods while making the excuse of feeling poorly. The state of depression is just as normal as the state of joy. We have to accept that everything is perfect all the time. We need to learn that imperfections are not disastrous. We need to realize that success is formed from the overcoming of many defeats.
Always remember, when bad things happen in our lives, replace the bad thoughts with good thoughts, positive thoughts. Only positive stimuli can replace negative stimuli in our brains and we are in total control of what is put into our minds.
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