Expectation vs. Reality — Avoiding Disappointment

March 25, 2023
I was on Shark Tank for my Alpha M. Style System. Fail. Then I went on Shark Tank again for Pete & Pedro — but they wanted Alpha M. Another failed expectation. Recently, I have faced some more adversity which got me thinking about how I handle disappointments & adversity versus how others handle the same type of failed expectations.

Have you ever been working hard at your job and climbing the corporate ladder, positioning yourself to take the job above you when it opens? Or perhaps you have been eyeing that sassy senorita in accounting for quite some time, wishing you had the courage to finally as her out on a date. Or perhaps studying your ass off for a test, being super prepared for it? But when the day finally comes, you’re greeted with disappointment.

You’re smacked with that feeling of displeasure caused by the unfulfilled hopes and expectations. But the biggest disappointments that I’ve had resulted from things I’ve worked really hard for. The harder you work, the more disappointing it is when something doesn’t go right. If you’re not struggling and getting disappointed occasionally, you’re not pushing your limits.

Change your definition of success. Don’t define it based on what you can’t control. Define your successes by the actions you take, not the outcome of those actions.

Disappointment comes from expectation; no disappointment occurs without expectation. Remember that expectations are about outcomes. Say, you want to ask this person out, and you want them to say yes. That is what an expectation is. It is an outcome of a prospect, hope, or anticipation.  Expectation is also about the future, so you cannot have expectations about the present.

To get past an expectation, focus on action – not outcome. Focus on doing rather than getting as you can’t stop your mind from doing something, but you can change your mind’s direction. Think about meditation; the goal is to clear your mind. You can’t tell your mind to be clear, but you can tell it to focus on something, which is where clarity comes in. To get away from expectation is to focus on action.

Failing is okay. It’s okay to take small actions, step by step while taking breaks. Focus on each small step and goal. When you add small acts done daily, they add up to something big. That is how you reverse failing, which is the stepping stone to success. If you do something for 1 hour daily over 24 months, that is a lot of work (and consistency). You will need that kind of determination to turn the tide from failure to success.

Expectation implies the assumption that a specific outcome will happen, but very few things (within reason) are absolute. So, make goals, and strive toward them, but never assume a specific outcome. Focus on what you can control and do your best within that framework to move toward the desired outcome.

Life has a funny way of closing doors to keep you moving in the right direction; pain is part of that growing process. Often society runs from pain and protects itself from feeling uncomfortable. This is why so many people abuse drugs and alcohol – not to feel the pain. Stop running from the pain, and don’t mask it. Embrace it as it’s natural and part of the growth process. Learn from it to move forward stronger, faster, and smarter.

The way I see it, there are two ways people handle adversity. The first way (which is pretty common, and I think that many people end up doing this because if they didn’t, there would be many more successful people out there) is regressing when a disappointing blow or setback is experienced. These folks throw their hands up in the air with the excuse that they really didn’t want it that bad. They just give up and do not try anymore.

The other way is taking disappointment and using it as a tool. These people choose to use adversity as a learning experience or lesson. I know it’s tough to think about the ‘silver lining’ when going through a disappointing or difficult time. “Where is it that damned silver lining everyone keeps talking about,” you’re thinking. Well, you may often have to look through several clouds to find that one silver lining.

Whatever the reason for your setback or failure — whenever you don’t achieve what you’ve worked tremendously hard for, regroup and assess for reasons. And for me, I know there has to be a way to achieve that something, so I keep working harder. Ultimately, it comes down to believing in yourself to find a better or alternative way to accomplish your goals. And you know what? Typically these disappointments, for me, have ultimately resulted in something better and more positive.

When you fail at something, that just means that you have eliminated one reason or a way to do things. As an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. His comments about these unsuccessful attempts? “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

I would say probably after 550 attempts, the majority of us would have given up. Not Edison! Not me! He kept pushing forward, and so did I. So, when you get dealt a disappointing blow, don’t blow it off like it’s nothing … because it isn’t ‘nothing.’ It hurts and sucks big time, but do not dwell on it too long. You can get caught up in your head, and that’s not a good place to be.

Uncover why you might not have succeeded and modify them into learning experiences to propel progress and push forward, so you will achieve your goals. Work smarter while working harder. Bad things happen, and you won’t always get what you want, but that’s okay. You move forward, work harder, and figure out a better way to do it.

Realize that it’s not the end of the world because disappointments happen — it’s a part of life. Disappointments are not meant to destroy you but to strengthen you. Never stop building toward your dreams. Should there be any disappointments along the way, use them for a sturdier foundation.

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