Reframe expectations to get unstuck
My editor emailed letting me know he won’t be able to meet the original schedule. My “Stretch for Change” book launch will be delayed.
I got upset when I started reading his email.
Until I got to the part where my editor explained the why: his brother got really sick. He had to fly out of state to take care of him. I still felt uneasy but I could immediately connect with his pain.
“The world won’t stop if my book publication date gets delayed. Take care of your family, that’s the most important thing.” — I emailed back.
Drinking My Own Kool Aid
“Don’t struggle so much, the best things happen when not expected.” — Gabriel García Márquez
How many times do we get mad when things don’t go our way?
And that’s because we believe that the world revolves around us. That everything in our life is so important that we deserve better.
I would be lying if I said that the delay didn’t affect me. I felt bad. But the reason behind it provided me with perspective. Books come and go. But a family member’s health, that’s a real priority.
It was also a nice test for my approach to change.
That’s precisely what my book is all about: how to improve our change fitness. Simply put, how can we become more adaptive instead of reacting to change.
Unexpected events happen all the time but if our minds are busy with expectations, we are not able to accept reality. And act upon, rather than continue to live in a fantasy (how we wish things should be).
When things don’t go our (expected) way, that’s when our true beliefs are put to test.
Why We Hate When Plans Change
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” — John Lennon
To plan ahead is a way to control reality.
We feel safe when everything is under our control. Establishing clear next steps, assigning responsibilities or defining milestones and dates. These planning tools make us feel more productive. Like we are managing time and resources –and expectations- the proper way.
But when things don’t go as planned, our productivity goes to hell.
I see this all the time, especially in the workplace.
We are not prepared to adapt, to adjust, to course correct. We resist that. Especially those in charge. They don’t want to take a no for an answer. Everything seems like an excuse. Even the most robust reason. Some actually feel paranoid about it. Like if the unexpected events are created to hurt them personally.
Once again, that’s because they feel the world revolves around them.
These are some of the most commons reasons why we hate when plans change:
– Our egos get hurt when we realize that the world moves on regardless
– We don’t like to be proven wrong (ie: someone anticipated that our deadline was crazy)
– We realize that all the energy we put to get to certain point might be meaningless now that other pieces might fall apart.
– Having to tell our bosses that they won’t get what they wanted, when they wanted, makes most people scared.
– We love rehashing sad experiences even though it makes us stuck.
– When our expectations are not met, we feel that the new scenario will require more effort.
But, the most important reason is that we have a hard time accepting reality.
Or, better indeed, we are not good at reframing our expectations.
We are OK with spending time “complaining”. But we avoid using that energy to rewire our brains, to adjust to reality.
Reframe Your Expectations
“Can’t lose what you never had, can’t keep what’s not yours, and can’t hold on to something that does not want to stay.” — Unknown
As I wrote here, reframing a problem is a very effective way to find a solution. In this case, by reframing our expectations we can take full advantage of the unexpected rather than getting stuck.
Here are some approaches you can use to reframe your expectations.
1. Turn unexpected events into an opportunity: What other things can you do now that you have the time? Reframe the problem. Instead of thinking of it as delay, realize that you are getting extra time. Use it on your favor. Use it wisely. By “receiving” an extra week, I realized I had more time for other aspects of the book like getting more blurbs for the back cover or polishing some of the marketing materials.
2. Be more mindful: what’s the real impact? Unexpected events change our perception, not necessarily our reality. As I said before, the world won’t stop because my book publication got delayed. I will never know for sure what the real impact would be. The only reality I can live is the one that exists. The reality didn’t change, it’s our “anticipated reality” that never happened.
3. Find the hidden reason: Everything happens for a reason. Or there’s a reason behind everything that happens. Learn to look beyond your initial frustration. What’s the message? What can you learn about yourself? Launching my book means a lot to me. I’m operating under the belief that it will help spread the approach we use at Liberationist. Maybe I’m trying to accelerate things in the form of expectations.
4. New reality, new possibilities: When we fight reality, our perception gets stuck. We get blinded by what we didn’t get instead of observing new possibilities that are just in front of us. Unexpectedly, a former editor has offer me the gift of reviewing my edited manuscript and providing extra input. Having an extra set of eyes will make my book even better now.
5. Revisit your expectations. Were they unrealistic? Were you trying to be too ambitious? Do you tend to anticipate events before they happen? Most of the editing process has been very smooth until this incident. I was getting used to the rhythm until it got delayed. It wasn’t just the delay that affected me but how it disrupted a pattern.
Small life events put our beliefs and behaviors to test. Especially on how we deal with the unexpected.
Luckily, my book will be published soon. It has been a joyful process. One of learning about publishing as well as self-discovery.
If you want to learn more about “Stretch for Change”, the book, please sign up here: http://stretchforchange.com/
Before You Go
Turn adaptability into a competitive advantage: Check our upcoming “Thrive in the Unexpected” workshop.