Turning Unfulfilled Expectations into Motivation

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on February 11, 2018

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

― Bruce Lee

A normal human phenomenon, “Expectations”. Even if one doesn’t want to, one still ends up expecting things. An expectation of happy ending in a movie, an expectation of high grades in exams, an expectation of getting married to a smart guy or a beautiful girl, an expectation of a good government, and the list goes on. But do all our expectations turn into a reality? Well, we all have our own share of experiences with our expectations. And most of the time, the expectations remain so. Expectations can motivate and give a sense of satisfaction to the individual when they are met. However, unfulfilled expectations lead to disappointment, demoralization, anger and what not.

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Ever wondered why do we get angry? It’s a feeling that triggers when we are frustrated, powerless, threatened or insecure. But what leads to these consequences? They are “Expectations”. We always have a habit of setting our own expectations of others. However, those expectations might differ from person to person. If the situation doesn’t turn out the way we expected, we get enraged. This is, perhaps, true in our daily lives. For instance, nobody told you to set high expectations from your subordinate of doing a particular project, or that your friend will turn up for the event. It was you who expected this. But what if the employee turns down the project, whom you trusted wholeheartedly, or your friend doesn’t show up for the event? You get infuriated. The relationship takes a different turn.

You expect your husband to be in time for the grand anniversary party hosted by you. However, due to other priorities at work, he turns up late. You expected to qualify a particular exam but you did not. You expected your organization valued your service but they did not. You expected your lady luck to accept your proposal but she friend-zoned you. All of these leads to disappointment. Disappointment as a result of your expectations.

If our expectation is not fulfilled, we have a common tendency to blame the situation or others. But the fact is we are responsible for our unfulfilled expectations which may have been too little or too much.

Unfulfilled expectation demoralizes us. One might even give up trying things. Unrealistic expectations have ruined relationships. Too much of expectation from your partner can also hurt a marriage.

Thus, expectations have been harming our mental soundness. Does that mean all expectations are so? Not really. Unfulfilled expectations, if taken optimistically, can motivate an individual to push back and try again the next time. The experience of falling back on an expectation not turning around the desired way would be no less than a learning to fight back. Set a threshold. Set your limits between what minimum will make you satisfied and what’s the best outcome possible.

So, what if your expectations are still not met? The limit of the threshold and your retaliatory actions when threshold is not met, is something to be thought on. Remember, your retaliatory actions have to be personal. Do not sit over and get stagnant. You are your best judge. Analyze and think over. Be realistic and move on. Or, turn your unfulfilled expectation to your motivation and keep pushing. With whatever you decide, may the force be with you!


This article has been authored by Sunakshi Charan Pahari from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai

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