As humans, we are generally pretty bad at expectation management. We tend to overestimate length of time required to accomplish something, but underestimate the potential impact of said thing.
While it may seem like such a petty hypothesis, it actually means a ton. To me, one of the main reasons that people fall short or do not get to their goals is simply because of bad expectations.
So I thought a bit more about this subject and here are some expanded thoughts I had. The first thing I was particularly interested in is why does this happen. Why are we so bad at setting reasonable goals / estimations?
I attribute it to two things: instinct and environment.
Instinct - From a biological perspective, it feels like humans want things quickly. We have an instinctual desire to satiate our needs quickly. This makes sense. But it also skews our viewpoint.
Environment - To me, this is the biggest influence for this "expectation problem." The media, our surroundings, etc. explicitly as well as implicitly tell us that success is not only achievable but achievable quickly. Movies show the entrepreneur building the big business. TechCrunch shares the story of the teenage entrepreneur who stayed up late one night and started his company.
We tend to celebrate success. We rarely celebrate "the grind."
Because of this - we underestimate what it takes to really get to success.
We never hear about the CEO who spent his first 3 months responding to emails. Responding to emails is the ugly part of business. You will not learn how to do that in a classroom.
But hell, it is super important. And a necessary part of growing something huge.
Anyways, back to my point in that our environment gives us this false sense of hope with our expectations.
I think we expect things to go well, we expect things to go to plan and to work out - but they never do. That is reality. And merely changing our viewpoint from day 1, rather than midway through our project, can dramatically change how we approach what we do.
Which leads me to my second thought about this whole expectation thing - it's that we should be optimizing for the long run by doing small things in the short run.
We have to take "baby steps." But in this case, we have to continue to take tiny steps over a long period of time. I am not talking days, weeks, this may take months maybe years. For some people, this takes decades to work.
What am I talking about?
The easy example for me is writing. I did not write 400 blog posts. I wrote 1 blog post every day for 400 days.
For the first 200 - nothing happened. But shit came together because I kept with it. You can apply this same concept to so many different things. Easy examples are things like the gym. You will not see results day 1. You probably will not see results for 3 months. It takes time to develop.
It is hard.
Really fucking hard.
Once we come to this fundamental understanding, we can think about setting up processes/systems that optimize for the long run by building in tiny things that we can do in the short run.
So now I think...what can I do today, and tomorrow, etc. that does not take that much time but in the long run, will bring me results. I think the first place to really start would be to think about what exactly I want to accomplish.
I have many goals. We all should. So how can I set up a system, perhaps one that is even automated, that I can sustainably execute over a long period of time.
Writing is one system. I have got that locked down. The gym is something I am trying to do. It is really hard.
I have thought about a few new ideas:
- Answering Quora questions everyday: doing this would not only fulfill my desire to accomplish something every day. It would also help me provide value for more people. It would allow me to explore new types of questions. It would give me more content out there. And it would help me grow my personal brand.
- Podcast; I could record myself speaking for 5 minutes on a number of different subjects.
- Drawing: I could learn to draw and challenge myself in a whole new way.
There are so many directions to go - I think it is important to do something.
We often wait for perfect when in reality we just need to start!
Perfect does not exist. Just start.