What makes the difference between “I won’t be able to make it” and “I might have a chance at it”? A gap you can close once made aware it exists.
Stories about not pursued goals or dreams might be different but they all have these elements in common: You come across a piece in the media or someone that lets you see there’s a better future out there for you. You take this inspiration and somehow use it to set some high and unusual goal for you. One you believe will transform your life, if reached. “Oh! And I could do this, and this… or maybe that too!.” What comes to mind feels so good, so real then, that you somehow get a euphoric buzz from it. One that lasts until “How am I gonna make it?” or “How am I gonna get there?” cross your mind. Then doubts and self-critic start hitting you hard. Enough for self-deprecation or fear to start crushing whatever hope grew out of this “glimpse of a possible better future” you first came across. Think of “I won’t be able to make it… because I don’t have what it takes for it”
What hurts the most in all this isn’t the roller coaster ride that “inspiration” and “hope” take you on to, in such cases. It’s the gap between where your expectations rose up to and the reality; your reality. One that now feels worse than before.
The psychological war with ourselves changes when we start to close the dire-gap. When we actually lower our expectations – not the goal – and bring them closer to our reality. That is, closer to our level expertise in the field (or industry) our goal is set in, closer to our skills set and our level of self-confidence, for instance. Not to diminish what we have or who we are. Simply for having the opportunity to re-raise these expectations along the progress we make in improving the skills and piling up the small victories (or completed steps) we need to ultimately achieve our initial goal.
Interestingly, once people lower their expectations, how they talk about the possibility of reaching their goal starts to change too. They don’t say “I won’t be able to make it” so much anymore. They’re more into telling themselves and others “I might have a chance at it”.
The nuance might seem subtle but the mind shift it involves is essential. As it’s actually what makes the difference between you being able to achieve a goal or not. All because of a gap you can close, once you’re aware it exists. As how can anyone reach (if not surpass) a goal if, right from the start, she believes she has no chance at making it?
When was the last time you believe that “lowering my expectations” could have been very useful to you?
P.S. Here a diagram to let you the gap between “expectations” and “reality”
– – – –
Photo credits: Craig Hannah
– – – –