Hey! I hope you’re having a great day today!
I’m an optimist. I usually tend to believe the best about a situation.
When I wake up in the morning I expect to have a good day. I expect people to be mostly fair and honest with me as I am fair and honest with them.
I expect there to be some positive outcome to every challenge, failure or setback. I expect to learn something from every situation and use those lessons to make better future decisions.
I also expect to be disappointed from time to time and to sometimes realize that my original expectations were not accurate and that I should adjust them in the future.
I have learned (out of necessity) to have a healthy relationship with expectation. So should you if you want to reach your goals, have inner peace and not be perpetually disappointed.
Expectation is what drives behavior. We only do things when we expect something desirable in return.
For instance, every month hundreds of people read my articles. If they didn’t expect that they would be interesting, useful and worth their time to read, they wouldn’t read them. This expectation was created by their past history of seeing and reading interesting things from me and because of that experience, they expect the next one to be just as interesting, so they read it.
Expectation also drives change. We only undergo a process of change if we believe that
A) change is possible
B) that we are physically, mentally and practically capable of making a change
C) that the process we will undertake to change will produce the change we desire
D) that the time, energy and money required to invest into the process will be worth the outcome
When we believe this, we have created an expectation which leads us to attempt to make the change.
Why do I bring all this up?
Well, in my line of work I manage expectations all day long.
When people come in to see me, they are looking for a change. They want to change how they feel, what they are physically able to do, and they want those changes to be dramatic and long lasting.
The difficulty with situations like these is to adequately express the physical realities of the situation without causing the person to lose hope.
Not everyone wants to hear that the process might initially take 3-6 months or longer. Not everyone wants to hear that there is a need for lifelong maintenance. Not everyone wants to hear that there is often a need to change habits and behaviors to ensure long term success.
These realities may not be congruent with their current expectations (which were often based on false information anyway) and because of that, they instead end up leaving to search for things that seem to fit within those expectations.
When this fails (which it almost always does) this often leads to a lifetime of disappointment and them eventually just saying “there’s nothing that can be done, I guess I have to just live with it.”
If they had adjusted their expectations to be congruent with reality in the first place, they could have avoided all of this.
So that you don’t make the same mistakes, I want to give you 3 keys to creating and maintaining the right expectations so that you have long term health success.
Here they are:
1. Learn everything you can about your body, particularly the area/s you are trying to improve.
I see this mistake all the time. People are so concerned about something in their body and they desperately want to change it. Maybe it’s their knee, their back, their heart or some other body part. Instead of trying to learn about this part of their body so they understand how it works, how it is designed, what it can and cannot do, etc. they instead focus simply on just trying to “fix” whatever the surface problem is (pain, injury, dysfunction, etc). This can put them in a perpetual state of disappointment because their lack of knowledge will often cause them to have expectations that are not grounded in reality and therefore they will always be searching for solutions to problems instead of simply learning how to improve and manage the health of their body and its parts.
2. Once you get the knowledge, focus on your own behaviors that lead to your body parts being healthy, not on just the end result you are looking for.
Imagine a competitive athlete who never focused on his training, his practice, his nutrition or his mental conditioning and instead just thought about and focused on playing in the championship game. How far do you think he would get? It’s the daily habits and sacrifices that lead to your success and there are no shortcuts. Focus on the 3-5 most important things to do each day/week and try to make those consistent practices.
3. When you reach the goal, don’t think the journey is over. In fact, it has just begun.
So your pain went down, your strength went up, you can do that thing you’ve been wanting to do again, so what? This is just a snapshot in time. If you quit the process that got you there, do not be surprised if you end up back where you started. The body is not a fixed object. It is a dynamically changing system that constantly adapts to what you do or don’t do to it. If you were doing something for a while that got you to where you wanted to be, it was only because your body changed in response to what you did. If you stop doing it, then your body will change again in the other direction. This is ALWAYS happening to your body every single day and it will not stop ever. It will always adapt to what you DO to it and it will lose the adaptations it gained when you stop doing something.
Put these 3 keys into practice as best you can.
Learn about your body. Read books, talk to experts and try to really understand the way your body works.
Keep your focus on what to do each day and each week and try to achieve those short term goals.
See your body as a changeable system that needs to continually be stimulated to move in a desired direction. Continue to provide that stimulation so that it keeps moving where you want it to go and doesn’t go backwards.
Doing this will help keep you from the false, unrealistic expectations that most people live under which ultimately lead to failure, disappointment and frustration.
Your friend on the journey,
Chris Vercelli MATm, RTS, CPT
Founder: Non-Fiction Fitness