At Accountable in Action, we’re all about supporting you in achieving your goals. Whether you’re aiming for a promotion or trying to save money for a new car, setting your sights on something and crafting a path toward achieving it is paramount to your success. And our Accountability Allies can help you along the way.
But when you set your goal, do you actually expect yourself to reach it? “Well, of course,” you might say. “Why else would I make it?”
No, really. Do you really expect to accomplish it?
“Yes! Well, I think so. I hope so…”
Setting a goal and creating a path to accomplishing it is only as good as your expectation of actually achieving. A goal is something we set our sights toward. A landmark. A star to reach for. An expectation, conversely, is something that we demand of ourselves. It’s something we know we are, or will be, capable of achieving. Understanding the difference between goals and expectations can mean the difference between success and falling just short.
Here’s how: Say you expect yourself to do well giving a presentation. Having that expectation influences how you approach it. For example, you might take the extra time to practice to ensure you’re on target with your words, or you might challenge yourself when they think you are performing below your potential. As a result, this impacts your rate of learning and even your subsequent presentation skills. It all comes full circle when those expectations of being a good presenter are reinforced based on your success when rising to the level of potential that you expected.
Confused yet? Here’s the take home message: The funny thing about expectations is that not only do they predict behavior, they ultimately create the behaviors needed to meet those expectations.
When you expect something of yourself, you act differently compared to when you hope something happens. Your self-talk is different, your interactions with others are different, and your behaviors are different. You behave in ways that indicate you are capable of meeting those expectations, ultimately making you more likely to actually meet them. Here are some ways that you can work on solidifying those expectations:
Visualize past successes.
Think back to a moment when you were really successful. It can be anything from writing a paper, giving a presentation, or having a killer meeting at work. Try and remember all of the details of that event – what the room looked like, what you were wearing, how hot or cold the temperature felt. Try to tap into what emotions you experienced, too. Reliving successful experience can help provide the confidence you need to find success in the challenges ahead.
Talk the talk.
Your brain can’t always tell the difference between what you’re telling yourself is true and what actually might be true right now. So, talk to yourself as if accomplishing your goals is expected. Use words like “when I nail that presentation,” or “I will articulate my thoughts well.” Avoid words like don’t, can’t, or might.
Surround yourself with the right people.
Having a network of people around you that believe in your and express to you that they are confident you will succeed is like gold. It reinforces the expectations you’ve created for yourself and provides a healthy environment for those self-fulfilling behaviors to flourish.
When you set your goals, do so with intention, with purpose, and with the full expectation that you can and will accomplish them. But when you do accomplish them, you won’t be surprised. You will have expected it.