We all know the potential trouble associated with expectations:
If you expect something to turn out a certain way — and it doesn’t — you likely end up disappointed.
Subsequently, traditional wisdom has advised that we let go of our expectations to soften the blow of disappointment and train ourselves to be content with the outcome we get.
Even though I hold that outlook to be true most of the time, I wanted to explore how we could use expectations to our advantage in certain situations, rather than try to (unsuccessfully) forget about them.
If you struggle with letting go of expectations for your business, I have three steps you can follow to put them to work in your marketing instead.
Step #1: Get clear about what you want
During this step, you examine each expectation you have and turn it into a goal.
- Do you want 1,000 subscribers? 10,000? 100,000?
- Do you want to be recognized as a content marketer who drives business results?
- Do you want to be booked solid with writing clients?
When you don’t deny or downplay what you hope for, you’re free to get specific about what you want. Those specific details can then help you uncover and perform the work you need to do.
Step #2: Assess your current routines
This step can be tricky because it requires a critical evaluation of your current work routines to see if they support your goals.
- Do you have time set aside for creative work?
- Are you willing to write like a million people read your words, even if only one person actually does?
- Do you have a terms of service and payment policy that respects both your clients and your own business?
You want to be open to different options you may have not considered before.
A topic I find fascinating is the difference between people who work hard and meet their goals and people who work equally hard but don’t experience the type of success they want.
If both types of people work hard, why don’t they both see satisfying results?
My hypothesis is that people who succeed are more flexible and acknowledge when something isn’t working for them. They reassess their methods in a timely manner and move toward a similar goal that may be easier.
They keep setting and meeting new goals … until they eventually reach the one they originally wanted or achieve something even better.
The work they perform every time they adjust their focus moves them closer to that initial expectation they hoped for.
On the other hand, people who work hard but don’t meet their goals may get stuck working hard on the wrong things and ignore their great potential in other areas.
Step #3: Align your actions with your goals
Let’s go back to the expectations that helped you set your goals.
Rather than strive to have something you don’t currently have, commit to working like your expectation is already a reality.
- Don’t save your best ideas; write as if you already have all the subscribers you want.
- Learn the skills that enable a profitable writing career.
- Know who your ideal clients or customers are and create your content marketing strategy to attract them.
When you create your next piece of content, ask yourself:
- What is one thing my ideal clients and customers need help with?
- What information will help them?
- What is the best way to deliver that content?
The idea is to shift from focusing on what you don’t have (yet) to putting out meaningful work into the world.
You get to where you want to go by helping other people get to where they want to go.
Channel your expectations into smart work
You have to create content on a professional website as if you already have the audience you want to engage — it’s how to attract the right people to your business over time.
This perspective on how to use your expectations could be summed up with the widely known phrase: “Fake it ’til you make it.”
I find that saying a little trite, but it’s essentially the mindset I’m talking about. 😉
It may not be as concise, but let’s refer to it as:
Your expectations can drive excellent work and direct you to your next milestone as you move closer to your ultimate goals.