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?
You may decide to write a content series that also educates them about your business or an ebook that becomes part of your business model.
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.
Reader Comments (14)
Amanda Maurer says
Thanks for the great post Stefanie.
It’s in our nature to create expectations of what we want to happen or think will happen. Not just in marketing, but through all areas of our lives – relationships, career paths, etc.
I love the point you made about being clear with what you want. Several of my clients contact us to help them grown their business, but they don’t really know exactly what they want. Do they want to grow their online presence? Get more in store foot traffic? Recruit more employees? Without knowing what your goals are how are you supposed to have the right expectations?
Thanks again for all the informative insights,
Stefanie Flaxman says
Exactly, Amanda! Those specific details help you find the right plan for your clients. 🙂
Sreejit Poole says
When I started this article I was like, what is this Bhagavad-gita class? As Krishna says in Chapter 2, “While contemplating on the objects of the senses, one develops attachment to them. Attachment leads to desire, and from desire arises anger.” When we don’t get what we want or expect we are bound to get upset. Glad to see that you are adding some spiritualesque elements to your marketing strategies! Actually, transparency with our own selves is one thing that we have to have if we are going after something and I think a lot of people, in feigning humility, hamper their success through lack of clarity and working for what they really want. All good points – nice article.
Sonia Simone says
Mindful nonattachment is, imo, always a good approach. 🙂
Stefanie Flaxman says
Always fun to hear different interpretations. 🙂
Manish Malhotra says
I completely agree with Sreejit, It just like Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta Gyan, But most importantly it’s bang-on and effective point. There is no alternate of hard work but in smarter way. every failure drag closer towards of your success.
Every person has unique USP, if we can find our that success will be at our door.
Thanks for the insightful information!
I agree that number 1 is the single most important step. If you haven’t clearly defined your goals, it’s impossible to know when and if you achieve them!
Andrea Hughes says
This was beyond helpful in shifting my perspective today… which was much needed. Thank you!
Expectations, as you have pointed out, can be useful, but only when they are aligned with reality. Before setting out what you expect from yourself, I think it would be useful to do a reality check about circumstances you are living in, talents you are gifted with, resources that are available to you, your past performance, and your willingness to fulfill your expectations.
If you do that first, only then will the steps mentioned in this article help you make your expectations serve you, rather than the other way around.
Just my two cents. 🙂
Shantanu Sinha says
Awesome post up here 🙂
Human beings are made up on expectations. Through every phase of live, we build it on our expectations and our emotions. But the harsh reality is that sometimes, we work on that expectations and drag it to our real life and sometimes we tend to
fear it and end in cutting it out.
Sometimes we dream big, its good to do that so, put we need to put ourself in the reality check, that are we going to make it. Its better to act smartly. Sometimes we should not go for building directly at the top. But we can start up by adding
a brick by brick structure.
Thanks for the share.
Thanks for an insightful post!
Very astute indeed as it recognizes that clarity about what you want, also leads to clarity about what you are currently doing, assessing current routines and making the necessary changes to finally aligning your action to your goals. Clarity and focus become paramount.
Also bringing back to the fundamentals of what works for success in business; the reason why you are in it but to help others. Reminding of the famous Zig Ziglar quote: You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.
This was just the kick I was looking for today. It’s so easy to fall into that overwhelmed by our own expectations place. I think I’m fairly good at helping others to find their way out but I’m rubbish at applying that advice to myself sometimes. So if you don’t mind I’m pinning some of your quotes to my ‘Inspiration & Reality Check for Writers’ board. Just got to remember to check it out now and again 😉
Stefanie Flaxman says
If only it was easier to take our own advice, right? 😉
Ryan Biddulph says
I dig these ideas Stefanie. Big fan of aligning actions with intents here, and of also writing like a gazillion folks are reading versus….well…more than 1 😉 It is an energy thing. Being the person who blogs for a worldwide platform even as you are working your way up. I place a heavy focus on giving, and not too much on getting, and even though I do have some expectations I tend to dissolve what I am wanting into what I am getting.
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