Releasing Expectations, Redefining Success

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Speed Bump Ahead

What happens to your thoughts when everything seems to be running against you?  Responsibilities pile up, obstacles arise, and your current plans are blown out of the water; what do you do?  For most, the easiest thing to do is get flustered, frustrated, and pitter-patter around (let’s not forget complaining!). Yet, this only leads to a vicious and unproductive cycle that harms us even more.  How can we prevent ourselves from adopting this self-defeating attitude?

The incredibly simplified answer: Destroy the current image of your desired outcomes, and make a new one. The most important thing to remember for today is this:

On the road to success, unforeseen obstacles may slow you down.  Do not turn speed bumps into roadblocks.  Reroute and continue on.

Let’s use my weekend as an example. This weekend I completely and utterly failed to reach the original goals and objectives (desired outcomes) I set for myself. It wasn’t from lack of trying, lack of motivation, or laziness. As it turned out, my success was dependent on my ability to be productive using a lovely piece of machinery while traveling: my laptop.

Waiting for my flight, I decided to use the spare minutes to prepare a working outline. Upon starting my computer, it prompted for a simple computer restart. What the computer failed to mention, was that it had no intention of starting up again (thank you AVG Virus Software). Without even an FYI or suicide note expressing its frustrations with how poorly I’ve treated it over the years.

I was in shock. First emotional reactions included questions like, “why me?” and “why now?”. Perhaps I should have informed my little portable friend that I would be out of town for a few days and wouldn’t be able to repair him until after I arrived home. I guess he’ll enjoy his little vacation as I start preoccupying myself about where and how my projects will get completed.

Usually when I have these uncomfortable feelings or tensions, it is a trigger to myself that this is an opportunity to learn something new and to condition my desired response (rather than reacting impulsively). It’s very difficult to change an emotion on the spot, but we can attempt to positively affect our future emotional response by properly dealing with the situation now. If similar problems occur in the future, we are better emotionally equipped to handle the problem. We wouldn’t learn much if life gave us roses all the time.

After the initial moments of frustration, I decided I should probably start practicing what I preach. Breaking it down, I went through this mental transition:

  • I decided to stop being the victim (The Joys of Being the Victim) – By not focusing on the problem itself, I was able to open my mind to solving the problem and I was not blocked by just worrying and complaining about it.
  • I released my desired outcome – I knew today I would not be as productive as I’d hoped, but that didn’t stop me from moving forward.
  • I created a new desired outcome – I had to change my desired outcome for the day, but my desired outcome for the weekend changed very little. I decided to focus on all my ‘Have-Tos’ and forget the extras I hoped to complete. What changed more were…
  • I made new plans – I stopped focusing on my woes and worries, and started focusing on what to do now with these new situational parameters. I understood the new dynamic of my situation, and only then could I respond to it. My laptop was no longer a viable option for work and moving past the frustration and shock of this allowed me to create a new plan for being successful this weekend.

It can be the biggest step moving away from those initial emotions of frustration and helplessness, but when set aside, you can more effectively plan your Plan B (or escape route). My Plan B turned out to involve pen and paper, libraries and friends’ laptops!

The new positive outcome stemming from this situation: this article.

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at)!

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