When I was young (meaning, up until about five years ago), I expected success. Everything I did, I expected to succeed. And I did! I did well in school, I got into a good college (even though I ultimately didn’t go there), I got into a good law school, I got a good job. In truth, I had failures throughout that time, too. I didn’t get into the best college I applied to, nor did I get into the best law school I applied to. I didn’t get interviews at all of the firms that I wanted. But I never looked at those things as failures. I took them in stride and looked at what I got as the success that I had been expecting. And success just kept coming.
Then, suddenly, I became very afraid of failure. I became afraid of failing at my job, and ultimately I wasn’t cut out for it. (Not that I really wanted to be…) I’m afraid of failing at writing and I start to have blocks. I start to expect that I will not succeed, but tell myself that at least it’s worth a shot. I tell myself that I won’t be too disappointed if I fail, and then I sit staring at the computer for days, unable to write. I begin, already, to fail.
But why? I’ve spent my life taking failure in stride and not even seeing it as failure. I’ve spent my life succeeding. Why do I need to talk myself into believing that I will succeed now?
In part, I think, it’s because of all the messages I keep getting from outside. When I was growing up, everyone expected me to succeed. So I took that and ran with it. And I succeeded. Now, though, people seem to expect me to fail. “Getting published is really hard. This industry is so messed up. Thousands of amazing authors never find success.” I hear those messages and I internalize them. I expect to fail and I begin to fail.
You know what? Not anymore! From now on, I’m going to expect success. Because I know that whatever happens I have the ability to view it as the success that I was expecting. I know that I am strong and capable and I don’t need to be coddled. I can do this. So there!
How do you manage expectations? Do you expect success?