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September 15, 2017

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com
Twitter: @xdrtxrdt

I wrote the title for this post in a very agitated state of mind. My agitation was entirely brought on by the prospect of having my expectations dashed.

Expectations are necessary to set boundaries on what is to be completed. This is the mindset of a lower-level employee. They need greater guidance and clearer objectives to orient their daily work. Higher-level employees function more in terms of processes. They seek to develop an organization with certain characteristics by enforcing certain behavioral patterns and social norms. Certainly, they have goals to achieve as well, but the goal tends to be further off and phrased more as a vision.

The problem with expectations and goal-setting as your primary motivator is that you are enforcing an emotional rollercoaster upon yourself. You feel great when you achieve your goals, but you fall into a depressive lull now that you don’t have something else to do. You have to come up with another target to achieve. You feel terrible when you don’t achieve your goals, and the good feelings that come when you finally do achieve them (if you haven’t already given up) are diminished by the initial failure. This is why most people fail to achieve long-term behavioral changes. They are able to get to the level they desire (for example, losing X pounds or saving X dollars for retirement), but they are unable to create habits that will maintain or improve upon this level. They no longer have a distinct goal to reach for, because now the new objective is based in a process (for example, maintaining Y weight, adding Y dollars to your retirement account every paycheck).

The process is sometimes just developing good habits. You rewire your brain to associate pleasure with your new lifestyle choices, and slowly build your preferences. The greatest achievements are largely the result of persistence and process. Work on your projects and your skills every day, and you will, over time, get better at them. It’s just that simple.

The emotional rollercoaster associated with expectations has so far been disastrous for me. I anchor way too heavily on expectations, becoming uncontrollably angry and impatient when the possibility of failing to meet my expectations is raised. This is partly because I expect the world to work the way I want. I am petty and petulant, and I can’t bear to think that I don’t have enough money, power, or reputation to get things exactly to my specifications. All of these expectations are stupid, like my gripes with ridesharing. (I’m not giving up on the dream of car ownership, though.) I must thank everybody in my life for having put up with my ridiculous attitude and arrogance and outbursts. Slowly, but surely, I am maturing and chipping away at the edifice of my ego.

This post was partially inspired by this Farnam Street post on Amateurs and Professionals:https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/08/amateurs-professionals/

Below are a series of posts regarding the power of FAGA (FB, Apple, GOOG, AMZN). The conclusions drawn are scary, and I mostly feel helpless, like “How can I survive without using Google or FB?”. But these thoughts are just the beginning of a revolution that some hope will be resolved with the decentralized future blockchain promises. I hope you enjoy the links.

Leave comments on this page or send me an email with your thoughts.