Speaking of Joy: Managing Expectations

Many years ago, when I was still living the single life, a friend announced that he would no longer be joining us for Saturday nights out.  His reason?   He was tired of being disappointed. 

Was our company that bad?  I don’t think so!

His expectation, though, was that every Saturday night might be the night he would meet the love of his life.  And so far, every Saturday night had left him discouraged and unhappy. 

He had become a pessimistic idealist.  

He still idealistically believed in love.  But he was pessimistic about ever finding it for himself.  He had lost hope.

That has to be one of the worst feelings in the world.  To believe that all things are possible – just not for you.

The opposite of that is to be an optimistic realist.   When you’re an optimistic realist, your life is full of possibilities but as Clint Eastwood famously said, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” 

Optimist realists are play-makers, problem solvers and most importantly, pragmatic planners.   Your focus is on the future you know is possible.

And when things come easy, you’re grateful and when they don’t, you’re still what I call a hopeful Scarlett.

What’s the biggest difference between the pessimistic idealist and the optimistic realist?

Expectations.  You know - that thing everyone’s always trying to manage? 

Linda Sterling Sease, Speaking of Joy

Moms.  CEO’s.  NFL coaches. 

Expectations can be brutal in life, in business, in love.   When things don’t turn out as we anticipate, it can create enormous disappointment and unhappiness.  Just ask any Denver Bronco fan.

We’ve all had our botched project, our failed relationship, our lost potential.  

But genuine happiness isn’t dependent on life’s many expectation variables.  Sincere joy comes from a place of gratitude.

University of Houston research Dr. Brene Brown says “…in 12 years of research, I’ve never interviewed a single person with the capacity to really experience joy who does not also actively practice gratitude.”     

Being grateful is unrelated to expectations or outcomes.  It is in spite of them.  And being hopeful is the same.

Until next week, I hope your life is full of joy and gratitude,


Linda Sterling Sease is a professional speaker, career coach & writer on the power of joy to transform companies, homes and communities.  To explore how Linda can work with your organization, call 303-319-5829 or email her at Linda at SterlingSease.com.