Remove Yourself from Outcomes and Break the Chains of Expectation

May 16, 2018

Outcomes & Expectation..

Don’t you just hate when shit doesn’t go your way?  How dare that nobody HR recruiter hire someone else for your dream job.  The audacity of your ex to fall out of love with you and meet someone new.  Who wouldn’t want want to buy the product you designed.  Why did MY flight need to get delayed.  You get the picture..


It doesn’t require much life experience to realize that sometimes life doesn’t roll out as you expected or had planned for.  When you think about it, it’s almost funny that this still upsets us.  Generally it comes with age and wisdom to accept that a lot of what happens to us is outside of our control.  The ability to continue moving forward without much affliction however, is a skill that must be cultivated.  

Someone of importance to us – or seemingly – leaving us, a missed – assumed – opportunity,   a perceived string of bad luck.  All of these situations can drag us down mentally.  In some cases they can nearly tear us apart, even to the point of no return.  But in most cases.. we are still breathing, we are still standing and we can still get on with life.  That is, if we choose to, and prepare ourselves accordingly.


98% of the time it is mental pain that is inflicted upon us.  In reality this is pain that can only touch us if we allow it to.  


Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you deal with it.

How you handle what life throws at you, determines the outcome.  Yes, you are kinda’ the master of your own destiny.  


The key to handling it best, is to approach all of life without expectation and maintaining no more than a healthy, and situationally appropriate level of mental investment in each event, area, and object of pursuit in life.  The only expectation we should have really, is that anything can happen.


How any particular situation, project, or relationship will turn out is not always within our control, we know this.  Within our control is how we respond.  We can equip ourselves to respond appropriately by approach the happenings in our lives’ with a few mental switches.  Let’s take a look at each one of these mindsets and the risks they pose us.


Are you expecting?..

Approaching situations with expectations is assuming a particular outcome will happen.  Confidence is sexy, but there’s a fine line between confidence and an unrealistic expectation of what’s to proceed.


Assuming blindly that doing A automatically will yield B is hazardous.  Having this mindset sets you up for failure, honestly a lot of disappointment.


For example, it’s great to have your goals set on getting a high paying job out of university.  But don’t think just because you showed up to classes and paid tuition that you will get a job on that alone.


That leads to another aspect of having too high of expectations for a particular outcome, entitlement.  Expectation is a dirty little manifestation of entitlement.  We must remember we are entitled to nothing, we eat what we earn.  


You might be lead to question my above example with university.  Haven’t you earned a prestigious job if you paid for, attended, and received a degree?  The short answer is no.  These days a degree is a bare minimum and what you may not be told is that experience and past performance – a portfolio of accomplishments – outweigh education everytime.


Managing our expectations in each and every event of life is the key.  Now, on to emotional investment.




A bad investment..

Mental or emotional investment is tying yourself to the outcome of any event, object or person.  Investing too much into a situation or an object leads to a few problems; over thinking, and putting things on a pedestal which leads to the sunk cost fallacy


Over thinking, famous for its abilities to build a mental mountain of worry over not much more than a few pebbles of a problem.  This increased build up of neurotics can inhibit us from taking action.  And that is a problem.


I’ve let myself become a victim of overthinking.  I’ve passed up starting conversations with beautiful women because I started to worry about the rejection to a point where I didn’t even allow myself the chance to think what if she didn’t turn me down.  I had put too much investment into the fear of getting rejected.


Don’t over-invest

Another issue with investing too much of yourself, is allowing someone or something to be put up on a pedestal.  This applies a heightened sense of worth to something not necessarily grounded in reality.  When you have an unrealistic value of any one thing, you can become manipulated by it.


Someone too emotionally invested in a business they are trying to get off the ground and have been pumping money into fails to see that they are throwing money away on a lost cause.  Someone viewing from a more objective lense could see.


Trying to hold together a toxic relationship, because you’ve been together for years already is due to an emotional investment that clouds your judgement from the fact that you would be much better off moving on.


When you go into a situation with too much mental investment on a particular outcome you set yourself up for failure.  Life happens to us, not for us.  There’s so much of it we can’t control, so we can’t allow our happiness and mental health to be swayed so easily.


We must keep check on our expectations and mind how invested we become in anything.  


Devil’s advocate says..

Unrealistic or naive expectations, and inappropriate investment are clearly both harmful.  Though it’s worth noting these are innate reactions for a reason.


It’s healthy for you to set goals and act in ways of pursuing those goals.  Without perseverance, you’re not likely to achieve the ends you wish.  As mentioned the key is to avoid any sense of entitlement, knowing full well that you only get what you’ve earned.  Secondly, that you must keep your expectations realistic.


Mentally investing in projects, people, a job or hobby, etc helps you see through what you start.  I mean, it’s hard to finish something you give a low amount of fucks about, right?  At the same time, you want to detach yourself from the outcome.  It may seem counter intuitive, but by doing this you truly allow yourself to only invest in things right for yourself.  You do it for the experience, not any particular outcome.  Nor are you shaken by the outcome.


The two work in tandem, without overly investing yourself in particular expected outcomes you can detach yourself from the expectations and do what’s true for you.




In Conclusion..

Shit happens.  Whether you like it or not, whether you are actively engineering your life or sitting back and letting it happen to you.  You can’t control the forces of the universe.


What you can control is how you respond to what life throws at you.  To be best suited to handle life efficiently you need to remove your expectations and reduce your emotional investment in most domains.


When you aren’t approach endeavors without expectation you are free to do your best work and avoid disappointment.  

When you are not overly emotionally invested you are flexible and not shaken by the sways of the unpredictable.


Have you applied these principles in your life?  Do you have any particular methods for persevering through the changes of life?

I would love to hear them!  People share below in the comments.  Remember, sharing is caring, so if you enjoyed this article, show it to someone you love or hate.

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  • Currently located in China, teaching English and working towards Financial Freedom. I write about money, travel, personal development and more!

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