Prescriptions for Action
Your expectations can determine whether you will succeed or fail in so many things —successfully starting a business (finally, after talking about it for years), or changing your career (after talking about it for years), or dieting (after failing so many times), going back to school, and dating, staying healthy, giving a speech to 300 people or 6,000 (after thinking all your life you could not possibly do that), or acting in a play the way you’ve always wanted, writing the novel or the song you’ve been thinking about, or inventing that product. On and on.
Since expectations can affect your life so deeply—can change failures to successes– it is worth knowing their secret.
Act “As If”
In an experiment adults were given the same ten puzzles to solve. When they were done working on them, half were told they had done well, seven out of ten right, and the other half were told they had done poorly, seven out of ten wrong. In fact what they were told was completely fictitious.
Then all were given another ten puzzles to solve, the same for each person. Then their efforts were actually graded. The half who had been told they had done well in the first round had self-confidence and so expected to do well again actually did better in the second, while the other half, with self-doubting expectations, did worse.
In that experiment so-called “high performers” in the first round may have in fact been low-performers. On the other hand, the people who were told they were low performers might actually have been very high performers. But that didn’t matter. What is significant is that everyone believed what they had been told and acted “as if” their expectations were factual.
In the same way, we go through life believing the expectations we hold about our chances of reaching success in anything, and we tend to act as if they are perfectly true and accurate. There are habitual-high-expectations people who expect to succeed in most everything they attempt, and habitual-negative-expectations people who expect to fail.
In the classic self-help book Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz points out that with hypnosis, people can be made to do things which they did not think it possible for them to do. For example, they might lift a very heavy object. Has hypnosis changed the person’s physical strength? Not at all. What has changed is the person’s belief or expectation of what is possible.
In fact, Maltz points out, the person has not actually been hypnotized but dehynotized from the limiting expectations he or she lived with. All life long we have hypnotized ourselves into believing that certain things are impossible. Lifting a car, for example. Yet in emergencies people with average strength have been able to do just that. Again, the person’s physical strength has not suddenly changed. What has changed is that they have broken through that self-hypnosis that we all live with. If we hold negative or limiting beliefs and expectations of our capabilities, we are hypnotizing ourselves into believing these limitations are true and accurate when they are not.
One way to change the false and limiting expectations we constantly place on ourselves is by using the technique of acting “as if” to our advantage. We can act “as if” in a positive and life-changing way. If you expect not to be able to reach success in some endeavor, or even a better life, you will probably be proven right because you will tend to act accordingly, “as if” success and a better life really are impossible for you.
But you can reverse that. You can expect to reach success by acting “as if” more positive and optimistic expectations are true. But expectations without decisions and action will lead you nowhere. You have to behave in a way that is commensurate with your expectations. It’s ridiculous to say, “I expect my book to be published one day” and not working hard to make that happen.
Six Prescriptions Leading to Success
1. Put failure completely out of your mind.
2. Remember that people with high expectations are better able to recover from setbacks. When you meet adversity and are thrown back, then more than ever you must have strong expectations that you will come out whole and happy on the other side of this misfortune. You must see the setback as only a temporary situation, and not a permanent condition. Then you must return to action more determined than ever.
3. Replace any expectations that are holding you back. All that’s needed now is to identify those expectations, and then consciously and deliberately change them into fruitful ones that facilitate success. Writing out your new expectations and rehearsing them is a good idea.
4. Act “as if” your positive expectations are true and accurate. Have confidence and boldly carry out your new expectations. You’ll meet with extraordinary success if you always put your faith in positive expectations and decisive action.
5. Surround yourself with people with high, favorable expectations of you. Avoid cynical people whose expectations of you are low–expectations that discourage, defeat, or underestimate you. A good companion is one who expects a great deal of you.
6. Have strong expectations, not weak ones. There are expectations, and then there are EXPECTATIONS! Your motivation to perform well, to achieve your purposes, to reach a better life depends not only on the attractiveness of what you’re seeking, but on the sheer strength—the power– of your expectations of succeeding. Limp, weak, non-committal, namby-pamby expectations are little better than no expectations at all. What you want are expectations that have a charge in them, that are so powerful that they will find a way through any impediment–not “I can succeed” but “I will.”
You’ll find that’s the way to succeed.
Let Me Know
Tell me about your experiences with expectations and how they affected your life positively or negatively. I’d like to hear from you.
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The Next Post
From the next post, coming soon, “Burn Up Your Energy in Action:”
“You must push yourself beyond your limits all the time, without reservation. Then you create new limits which, in turn, you will surpass. You can get closer to a better life today than you were yesterday if you are single-minded and burn your energy. “
© 2014 David J. Rogers
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