Every year when the holidays roll around, I find that there are inevitably so many opportunities to put high expectations on everything (and everyone.)
Expectations for what this season should feel like. Expectations of what the weather should be (not 80 degrees on Christmas Day, thank you, Florida). Of how and where we want our families to get together. Expectations for what gifts we’ll receive. Expectations for how someone should react to the gifts we give them. Expectations of people we need to see and the holiday parties we should be attending and the traditions we should be keeping up with.
And, given all of these expectations, there have been years in the past when I’ve found myself at the end of this holiday time period a bit… well... disappointed. Like I wanted it to feel so magical and warm and merry, but all I ended up feeling was stretched too thin with not enough time — like the whole thing whizzed by me and then it was gone.
Have you ever felt this way? Like you had an idea of what you wanted from the holiday season but then when it finally came it somehow came up short?
That’s not what I want for us!
I want you and me both to soak up every moment of these final two weeks of the year. I want it to be a time of comfort and rest and peace, not one of stress and potential disappointment.
So, to help achieve that, I thought I’d share with you a very simple idea that I learned about years ago which has framed the way I look at expectations (and protected me from disappointment in MANY different situations) ever since.
I call it the Math of Disappointment and it’s this simple “equation”:
Expectations - Reality = Disappointment
Take that in for a second. If you were to read this equation in plain English, you could say “Disappointment is the difference between expectations and reality.”
When our expectations are so high that reality fails to meet them, that's when we find ourselves disappointed.
It’s a simple but powerful relationship to acknowledge.
With that logic, one way of course to decrease our disappointment in this equation would be to simply work as hard as we can to make sure our reality lives up to our expectations. That would certainly narrow the gap, right?
In the context of the holidays, this could mean stressing out about buying that right gift for the right person, saying yes to every party invitation to maximize those social engagements and get that coveted friend-time in, squeezing every last to-do item on your list to ensure that the house smells like freshly-baked holiday cookies and sounds like Michael Bublé’s Christmas album all day, every day.
Trust me, I’ve gone that route before, and while it definitely guarantees that festive holiday cheer will be felt, it also pretty much guarantees you'll run yourself ragged, asking yourself when it will all be over so you can breathe again. Not ideal.
Instead, let's look to the equation for a different answer.
Another way to make sure you aren’t disappointed this holiday season is to simply eliminate expectations.
We could release ourselves from the idea of what this time is supposed to include or supposed to feel like or what our responsibility in all of it is. And instead, we could just BE.
We could fit in what we can, what we want to do, and we could let the rest go. We could soften in to the unexpected, unplanned PRESENT moment, and we could let that holiday cheer subtly surround us, softly and slowly.
Your challenge this week is to let go of expectations.
Welcome the holiday in with a care-free heart and see how differently that feels from years past.