Even before we are conceived, there are expectations. Our parents expect to become pregnant (perhaps not at that very moment, but someday). As we grow in our mother’s womb, there are more expectations—boy or girl. After birth, even more expectations—how soon will we smile? crawl? walk? talk? And the expectations continue piling on and on and on…..
It is my firm belief that decades of all these expectations is precisely the cause of the mid-life crisis. We reach the age of self-examination and come to the conclusion that our lives are exactly NOT what we expected. A good friend of mine has a great 15 year marriage, 3 beautiful children, held the same job for 10 years, and is financially secure. He told me recently that one day not so long ago he looked at his life and thought, “really? This is it?!” And he has a good life. But yet…
I know exactly how he feels. Several years ago I had been feeling out of sorts with my work and started wondering if it was time for me to move on to another job, place, project. During that time, I had a vivid dream that suggested to me that it was indeed time to move on to something else. As a result (call me crazy), we picked up and moved—for the second time in as many years—across the country so I could start my own business. Oh, yes, I had great expectations. It was going to be marvelously successful! And because we were moving closer to my family, there was a sense of “homecoming” as well. It was going to be grand! Reconnecting with old college friends and my family, our daughter being close to her grandparents—fabulous!
Wait… did you hear that noise?
Yes, it was the sound of screeching car tires coming to a screaming halt. Reality check—not marvelous, not grand, not fabulous. Almost two years after starting my business I had one client. It took my husband over a year to find a permanent, full-time job. We did manage to purchase a house after living with my parents for four months, but most months it was a struggle to make the mortgage payments. And it turns out the only friends in my friends list were my old college friends who I saw mostly during college football season and the occasional girls-night-out. Oh, yes, great expectations.
If great expectations sometimes lead to great disappointments, then it should also be true that no expectations lead to no disappointments. Right? That theory might work well when applied to mathematics, but not so much for real life situations. For me anyway, having no expectations lead directly to sloth and lethargy. I did virtually no work on promoting my business or trying to cultivate new friendships, and guess what— nothing happened. Only I felt even more disappointed than before, and slightly depressed on top of it. Great expectations or no expectations, I couldn’t win either way.
But then it occurred to me that perhaps, instead of having no expectations, I simply needed to change my expectations. Instead of expecting to have five new clients by the end of the summer, maybe I needed to expect to make five new networking contacts this month. Instead of expecting friends and acquaintances to call me up for a girls night out, I needed to make more of an effort to contact them regularly. And maybe I also needed to lower the bar from “great” to “good” in the expectations department.
So how are your expectations measuring up? If you’re curious about how music therapy might help, contact me anytime. I’m always happy to answer questions!