Living without expectations

A good friend and I met after a few years. And, of course, we were in the midst of an engaging conversation just as he was heading to the airport. We spoke about changes we’d experienced in the past few years. And, one such change I spoke about was around expectations. I tried explaining how I’d been slowly attempting to re-wire my approach to life by taking expectations out of the picture.

Every once a while, we see a post on the web that beautifully encapsulates how we feel. And, Jason Fried’s excellent post on “Living without expectations” did just that. I’ve copied my favorite paragraphs below.


One of the few things in life we control is our reaction to things. And expectations tee up those reactions. They often set the odds on the outcome, and the odds usually aren’t in your favor. I’ve decided I’d rather stick with actual reactions rather than putting my reactions at a disadvantage by mixing them with with my everything-should-be-amazing imagination.

If you ever want to be disappointed by someone, set unrealistic expectations. Of course as you get to know someone you have a sense of what they’re capable of, but even then people just do as they do, they don’t miss, meet, or exceed my expectations.

I’m convinced that people would like things a whole lot more if someone else didn’t tell them they wouldn’t like it. Stuff’s pretty great, you know.

If I’m competing on something, I don’t expect to win. I want to win. I’ll do my best to win. But I don’t expect to win. My expectations have nothing to do with what I’m competing on, and I don’t control the other side.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to set up expectations in my head all day long. Constantly measuring reality against an imagined reality is taxing and tiring. I think it often wrings the joy out of just experiencing something for what it is. So over the past few years I’ve let those go and ended up considerably happier and more content.

And really, every day has a shot at being pretty great when your only expectation is that the sun comes up.


So true – thanks Jason.

4 thoughts on “Living without expectations

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