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Managing Expectations

Inculcate the habit of monitoring progress  among children right from their school days.Children must be taught to realise their expectations.

In today’s world, many aspects of human life need planning and management. Relationships and emotions need to be wisely managed, lest we make a mess of our lives. Today, in a student’s life, managing studies and pursuing a career alone are not enough; s/he is also faced with the daunting task of managing expectations from herself/himself and others; he/ she is to  handle individual, parental, institutional, industrial, and stakeholders’ expectations, not to mention his/her own changing paradigms of the concept.

A student’s life is loaded with daunting expectations, right from the time s/he is conceived. Parents dream of their child fulfilling all their aspirations,many of which they themselves could not. School life becomes a challenge with cut-throat competitions for every single mark and straight ‘A’s. The student sometimes forgets he can live a life that is not tied to achievements. While a child may not understand how to handle parental expectations, s/he can do so once s/he enters college and pursues professional education. It requires courage and accurate SWOT analysis to deduce the right career track, and not many would be equipped with that.

Many students who face problems with subjects like maths and science are left with no option but to listen over and over gain to the advice that they can be mastered with hard work. No amount of hard work can make a student interested in a subject if he has a deep revulsion towards the same or simply cannot grasp it. Forcing him/her to get interested in the subject is  similar to adding fuel to the disgust.

Parents are horrified when their children confess to not grasping a subject like maths which is almost a prerequi si te to enter into a p r o f e s s i o n a l course at the plus- 2 level. And children rattle the often repeated phrase, what do you expect me to do? It is high time children be trained to take control of thei r lives and manage expectations right from their school days.

One critical point to be debatable about is that students must never confuse expectations wi th compulsions which have deeper connotations. It is never possible to fulfil everybody’s expectations all the time. You can neither control them nor ignore them. It is important to handle expectations than to fulfil every one of them. This begins with understanding, assessing, prioritising, and then managing them deftly. A big problem with what others expect of us is that more often than not, it is based on comparisons with what someone else has done. The point of reference is almost always something or someone else.

Parents expect children to be as good as or better than ‘that child’, and institutes expect students to perform better than
‘that other school or college’.Human life runs on the most unstable variables. As people, circumstances and rules change, and so do our abilities and dreams. Expectation to be good is enough motivation; when it turns out to be better than or best, it becomes pressure.It’s not that pressure is always bad. The right kind of pressure can actually propel one towards success - pressure of performing better than the previous time, for instance. Competing with oneself is the most posi tive and fruitful form of pressure. Students must chart a career plan based on r e a l i s t i c p a r ame t e r s . What a student wants to achieve can be different from what s/he is capable of achieving.

A small gap between the two can be filled with hard work and training, but not a huge one. In that case, opting for a career suitable to their ability and liking would be the best option, even if it may not be as glamorous or matching with parents’ dreams. The world would not have progressed had it been run only by the doctors,engineers, and scientists. It takes people working in thousands of varied disciplines to keep it moving. Arts, crafts, social sciences, cinema, music, education, tourism, and personalised services; the list of career opportunities one can pursue are endless. It is important to know what you, as a student, expect from life.

Parents and teachers have their own set of expectations. Too much emphasis on fulfilling others’ expectations would only lead to frustration. Ways to handle expectations

* Prioritise what you  actually want in life – ‘first things first’ makes things easy. Also, be as specific as possible when you do so. What you need and expect in life are not the same things. Expectations score low in this hierarchy for they are very vague. One can only manage expectations if they can be measured.
* Aligning one’s own expectations with that of parents’ or institutes’is critical. Be realistic in managing expectations. Acknowledge the elephant in the room early on to avoid disappointments and frustrations. It is also not wrong to have our own set of expectations from others. For example, one can perform better only if the company provides proper systems and resources.One-way expectations can never work.
* Expectations must work to motivate and guide life like radar, but not be the engine which drives it. At every stage in ife,
sit and atom down or simply chart out what others expect of you and what you want to achieve. Break them into achievable  asks or actions. For example, parents expect you to do well in life. What does ‘doing well’ mean to them? Earning lots of  money? Being in higher positions? What is it that will make them happy? What are you expected to do for that? The company expects its employees to be ‘highly productive’. Break that down to what you are expected to do in a day’s work, in a quarter. How would you do that? Expectations usually bog down individuals when not managed.

Sensibility lies in handling them, not ignoring or controlling them. It makes life easier and happier for everyone concerned. Simply analysing expectations and understanding what they really refer to can help students and anyone to a great extent.