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Managing Expectations

Submitted by Bethany on Mon, 02/17/2020 - 10:00

Sometimes it feels like 2020 has so far been a year of learning lessons. Hard-earned ones.

I long for it to be the year of settling down (after almost 2 years of full-time travel) but that elusive goal continues to be just out of reach. I feel like I'm doing everything I can to reach that goal but other things continue to be in my way - the flat remodel that will never end, the work visa that will never be attained, etc. (The "never" part of those being my most pessimistic side coming out to play.) 

I've shared before that I am a 7 on the Enneagram. Among many other things, this means that I tend to live in the future. There is not much I love more than a good daydream session about the future - about how perfect my life will be once "X" is achieved or experienced. Funnily enough, even when X finally does happen, I never quite get to that perfectly satisfied feeling I anticipate so often. Just today I found myself showing Joel a picture of our future manse on Google maps and waxing poetically about how perfect a Christmas tree will look in the front window. 

Joel, sensibly, told me to go outside, look around, and appreciate where I am right now. Yes, we are not where we expected to be in mid-February of 2020. We thought for sure I would be working by now, we'd be in our London flat, things would be settling down. Instead, we are flying back to the USA on Thursday and may or may not get to leave all of our things in the London flat before then. More likely, half our things will be in the flat, half will remain at Vince and Joan's, and the other half (yes, I know that's too many halves) will still be in my parent's basement where it's been since July of 2018. 

But we are, still, in a good place. Vince and Joan care for and love us like our own parents. Their home is welcoming, gracious, warm, and their garden is beautiful (I spent some time out there this afternoon.) We really could not ask for more in this time of transition and unknowing.

I've realized that I need to go back to a lesson I learned early on in this travel venture - managing expectations. When we first started roaming the world I was impressed by my own ability to manage setbacks - I didn't break down the night we spent in a Berlin train station, or the month we spent without an entire piece of luggage, etc. Sometime around mid-2019 I started getting thrown every time something didn't meet my expecations - and let's be real, travel almost never meets my expectations. Instead of rolling with the punches I found myself wanting to punch back, to work harder to make everything live up to what I wanted. 

But that's not how life works. So, I'm going to try and go back to lower expectations. Perhaps this sounds pessimistic. But for me, someone who spends far too much time living in the future, this is healthy. I need to learn to appreciate where I am, to dream less of the future and spend more time living where I am in the moment. If I set my expectations lower, I can be pleasantly surprised by life, rather than constantly disappointed. 

To that end, I thought I would manage your expectations a bit, dear reader. I've realized that in the midst of this crazy transition time that blogging 5 times a week just isn't feasible for me anymore. I demonstrated this by taking an unexpected and unintended week off when Steve was here, and then coming back but still not quite living up to 5 posts a week. In order to move forward with reasonable expectations (both for myself and you), I am declaring that I will now be doing only 3 posts a week. I will aim to post on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. I think this schedule will be sustainable during the transition and into working part-time. When I start working full time in September I may re-evaluate again. 

I doubt anyone will be disappointed by this news other than my mother (hi mom!) though to her I would point out that the less time I spent writing whilst in Iowa the more time I have to spend with her. (You're welcome!) 

To you, I might suggest, think about what expectations you have in life and which ones are being met and which ones aren't. Do you need to lower some in order to achieve greater satisfaction? Try to see that less like a failure and more as a re-adjusting to reality. (Yes, I am preaching to myself here.) 

Am I the only one who struggles with managing expectations? Do you have any advice for me on how to wade these murky waters? I welcome suggestions! 

XOXO, Bethany