As I work to establish a routine, I did what I often do on Mondays (partly in hopes of carrying this habit into my new life and partly because I didn’t know what else to do) I jotted off to noon yoga. As Jole (my bestie and yoga teacher) brought us into child’s pose and began to focus us on our breathing, she suggested we leave all expectations behind. Expectations….the word got stuck in my head and I couldn’t shake it. There was something about that word….
Throughout practice, I kept having to refocus my mind back to the moment. Back to my breath. Back to my body…on this mat…in this room…right….now. I noticed that my body felt stiff. I was tired. My energy was low. I had expected to feel great. It might be Monday, but I didn’t come from or have to go back to work. The stress of the job didn’t exist anymore. I was doing yoga after a quiet weekend, but my body felt – different, not like I had expected to feel. I wasn’t performing to my full potential. Potential…now it was stuck in my head right next to expectation. I was volleying between the two. Breathe….let go….stay in the moment. Focus.
Needless to say this struggle continued through the entire class right into savasana and even followed me on the walk home. Those two words: expectation and potential. Harmless enough right? Not at all.
- expectation (noun): a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
- potential (noun): latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.
Both were a common part of my vernacular at work…as they should be. My job was to forecast events, numbers, and outcomes based on my experience, knowledge, and understanding of a given situation. My job was also to push people to their fullest ability. To see in them what they might not see in themselves and help them to see it and grow into it. I had lots of expectations of the company’s and people’s potential…and that made me good at my job.
Rewind to several years prior…I’m at the corporate office with my peers and my boss. We had all completed DISC assessments and were gathered to review them as a team. The goal was that by better understanding each others’ profiles, we would become stronger…communicate better…leverage our strengths and compensate for our weaknesses. Before we dug in, the instructor mentioned that typically each person has a “work profile” and a “personal profile”, and typically, those profiles are very different….except for me. Mine were exactly.the.same. I was a very, VERY high “D” (dominator) and a very, VERY high “I” (influencer) . In layman’s term, I was going to get what I wanted by either telling you to do it or selling you on the idea. Either way….I was going to win. At work, maybe. In my personal life, not at all. I lost…I lost big.
See expectation and potential are great when you’re looking to the future to forecast an outcome, but living a life like that leaves no time to be in the moment. You see, you can’t be in the moment…I mean truly BE in the moment, if you are constantly thinking about, focusing on, and obsessing over what MIGHT happen SOMETIME in the future. That’s no way to live. The result? I was constantly dating (or marrying) “potential” based on my “expectation” of what my life should look like. I was constantly trying to create the perfect outcome…the perfect scenario…the perfect life. All I really ended up creating was the perfect lie because none of it was based on reality. None of it was grounded in the moment. I was so busy looking forward that I missed all the signs that were right in front of me – giving me all the clues I needed to make the right decisions…for me…in the moment.
So here I am. Realizing the damage that expectation and potential caused and vowing to stay as connected to the present as I can. Doesn’t mean I won’t dream or hope or set intentions for the future, but it does mean that I’ll do my best to stay grounded in the moment. To see life and people and situations for what they are…not what they could be…or what I think they should be….but for what they are. No more letting expectation and potential kill the moment….or alter my future.