Please, don’t set expectations when you are on a high score.
Succeeding at something always requires time. And we often wish to foresee how much success we can reach in one year and how much we can improve and get closer to our goals.
The correctness of the forecast fills us with joy because we meet our expectations. But many times, those predictions are erroneous, so we give up on our goals before even trying our best.
In the past years, I set many expectations but fulfilled only a few. So I analyzed those that brought me to the correct predictions and made a list of situations when I should avoid setting standards. This list has become my simple guide on how much success I can reach in one year, and I always use it when setting new goals or expectations.
Don’t set expectations on a high score.
This past year, I learned a crucial lesson: success never resembles your best day of the year repeated for 365 days. On the contrary, your average day covers 80% of your year, while the remaining time splits between lower lows and higher heights.
It’s the Pareto principle’s trap.
When you are on a high score, you can cherish those memorable days and take them as inspiration. But you should never set expectations on the best days of your year because you will never reach that distorted success they foretell.
To avoid high expectations, I use two different techniques alternatively.
The Humble Pie
When I am on a low score, I don’t make projections because I don’t want my business to fail. When on a high score, however, I draw infinite success graphs. So to decrease the impact of those forecasts, I use the humble pie technique.
Every time the high score period finishes, I delete any expectations made in those days. It doesn’t matter if they were realistic or not. I consider them frail because of the influence of the positive bias, so I discard them.
The Wise Thinker
With the second technique, I actively forbid myself from setting any expectations, no matter how successful I am in the moment.
This second technique is more challenging because it implies controlling your emotions. Yet, it is the most efficient because you don’t have to crush any expectations. Not in the immediate future, and not even at the end of the year, as it happens to many.
Track tasks and monitor emotions.
Actions are the components of our goals. And thus, tracking them with the correct system becomes vital for the goal’s completion. The best tracking system, however, is trivial without an emotional monitor.
Although some days you can finish ten tasks without feeling any pressure, many times exaggeration hurts you. But with a tracking system, you won’t spot the differences, and the most efficient day also becomes the best one.
Pairing a tracking system for duties with monitoring emotions can solve the problem. So the average score between completed tasks and happiness can make you truly recognize the best day overall.
The double-tracker is a system I have been using for almost a year now, and I don’t plan to change it soon.
With the double-tracker, you keep both of your monitoring systems in the same place. So if you want to have a glance at your past days, the result will be easily consultable.
Also, when I review my day in the evening, I have direct feedback on the positivity or negativity of my actions. Working too much and neglecting my emotions force me to behave better the next day. On the other hand, procrastinating all day long pushes me to take better care of my tasks.
Adapt and compromise (if necessary).
When I project my goals, I love to use percentages because they make me understand better how much time I need to reach completion. For example, to complete a plan in one year, I need to improve around 8% every month. Make it 10% for consistency.
So each time I plan, I start by defining how much I can improve my current state in one month. I strive to make that improvement and reach the 10% mark if I want to complete the goal in a year, or 5% if two years are acceptable, and so on.
Most people, however, don’t adapt to their target once they set their goal because they see it as a failure. So they strive to meet their expectations every month, and the more they fail, the worse they feel.
In those cases, compromise prevents bitterness. And a monthly check-up can save your motivation from collapsing.
The Monthly Check-Up
At the end of each month, I take some time to rethink my goals and my expectations. It is an exercise that helps me both cope with failure and refill with motivation.
If I do not hit the threshold or it is too complicated, I lower my standards gradually. The decrease in commitment makes me feel more motivated and less pressured. Also, the next month, I am willing to prove myself wrong and do better.
Nevertheless, no resentment generates from failing my plans for only a month. It doesn’t bother me because I know I can get back on track the following month.
Dare when it suits you better.
Even if I strive to normalize productivity, sometimes procrastination gets to me. But so does hyper-activity, so I need to exploit those days at their best.
Many factors can influence your productivity. Sometimes it is all about effective systems. Some other times, it may just be a sunny day. But when those days happen, motivation starts flooding, and you should dare to use that power and push yourself to the limits.
You can’t know when another day like that will return, nor if it ever will. So dare when it suits you better.
The Long-Term Planner
Since there are no signals of a highly motivated day arriving, I can’t prepare for it. A long-term plan, however, can save me from such short notice.
Improvisation is a dangerous pattern because it can make you fail a project or slow it down considerably. So if you ever experienced moments of pure motivation, make long-term plans for your activities. This way, you won’t have to improvise, and the risk of failure will be lower.
Following this simple guide, you will know how much success you can reach in one year. There are only four rules you need to obey.
First, do not set expectations on a high score because you will never reach them.
Second, a tracking system is crucial, but an emotional tracker is even better.
Third, if necessary, you need to adapt. You cannot reach every goal you set. But with compromise, you often avoid bitterness.
And fourth, sometimes you should take all the rules and throw them out of the window. Dare when it suits you better. Embrace greed and fight your way through challenging moments. And you will reach much more success in one year than you have ever thought.
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