How many times have you looked at your calendar, found a scheduled event, and started to predict in your brain how you think it will play out in the future? Maybe you see a meeting coming up at 2:00pm and it ruins your lunch because you can’t stop imagining how much your annoying co-worker is just going to complain for an hour. Perhaps you have a lunch scheduled with a new business contact and you aren’t really looking forward to it because “shop talk” kind of drives you nuts, especially when you are trying to eat.
Now, think about how many times that actual event played out as you imagined. How many times did you get upset thinking about a meeting that turned out to be not that bad, or actually kind of enjoyable? How many times did you think you would struggle at a workout only to get there any find out you dominated it. Or, on the flip side, how many times did you think you would crush a workout only to have it crush you?
The point is that our expectations are unfair judgments of a future event and are ofter wrong. There are a ton of times when we let our expectations influence our mood and demeanor leading up to the event only to find that the aggravation we held on to for the last 3 hours of our day wasn’t even justified.
Expectations comes from our desire to try to predict the future in hopes of eliminating the unknown. We use past experiences to shape judgments of future experiences. Every time we predict the future correctly, that goes into our brain’s affirmative bank and we have that moment of, “See, I told you this would happen.” Every time we predict the future incorrectly, we simply chalk it up to an exception until the number of exceptions out number the number of correct predictions and then we change our expectation.
However, all of this predicting, affirming, considering, anxiety, and anticipation is pointless. Humans don’t have the capability to see the future. It doesn’t matter how many times we correctly predict a future event, the potential for it to be different next time is always 100%. In reality, we have absolutely no way of knowing what’s to come. We may have some influence over the future with the choices we make right now, but nothing we do will ever control how a future event will actually play out. We can even prepare for years for a specific event in the future, like the job interview for your dream job or a fitness competition, only to find that our preparation served no purpose or was completely unnecessary.
So, why do we spend so much time and energy anticipating the future?
Instead of wasting time creating pointless expectations in your brain, focus on the present. Look at what you are doing now. How can you enjoy the present? You can’t anticipate the present, it is already happening. You can’t fear the present because fear is a prediction of the future. Have confidence that the future will play out when you reach that future time. You can’t stop it from coming and you can’t speed it up.