Have you noticed that expectation is a self-fulfilling prophecy? What would happen if you expected great things? Often we set goals and have a vision for our lives but what happens when we miss the mark? Looking back on my life, the times where I felt things didn’t go the way I hoped it is easy to think about what happened or what went “wrong.”
I can’t help but pull out my problem-solving bag of tricks! In Six Sigma problem solving, my go to tool for getting to root cause has always been “the 5 why’s” analysis. It’s not complicated to use – just ask “why” something happened. Then be honest and answer truthfully. Whatever your answer is you ask “why” again, and again, and again. This “just the facts” approach leaves emotion behind to dig deep into the issue. After this process its remarkable to discover that “root cause” is often something of a surprise, or something I had not considered in this context before. With clients I find that limiting beliefs can be the final “why” in this process.
I used this tool often back in my engineering days, but have found it extremely useful as a self-discovery tool as well. It has helped me discover that often a contributing factor to a poor outcome might be because our expectations of “how things are” limits us from achieving what we want. Here is an example from a recent coaching client that was struggling to set up a daily routine for work from home productivity. She was struggling to get exercise and self-care into her day. She was saving 1-hr a day since she no longer had to commute to work, but was still feeling like she couldn’t pull it all together. Here’s a synopsis of how the conversation went as we used the 5 Why’s to dig into it.
5 Whys Analysis Example
#1 Why – Why is it so difficult to get time for exercise and self-care into the daily routine? Answer: I get busy with other things and I don’t get to it.
#2 Why - Why do I get busy with other things and skip exercise? Answer: There is not enough time in the day to do my job, take care of household tasks, feed the family, etc.
#3 Why – Why is there not enough time in the day to do this? Answer: I spend time on other priorities, commitments, goals, and other things. But the truth is, I do waste a little time on social media, watching television, or streaming the latest bingeables on Netflix. Could it be there IS ENOUGH TIME but she is wasting it? Ouch. I suggested a time study (good old industrial engineering tool) for just one week to take a look at where her time was going. I recommend this free excel template I found online https://www.smartsheet.com/free-time-management-templates When she did the study, she realized she spent 13 hours on social media and 7 hours on Netflix. Some more questions…
#4 Why – Why do I waste my precious time? Why is exercise not a part of my priorities, commitments, goals, or other things? To be honest, I see so much to be done that I sometimes give up too easily on my to do list.
#5 Why – Why do I procrastinate on my to do list? I guess I feel that I’ll never get to the end of the list. I am overwhelmed by the long list, exercise is just another thing on there to be done. It is easy to “check out” and waste time on social media and Netflix and put things off.
#6 Why – Why do I feel it is impossible to get it all done? Huh. Stumper…Because I BELIEVE I cannot get it all done!
Bingo! Often our expectations are based on assumptions and our underlying beliefs. When you believe “this is never going to work” then it surely will not work. If you believe there is not enough time you will find your days fly by with important tasks undone.
What if you believed there is enough time?
After her time study my client admitted that there is much more time available to be doing an exercise routine. She was embarrassed by the amount of time she wasted, but it is a huge problem for many of us. Her underlying belief that “its impossible to get it all done” fueled her avoidance of tasks and overuse of time-wasting vices.
This core belief needed to shift so she could become more productive. She repeated the affirmation “There is enough time and energy to accomplish all my goals” and set up text reminders with the affirmation. She began an exercise program and made her treadmill time her Netflix time. She limited social media to be a once-a-day activity for 30 minutes. These small changes have helped her make exercise a part of her routine, and she has stuck with it for three months and dropped 10 lbs.
Thoughts become things
This is just one example how our beliefs unconsciously drive our actions and keep us from reaching our potential. Imagine what would happen if we expected good things!
2022 will be my most successful year!
I can easily manage any challenges that come my way!
I am talented and uniquely skilled – I will get that amazing job I applied for!
There is enough time to do all the things I want to do!
Joy, happiness, and fulfillment is how my life rolls!
<fill in the blank with your own awesome expectation>
Consider the profound impact this can have in your own life. Are the assumptions and expectations you have about yourself liberating or victimizing? Ever notice how people who think they're going to be fired suddenly experience a drop in the quality and enthusiasm for their work? Then what happens? They get fired! Their belief causes them to act a certain way, and those expectations then work to bring about the very thing that at first was only a figment of their imagination.
Your thoughts are more powerful than you know. I challenge you to think about your expectations for the coming year. Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Even dorky scientists know the importance of setting intentions! Imagine the best possible outcome and expect good things for yourself.