the benefits of unreasonably high expectations

People often cite the importance of lowering expectations. For instance, if I have just begun a writing project that I hope will one day blossom into a full-fledged novel, it might be in my best interest to lower expectations – for instance, by telling family and friends that it will likely turn out to be a lengthy writing exercise, or if I’m lucky, a short story or a self-published chapbook, when all is said and done. That way, if I do fail, no one will hold it against me.

But I have decided to take a different tack. Instead of lowering expectations, I try to raise expectations impossibly high. Like, instead of letting people know that I am trying my hand at writing a novel, I instead proclaim – both boisterously and repeatedly – that I am working on a heptalogy that will sweep the nation and make me heir to the likes of J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin, despite the fact that I don’t even have any initials in my pen name. I even promise my family and friends that, once I clear the 50 million books sold globally benchmark, I will take them all out to dinner, to a really really nice restaurant.

Of course, they won’t likely believe that I will reach my stated goal. So essentially, this unreasonably-high-expectation approach accomplishes the same overall effect as lowering expectations: It takes the pressure off me, and allows me wiggle room if I do fail. But on the plus side, it is way more optimistic!

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