Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are Your Expectations Realistic?

I am going to be planting my first vegetable garden this year and I have an image in my head of beautiful fruits and vegetables that are so tasty my two little boys will want to eat them straight from the garden. Well, I shared this wonderful image with my husband and he was kind enough to save me some disappointment by pointing out some very important facts...

Fact 1 - I don't know the first thing about growing fruits and vegetables.
Fact 2 - I have a proven track record of letting weeds take over other plantings in our yard.
Fact 3 - There are tons of critters in our yard that will most assuredly eat all of the "bounty" before my boys even get a chance to harvest.

And this is what you call managing expectations. Now that doesn't mean that I can't achieve my goal of a beautiful garden. Of course I can, but it is going to take A LOT more time and effort than I originally thought. Since becoming more realistic about the prospect of a garden I have been reading a lot and talking to people a lot to gather information. I have also been thinking about how much time I will need to spend tending to the garden each day to be successful. AND I am realizing that even if I do everything the best way that I know how that I still might not get the result I want because I am a gardening rookie and I am basing my image of a successful garden off of my mother-in-law's garden (who grew up on a farm and makes a living with my father-in-law as a farmer). Oh, and did I mention my lack of a green thumb?

In the same way that I had some unrealistic expectations, I find that students also need help managing expectations when it comes to their career. Some students don't know what they want for a career, but become frustrated because they think they should just KNOW. Well, that is unrealistic. People discover their passion through gathering information and experiencing life - sometimes things get figured out sooner and sometimes it takes a while. Discovering a career path cannot be rushed and it is not going to happen without spending time and effort.

We also see students who know where they are headed, but have unrealistic expectations about their career path. Perhaps they think they will make more money than is realistic because they know people who are in "X" profession who make a lot (how long have they been out working and how do you know how much they make, anyway?) or that they will be given a lot of responsibility because they feel ready for it (gotta pay your dues and work your way up the ladder, I'm afraid).

So perhaps as you think about your career, ensure you are making time to base your expectations in reality by doing research, talking to people and planning because if you are unable to manage your expectations you may find yourself disappointed.

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