Managing Expectations for a Happier You - Isaac Fang CFA, ChFC, CFP Managing Expectations for a Happier You - Isaac Fang CFA, ChFC, CFP
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Managing Expectations for a Happier You

Manage expectations for a happier you

Managing expectations - Why

Nobody likes to be oversold and have outcomes underwhelming. We have to manage expectations so as to minimize the emotional volatility that comes with the outcomes. In fact, we prefer our outcomes to be beyond our expectations. However, if our expectations are sky high to begin with, we might be setting ourselves up for disappointment already. Then again, we also cannot be setting our expectations too low till we are easily contented such that we end up settling for less too.

Striving for the ideal while criticizing the real, is evidence of immaturity. Settling for the real without striving for the ideal, that is complacency. Maturity is living with the tension. ~ Rick Warren in the book “The Purpose Driven Life”

Goodwill, Expectation, Obligation and Duty

Tied to the concept of the emotional bank account, I believe it is important for human interactions to set right the differences between goodwill, expectation, obligation and duty. A whole lot of misunderstandings can be avoided if people are clear minded about how a human action is perceived or ought to be perceived. In ascending levels of consequential severity, here they are.

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Emotional Bank Account Credit
Emotional Bank Account Debit
Emotional Bank Account Healthy
Managing expectations with goodwill

“The scheme is dependent on goodwill between the 2 sides.”

Speaking for myself, at this level, if there is no reciprocity, I have no ill feelings whatsoever and will write off whatever I have given. I know it has an accounting meaning too but I am not referring to that for this write up.

Expectations to be managed

“A belief that someone will or should achieve something.”

Well this could be the self or of another. And at this level, unmet expectations do generate disappointment but that’s about it.

“A debt of gratitude for a service or favour.”

It can be argued that debts can default. But such will not be viewed kindly and the disappointment will be greater compared to expectations level.

Duty is serious obligation

“A task or action that one is REQUIRED to perform as part of one’s job.”

There is penalty for non performance at such level. ie Negligent in the duty of care.

Mismatch of levels plenty

Generally, when there are perceived differences between 2 parties on the same action, there will be discontent. Examples include, the guy pays for meals on dates a few times out of goodwill but the gal sees it as an obligation. Or a client who picks up an ILP from a licensed representative thinks there is a duty on the representative to watch over the investments when there is no written obligation to do so, and the representative thinks that he/she is doing so only out of goodwill.

Proper Match Example

I do not wish to use negative examples to explain a point. I went to check a CFA topic’s learning outcomes descriptions against Bloom’s taxonomy. This is a positive example of how it should be.

Managing expectations from courses

Understand beyond this image collage is that there are courses out there with learning outcomes, that are not in sync like those in this example. The list of learning outcomes is akin to the learning contract really.

It might serve people well to use Bloom’s Taxonomy chart to understand the technicality behind each word because some does imply multiple case studies project work required in the course. In which case, either you expected it and it was not delivered. Or you thought it was an introductory course but it turns out otherwise heavier load than perceived. Either way, manage expectations.

By the way, I work primarily based on the emotional bank account model. You know what I do, let me know how I can be of service.


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