Expectations are important whether it’s your expectations of yourself or setting expectations for others. In both cases it’s good to be realistic. If your expectations aren’t, it is a negative because you set the expectation too low as if you didn’t have faith in yourself in a given situation or set the expectation too high and don’t come close to touching it.

In setting expectations for yourself, you need to think them through. It may be the expectations you have regarding a co-worker, family member, or friend. Or maybe about a new job or opportunity. The hard part is thinking through if you have enough information to have realistic expectations. If not, can you get the information you need to do so? Information is power and an important part of being able to set your expectations.

When you’re setting expectations for others it may be even more important to make sure you have the information you need to set realistic expectations. In my role as an attorney, my clients are looking to me to walk them through the process of whatever legal situation they find themselves in and to advise them on the possible and likely outcomes. If I can’t do so, I’m not doing my job. 

Of course I can’t know whether a transaction will close or the outcome of a lawsuit, but I have enough experience to guide clients through each step and either set expectations step by step or regarding the ultimate outcome. Sometimes it’s not very specific because I don’t have the information I need to do so. If that’s the case, I let my client know and then, if I acquire new information, I revisit the issue of expectations based on what I’ve learned. 

Many times expectations are a moving target. Knowing this can help you set them for yourself or others. So when setting expectations, be realistic and adjust as new information is learned, while always being honest with yourself or whoever’s expectations you’re setting.