Aim high, hope low; there’s nothing wrong with having no expectations. This might seem contrary to the perspective you have always heard, however, it could serve you extraordinarily well.
Even if you are generally an unlucky person, expecting luck to be far from your side at all times is a negative attitude. Similarly so, expecting life to always work out just because it has in the past does not guarantee future success. Your hard work might not pay off in the way you originally expected, which does not have to be a bad thing. So you’re probably thinking: How do I break the chain of disappointment, potential regret and fear of not achieving my goals?
The first step is to not ditch your ambition with reckless abandon: Do not bury your dreams. There’s no need to give up on yourself. Step two: Do not try to take the opposite approach and attempt to create a variety of backup plans for all of life’s misgivings. There is simply no way to do so either sanely or responsibly. Step three: You could have already guessed — aim high, hope low. This involves striving for something but then being able to adapt if it does not work out. It’s not expecting that you deserve a certain outcome just because you did one thing well. It’s keeping the pressure off of you by relying solely on your own capabilities, skills and talents. This will save you worry, time and self-doubt. Every action you take and every situation you are in is an opportunity to learn, to adapt and to grow.
Aiming high and hoping low takes belief and practice. This is especially valuable in college, when issues having to do with friends, clubs, project, degrees or whatever else emerge. This attitude will also apply to the future, allowing you to thrive in any situation. Prepare to be unprepared is my advice. I promise, if you take a look at your past experiences (unless you absolutely dread and reject spontaneity and surprises), you can think of a few situations where this principle held true.
If not, I offer two scenarios to reflect on.
Suppose you worked your buns off last term to try and pass orgo; to your surprise, you managed to earn an A. Now you need references for med school applications, and the orgo professor who once seemed like an unlikely candidate is jumping out of his seat to deliver you a glowing recommendation. There it is. Completely unexpected, but bam: You aimed high, hoped low — and are now reaping the rewards of your work and enjoying it because you did not expect it.
Still don’t believe me? Enter scenario number two: The holidays are approaching, and you’ve got a stellar trip planned with your friends to hop down to a tropical island for an extended weekend. You get to the airport in a blizzard and your flight is delayed, and ultimately, after waiting through the night in those awful blue seats, it is canceled. There are a few options here, and complaining about the time lost on the beach only lasts so long. Do not hold onto what went wrong; instead focus on what you can gain and how you can best solve the scenario.
Aim high, dream big, work hard and have no expectations of what the indirect outcomes could bring. Don’t expect the unexpected; just enjoy it when it happens.