Home » All Articles » No Expectations, No Disappointments: Present Living For Growth
No Expectations, No Disappointments: Present Living For Growth

No Expectations, No Disappointments: Present Living For Growth

“When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.” – Ryan Reynolds

Expectations paint a picture of a future that may or may not happen. When high expectations don’t materialize, excruciating negativity can set in. It could be the loss of confidence we feel when a few “key people” don’t like our work. It might be the painful disappointment of not being selected, picked or chosen for a specific opportunity that has been attached to “happiness.”

This happens when we project too much power into one single person, thing or event. If that specific objective doesn’t go our way, we’re left with the uneasy feeling that we wasted our time, or worse, that we are failures.

Instead, we can choose to have no expectations. By doing this, we accept the outcomes, whatever they might be. If it’s a failure, we can choose to view it as a lesson learned. It’s not who we are. It’s simply an experience that happened for a reason. If it’s a success, we can choose to be humble and grateful. It might not happen again.

The danger lies in expecting specific situations or circumstances to arise when we have little control of the process or chain of events tied to it. Expecting a boss to give a raise can be fraught with potential disappointment. The decision is based on many factors outside of personal performance – politics, the economy, the budget, etc.

On the other hand, expecting very little of ourselves can lead to low self-esteem. Then we start believing the low expectations, which become self-fulfilling prophecies. When we have “no expectations,” we are starting from ground zero. Whatever happens, happens. We simply choose how to react.

So how do we do it? How can we create the habit of having “no expectations?”

I know one way that works for me. It’s simple to understand, but it can be difficult to execute. It’s focusing on the task at hand. Instead of guessing the future, or worrying about it, we can choose to direct our energy into what’s presently staring us in the face. No expectations, no disappointments.

By directing attention and awareness on the present, we can let go of the future expectations. Life begins to unfold naturally. We make decisions that seem to magically work out. Small challenges seem to not spiral out of control into larger problems.

Instead of depleting our energy by thinking obsessively about potential outcomes, we can channel it into “the right here,” “the right now.” We can choose to trust that the right future will happen if we do the work today, whatever that might be.

Expectations are guesses that are often wrong. Even when they’re right, they often feel different from what was initially created in our imagination. The pain of losing one big game subsides when we recognize the personal achievements that happened along the way.

Rainy weather creates the opportunity for indoor fun. A hospital stay carves out time to reflect and change the trajectory of our life.

Resisting the temptation of setting expectations lets us work from a blank sheet – no false hopes or unrealistic conclusions.  No expectations, no disappointments.

You become that artist of your life as it unfolds. You paint what “is” and not what “should be.”


No Expectations, No Disappointments: Present Living For Growth
5 100% 2 votes

About J. B. Riebel

J.B. Riebel is a co-founder of www.holisticblue.com - a natural wellness shop, as well as the owner and writer at www.theholisticblueguy.com. Above all else, he is an optimistic, life-long learner that thoroughly enjoys helping others live better.


  1. This is a nice reminder to live in the present moment. Thank you 🙂

  2. Great post for more current situation: ten consecutive rejections and I needed an umbrella under which to shelter from the black cloud that threatens! Thank you. I guess I’ll send out some more submissions and see what happens.

  3. I love this post. This is exactly what I needed to read at this time, as I face letting go of my own expectations and continually work on being open and grateful to whatever is. It’s so well written and simple too. Thank-you for reminding me to appreciate what is rather than what I wish it would be! 🙂

  4. oh i love that to be the artist of your life! most excellent post as usual! XO!

  5. very true! Expectations lead to dissapointments. Also sometimes I feel we should be prepared for the worst too along with the positive outcome too , as when instead of worst the outcome is positive ( which everyone wants in ones heart of hearts), then our joy is multiplied manyfold.

  6. I don’t know if I entirely agree with the idea of having no expectations. First, I am a perfectionist. Not to the extent I once was. But, I am, nevertheless. Second, expectations do, in fact set one up for potential disappointment. On the other hand, aren’t goals expectations? And, I believe I can have expectations, goals, plans, etc., while resigning myself to being open to what may come. I think both are possible.

  7. Couldn’t agree more with the post…

  8. I agree with Marie Therese, that living in the present moment is key to living. Joy is what comes from deep inside, in spite of which direction the circumstances take us. Therefore, MRW, I understand what you’re saying about expectations and goals; goals, plans and dreams are what we’re shooting for, the variables of what may happen (expectations), are the dice. When what we have inside is the joy we’ve cultivated and nurtured, we can be more open to possibilities. Life is a crap shoot!

  9. Yes -life here, life now is more than enough when we truly pay attention. Thanks for the awesome reminder. Jenny

  10. MRW, I understand your question. I had the same thought as I started writing this article. Then it hit me. In business, and in life, we can have a broad idea of where we want to go without knowing exactly how we’re going to get there (or with whom, where and what it looks like). In my view, this should be okay because once we get into the work the answer for the next step will come to us. I realize there will be nuances and exceptions, depending on the situation. For me, it’s simply a philosophy on life.

  11. Great perspective 🙂

  12. Awesome post! Thank you so much!

  13. I like to think of myself as someone who always has great expectations. I also like to think of myself as a person who doesn’t let themselves get too bummed when/if those expectations aren’t met. I am the eternal optimist. I like having something to look forward to.

    Doesn’t mean I abandon the future either. My whole writing style is about going with the flow and seeing where the story leads you.

  14. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve learning day by day that just going with ‘my flow’ is the best for me.

  15. It is the only way to live and be truly happy.

  16. It’s amazing, I had a similar conversation with a friend recently. We sometimes put to much pressure on ourselves by having great expectations of what our life should be… living in the moment is wonderful and quite frankly less stressful. Thank you for the reminder to have more peace in our lives????

Join the Discussion...

%d bloggers like this: