Are Your Expectations Part of the Problem?


Practical Travel Wisdom

In this photo I'm standing in front an ancient Venetian fountain in Zadar, Croatia just a ferry ride across the Adriatic from Italy. It was a great trip, but very different from what I expected to experience when I planned it. So I had to make daily adjustments to differences that, although not terrible, differed significantly from my expectations and what I wanted to experience.

Normally, when I travel I keep my expectations much more open-ended. That way I step into the unknown with curiosity and a genuine sense of exploration and discovery. This time I returned to Croatia with more of an agenda. Even though my natural flexibility enabled me to "go with the flow" of changes I experienced, I was very conscious of the extra energy it took to manage my expectations along the way. Next time, when I return to Croatia, I'll make sure my expectations are set in their normal travel mode. That will free me to have an even better time there, and elsewhere.

Travel requires us to manage our expectations so they don't become part of the problem that confronts us. Clearly, we cannot control flight delays or cancellations, the availability of food and comfort at airports, or when hotel accommodations fall short of website descriptions. What we can control, however, is what we expect from these experiences and how we make adjustments when they don't measure up to our expectations. 

Travel invites us to explore and discover ways to navigate the unknown and deal effectively with unexpected change. When we adapt, we see ways to become part of the solution we seek.

A Useful 'Playful Practice'

For years, I have relied on a useful practice I call "shifting to neutral." Deciding to remain calm and not react to potentially irritating disruptions helps me navigate with relative ease a mirage of domestic and international security checkpoints, long lines at ticket counters and customs, unexpected flight delays, and unfamiliar airports.

This quiet practice of "shifting to neutral" also could help you regain a sense of inner balance—emotionally and mentally—in business, leadership and life. It starts with recognizing what you can and cannot control. Then, when a person or situation begins to upset you, you immediately disconnect from that irritating or disappointing energy by imagining yourself pulling the cable and plug (through which that negative energy is moving toward you) out of its power source. This drains off the energy—dissipating its effect on you. It frees you to remain calm, centered and clear. 

Practice "shifting to neutral" and notice whether it works for you. Like my clients, discover how this simple 'playful practice' helps you to maintain a sense of inner balance even when dealing with difficult people or situations. That way, navigating change becomes less of an energy drain and more manageable.

In these radically challenging times, I think you will agree these skills are invaluable—whether you are traveling or not.