Where aspirations exceed expectations

William Howard Stein said, “Keep high aspirations, moderate expectations, and small needs.” And we couldn’t agree with him more. If only we understood the difference between aspiring and expecting, our lives would become so much simpler and stress free.  We firmly believe that expectations chain your growth as an individual because it traps you in the vicious circle of what the outcome will be whereas aspirations give you wings; for the sky is your limit.

Expectations and aspirations, within sociological frameworks, are stable prejudiced thoughts composed of specific beliefs about one’s way of living and future trajectory. These expectations and aspirations are presumed to condition our behavior and, in the process, they become our vision for the future. But surely there must be a difference in expecting and aspiring?

Expectations are sometimes distinguished from aspirations in theory. Where expectations are referred to as the calculated anticipations; aspirations become the dreams that are waiting to be fulfilled. Research proves that expectations are usually selfish and although aspirations are also mostly at the personal level it is usually of a larger spectrum. To give an example here, let’s talk about the expectations and aspirations of students. When asked “Do you plan to go to college?’ they are expected to say a “Yes” and that is mostly their answer but when asked, “How far do you intend to go in college or what do you want to be in life?” The answers they give are their aspirations in life.

Expectations are dependent on someone else whereas aspirations are personal and hence we do not feel resentment when they are not fulfilled. Take an outsider’s look at your life. How much do you expect and what do you aspire to? Expecting is easy, we expect respect, love, good salaries, and all the pleasures of life but how many of us actually aspire for it?  Once you drop expectations you will see the calmness in you and your work will become more productive. It will not be mechanized and will be driven by “I want to…” and not “I have to”. This will reinforce the faith that appreciation will follow when aspirations are realized and that is the true reward for a peaceful existence. Drop the expectations, it can possess you like a dark cloud and create obstacles in your path but with aspirations, you can ‘gloss over’ the obstacles.    

As we embark on the sojourn titled 2021, waiting in anticipation with its blank pages to be filled with experiences, thoughts, and stories, it is important for us to introspect what we aspire for. The year gone has left us with a few lessons, made us think and appreciate the little joys of life. But it is crucial than ever before to set the aspirations for a fulfilling life high and keep a check on the expectations from others and yourself.

May 2021 be enriching for all!