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  • Dr. Russ Reinbolt

Expectations? Don't Have Them!

I am as guilty of it as anyone. It’s basic human nature.  And we all do it:  We set expectations. However, I strongly contend that this is a recipe for disaster in many cases. Of course, responsible people plan for certain outcomes. But they do not automatically expect that outcome. There is a difference between planning and expecting. That point must be emphasized.I have learned both in the field of medicine and in ultra’s that expecting a certain outcome can lead to great disappointment and frustration.

Here are a few examples:

I’ve expected a patient to improve clinically after a certain treatment only for the opposite to occur.

In countless extreme ultramarathons, I expected to arrive at a long-awaited checkpoint, only to find that it was another five or ten miles further. (That’s emotional torture in Ultra’s!)

Toward the end of busy and taxing ER night shifts, I repeatedly fall into the trap of thinking “Finally, it’s going to slow down,” only to have multiple patients come in, often for non-emergencies.

Before I got married several life chapters ago, I expected relationships to progress positively, only for a few to turn sour (that’s a polite way of putting it!) because of factors beyond my control.  (In two separate cases, a girl I was dating returned from a summer trip a completely different person and “wanted to make some changes in her life.”  Definitely not what I expected before they left! Because of my expectations, I had set myself up to be heartbroken…and I was.

In my business of Emergency Medicine, our treatment usually fixes a problem, often when a patient’s life is on the line. However, we ER doctors always think of many other outcomes and have multiple backup plans, in case the unexpected happens.

As loyal readers of my blog know, I love analogies. So, here’s another: Aircraft pilots have contingency plans for all possible scenarios.

Therefore, in your life, be a pilot! BE PREPARED for the unexpected. Better yet, don’t have expectations at all!



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