Managing Expectations.

Managing Expectations

Vince Lombardi said we achieve excellence by chasing perfection. Definitely, but we also mess up by getting expectations out of line with what’s realistic or possible. I recount meetings where I thought everything went perfectly. I had done all that I could to present the full value of my project, program or myself. Leaving the room, I reveled in the smiles and acclamations. It wasn’t until later that reality hit. Issues I hadn’t thought of, planned for or in cases, couldn’t control for drove the decision to go against me.

Walking that line between expecting the best while preparing for the worst is not easy. I was surprised at how much I had to readjust my expectations even after I received the good news that my lymphoma was in remission.

From Tom’s journal–Fortifications for a cancer Journey*

“This is the day I’ve waited for since beginning chemotherapy 6 months ago. No balloons or Champagne corks flew, however, as Dr. F stated matter of factly, “Well, scans are good, you’re in full remission.” This was the goal from day one so I should be jumping up and down. Not sure what I was hoping for. I guess, “You now have perfect health and you’ll live as long as you want, never worrying about anything again!

Back to earth. I continue with a “maintenance plan” and there’s uncertainty and work ahead. But as I gather myself over this page, I am happy. I am relieved. I am strong. And yes, I have found meaning and focus from this experience—and will continue to.”

Thomas Merton, that prolific, social activist monk from the 1950s and 60s chimes in as he usually does. As Merton believed he was being called to head a new monastery in Central America, his superiors saw otherwise. He eventually realized his true calling—to stay and continue at Gethsemane, his home monastery in Kentucky. But he wasn’t happy about it. His biographers, Patrick Hart and Jonathan Montaldo said it well in their introduction to The Intimate Merton.

“He surrendered himself to the slow heart work of seeking his faith one day at a time and one night at a time in the place where his eyes opened and shut. He got up and fell down, he got up and fell down, and he got up over and over again.”

That’s all of us. We keep falling and getting up over and over. It’s a hard, good life. Having loved ones to share it with and a faith where some strength and guidance can be found make all the difference.


Reflect on the lessons learned from both the successes and failures in your job seeking. What will you keep doing the same because you know in your heart it’s effective and consistent with who you are? And what will you change? Make a list of what resources you will collect in order to make these changes.

*Tom was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in summer of 2012. Following 6 months of chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission and continues so as of this date. These writings are intended to draw connections between Tom’s experiences with this disease and challenges related to work/career transitions.

Thomas Bachhuber, Ed.D., President of the Board and Executive DirectorThomas Bachhuber, Ed.D.
President of the Board and Executive Director for The Center for Life Transitions. Tom is responsible for overall Center leadership and strategy. His individual coaching/counseling as well as workshops and retreats focus on integrating leading career development ideas with spiritual exploration. Read more.