Great Expectations: 5 Tips for Avoiding Disappointment (Holidays and Beyond)

“Expect the worst, hope for the best, and you’ll never be disappointed.”

-Doug Duncan (at least that’s where I heard it)

You could essentially close up this blog right now, seeing as I just gave you the best advice of your entire life. That’s right, I’m full of wisdom and am incredibly humble. Notice the phrase didn’t come from me? I’m still trying to implement this logic and wisdom in my own life (in other words, I’m not truly that arrogant).

The Problem:

The holidays always seem to bring out the anxiety in us, don’t they? I don’t stress much anymore about the holidays, but I am constantly having trouble with my expectations. Not only are my expectations too high, but I also allow myself to be disappointed when things don’t go the way I allowed myself to expect they would. See my problem? I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I’d share some wisdom from others I’ve learned (and am still learning) to put into practice.

The List:

  • Be Flexible!!! I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist, people. Things don’t have to be perfect, right on time, whatever. It’s going to be okay. If you leave your plans open (reasonably), you won’t be stressed waiting for people or trying to do everything right. During the holidays especially, flexibility is a must. On the other side of the coin, if you are rigid about everything, you’ll be disappointed. Because, honey, it’s gonna get messy, someone’s gonna be late, you’re not gonna have every ingredient, and you’re not gonna please everyone. Let it go.
  • Expect the Worst. I know this seems odd, because you want to think the best of everyone. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, right? WRONG. Okay, don’t be a jerk, but geez, everyone isn’t perfect all the time (unless you’re me…). It’s actually kind of a fun game to play, to see how many surprises or blessings you get when you expect the worst. Don’t be a pessimist, but be almost less than realistic in your expectations. Expect that NO ONE will be on time, but also expect SOMEONE will show up early. Expect that SOMETHING will not be cooked right, on time, or seasoned to perfection. Expect a kid might break something, throw up, poo themselves. Expect someone to get in a heated political discussion (just have your popcorn ready this year especially). I mean, these are expectations you should probably have every day.
  • Hope for the Best! While you’re expecting these worsts, also hope for the best! I know, it seems contradictory. But, if you expect the worst and don’t also at least hold on to hope that it will all be okay, you will dramatically “die” from anxiety, stress, an emotional aneurysm, or mental breakdown. I’m just giving it to you straight; without hope, we’re doomed. So, hope that your carpet doesn’t end up with cranberry sauce all over it, or at least that it’s able to be cleaned up. Hope that people show up, that it will be a good time, and that you still have friends and family left after it’s over. Hope for the best.
  • Leave the Alcohol out of it! Seriously, alcohol makes everything worse. People use it as an excuse to say whatever (blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-a-alcohol), and be rude or obnoxious. Ask yourself this question: can I tell when I’m buzzed or drunk (really)? Let’s just say, I know from experience and from research that ya can’t. And it’s so not worth it. Plus, drunk/buzzed driving is stupid and too many people die each year from accidents caused by it. Don’t be stupid. Don’t drink and drive, or rather, don’t drink at all. #justsayin
  • Prepare Yourself. Whatever you can get done the day before, the night before, the morning of, or even the week before, do it. Make the day of easy. Leave buffer time so you can do last minute preparations, changes if necessary, and maybe even have a nap before the festivities begin. Most importantly, take time to pray ahead of your day. Wake up early and pray a blessing over the day. Pray for the event, for the attendees, and for peace to reign throughout. Go over your list of gratitude with the Lord for what He has done. Recite, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:24) You might have to repeat that to yourself throughout the day (remember, expectations). Pray a prayer against offenses. Pray the peace of God rules in your heart (Col 3). Put your armor on. (Eph 6)

A Few Final Notes:

Understand that each day you have choices to make: be offended or let it go, hold a grudge or be a peacemaker, allow stress in or don’t let anxiety gain a foothold, be prepared or procrastinate. These are just a few. Others might be: lash out irrationally at what someone says to upset you or breathe through it and smile at the jerkface, be mad that you didn’t get thanked for all you’ve done or know that God has seen it all, grumble while you wash the mountain of dishes or praise God you have family and friends to make such a mess – you could be alone! Yes, there are things that will happen out of your control, but you ARE in control of how you respond or react to the pressure, the stress, the crazy.

Don’t let high expectations ruin your holiday (or your regular Tuesday for that matter). Rest knowing God sees all, knows all, and loves you. Remember that the only hope that truly doesn’t disappoint is Christ and His love and salvation, “for the love of God is poured out” in your heart. (Romans 5:3-5) Rejoice in tribulation – even if it’s a holiday event you’re not looking forward to. Don’t forget to tell someone about Jesus this holiday season. We have much to be grateful for, especially His sacrifice on the cross for our many sins. We serve a risen Savior and great High Priest who is able to empathize with our every pain. Give Him your expectations and your hopes and desires. Let Him decide what is right. He knows the plans He has for you. Silence your heart and mind, and let your hope be in Him alone.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.”

Psalm 62:5

Happy Thanksgiving! May you be blessed beyond measure and at peace this season.

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