When Things Don’t Turn Out How You Thought They Would

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How did I get here? You have likely asked yourself this question before. For the most part, we all set out in our younger years with an idea of how things would pan out professionally and personally. Even if you didn’t know exactly what your plan was, you probably had a rough idea.

Now, back to the present. Think for a moment about where you are today. What you’re doing professionally. What your personal life looks like. Are you where your younger self thought you would be? Or did you end up taking a different path than you imagined?

I assure you, things always work out the way they’re supposed to. You are where you are for a reason, as a result of your past decisions, actions, and experiences.

If your path was nontraditional according to societal norms, you are not alone. Everybody has their own journey! Don’t be thrown off if things didn’t turn out the way you hoped or expected them to.

Christine Hassler, life coach and speaker, coined the term Expectation Hangover, referring to the disappointment and other negative reactions we experience. According to Hassler, there are three main categories of expectation hangovers we can fall into:

Situational – Something doesn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, or we don’t get the satisfaction we thought we would from a particular result.

Interpersonal – We are let down by someone else, or we’re unpleasantly surprised by their actions.

Self-imposed – We don’t live up to the standards or expectations we’ve set for ourselves.

If you have experienced an expectation hangover (I think we all have), you’ve likely felt one or more of these symptoms: lack of motivation, lethargy, anxiety, anger, regret, depression, physical discomfort, confusion, self-judgment, shame, denial and faith crises. When you fall into a rut and are experiencing these feelings, it is miserable.

To get out of the rut and recover from your expectation hangover, you can follow a few tips to get back to a better place:

1. Feel all the feelings

It’s common to tuck unwanted feelings away, deep enough so you never consciously process them, instead letting them fester and appear when you least want them to. Try something different. Allow yourself to dig in and feel all the feelings. Be present and take time to process how you feel about your current situation and the way things panned out. Get angry, be sad, feel ashamed and guilty. Take some time to feel whatever it is you need to feel!

2. Let go of your disappointment and guilt

Once you’ve processed those deep feelings, it’s time to let go. The best way to consciously do this is to sit down and write about what’s making you feel the way you do. Get into the details, writing out your thoughts and your beliefs surrounding your current situation. After doing this, think about what you learned about yourself and the situation, and how you would like to do things differently in the future. Let go of your current disappointment and guilt and look forward.

3. Self-reflect and adjust

When you’re feeling disappointed or guilty, it’s easy to feel paralyzed or behave in ways you don’t necessarily want to. When this is happening, spend a week watching your behavior and actions as if you are an outsider looking in. Pay attention to your habits, your unhealthy actions and behaviors, and the way you talk to yourself. Then, take what you have seen and work on a plan to improve your behaviors, setting yourself up for a better future.

Expectations can be a good thing, but in some cases, they can also set us up for disappointment. When this happens, view your disappointments as an opportunity to make changes and create a better future for yourself.


If you want to set yourself up for the best success professionally, chat with a CoreCounts Consultant about the options we have for team training!

*Book recommendation – Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life by Christine Hassler

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