“What did you expect?”
That’s the question psychologist Carl Pickhardt asked his patient after he came in angry that he didn’t get a good paying job a year after graduating from college. In their session, Pickhardt tried to make the young man understand thatÂ he put himself in his current position.Â Even though he had thought about his future after college, were the expectations he set for himself realistic?
Like most grads, he wantedÂ a career that aligned with his new degree, that paid well, and that gave him the comfortable life he expected a college grad to have. Pickhardt explainedÂ there were two ways an expectation could turn out, and the patient was dealing with the less appealing option.Â Expectations are mental constructs that help guide us by anticipating changes ahead. If you have some idea about what is coming next, you can prepare yourself for the transition, so even if the outcome isn’t ideal, it doesn’t sting as bad because you anticipated its arrival. However, what happens whenÂ you get theÂ unexpected instead? You experience emotions like the young grad — anxiety anger, confusion –because you didn’tÂ anticipate that anything elseÂ could happen besides your ideal.
Pickhardt told the patient he had two problems. One, he needed to choose how he was going to move on, and two, he needed to get rid of the burden of having expectations set too high.Â Expectations are chosen, they’re notÂ genetic. When you set unrealistic expectations, youÂ are more likely to be “violated by reality.” But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream. Set your goals high, expect the most out of life –Â butÂ do it inÂ reality.Â TheÂ new grad realized he had set himself up for failure, andÂ now that things weren’t going according to plan, he wasÂ wastng his energy beingÂ angry about it instead of adjusting his outlook. Pickhardt helped him realize it’s very realistic he could eventually work in his field, make a decent wage, andÂ live a good life, but first he had to land a job, work his way up in the company, and probably financially struggle until that point.
Yesterday I wrote a blog, “4 Reasons You Should Get an Internship This Summer,” where I shared the stat thatÂ employers extended job offers to 72.6% of their interns last year. Students should be self-advocates, whether it’s making the decisionÂ to sit at the front of the class where they learn best or to increase their work load this semesterÂ byÂ registering for an internship. Â While it is important to be confident, it is equally important to develop competence which is based on specific actions you takeâ€”in class, in activities you are a part, in volunteer contributions and through workâ€”to demonstrate that you can deliver quality outcomes through quality actions.Â Â By the time you graduate, or spend time in your first job think about how you can balance both confidence and competence.Â If you do, you will be realistic about your own expectations and they will match your competence levels as well as your track record.
“Adolescence and expectations about college graduation” -Â http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201106/adolescence-and-expectations-about-college-graduation