There is a local restaurant where my wife and I occasionally dine. A nice feature of this restaurant is that they allow you to create custom salads and entrees from a list of ingredients. We often create salads, choosing the greens, toppings, and dressing.
Creating custom salads and entrees is a bit more challenging for kitchen staff because they don’t know what is right because they have made it a thousand times. Instead, each time is unique. This requires having a process to ensure that the food items are created per their customers’ requests.
Some of their locations seem to do this well. Unfortunately, at the location closest to our home, they seem to have a difficult time making my salad according to my specifications. And, if mine is correct, it seems someone else’s meal has an error.
I have come to expect that they will make mistakes when making my salad. Even when it appears that they’ve made it correctly, I usually spend the entire time looking for the mistake. If there isn’t one, I will still find a flaw. I might say something like, “Well, it has all the right ingredients but they put too much salad dressing on the salad.” I try to mold reality into meeting my expectations..
The restaurant is usually good about fixing the mistakes. However, the errors are annoying because the rhythm of the dining experience is thrown off. My entrée sometimes ends up arriving before I get the correct salad. Other times, one person is eating while the other is waiting.
After this happened several times, I wondered if there was a connection between my expectations and the errors occurring in the kitchen. As such, I tried setting expectations beforehand that the kitchen staff would correctly make my salad. This seemed to help improve, but not completely eliminate, the issues with my meal.
It does make me question, however, how much my expectations result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Thus, I started working on setting positive expectations to see if I could observe results from my expectations. Recently, I have focused on positive expectations regarding close parking spaces and avoiding traffic congestion. So far, having these positive expectations seem to help me be successful in achieving my intent.
It doesn’t really matter if I am actually experiencing these positive results or it’s just my perception. By connecting these positive expectations with my results, I am creating a healthy self-fulfilling prophecy. As I expand these positive expectations to the rest of my life, I can experience a major life shift.