As I continually face the problem of ERG or the Expectation Reality Gap, I have learned how important it is to navigate through the 10 steps to aligning my expectations to reality. Everyday, I put expectations on my life, God and others and other people put expectations on me. It can be difficult to Navigate the gap between expectations and reality if we don’t stop and pause and see what is happening. Here’s a detailed outline and summary of how to identify and manage the Expectation Reality Gap (ERG) effectively using 10 Steps:
1) Acknowledge the Gap Exists
Summary: The first step is recognizing that there is, in fact, a disparity between what was expected and what has occurred. This gap can cause emotional turmoil or confusion if not identified.
Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.”
Application: This verse teaches us that not all paths we think are correct will lead to a fulfilling life. Acknowledge that there may be a gap between your expectations and reality.
2) Locate the Source of the Gap
Summary: Determine where these expectations are rooted. Are they self-imposed, projected onto others, or do they come from societal pressures? Understanding the source makes it easier to address the gap.
James 4:1-3: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”
Application: This scripture prompts us to examine the root of our desires and expectations, helping us locate the source of any gap we experience.
3) Evaluate the Realism and Alignment with God’s Will
Summary: Not all expectations are realistic or align with a spiritual perspective. Take time to prayerfully consider if these expectations are in accordance with God’s plan for your life.
Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Application: Test and evaluate your expectations to see if they align with God’s will and not worldly pressures.
4) Communicate Expectations
Summary: Have these expectations been communicated to the people involved? If they are not made clear, the gap may widen due to misunderstandings or assumptions.
Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
Application: The importance of clear communication is underscored here. Be honest and clear about your expectations.
5) Ensure Mutual Understanding
Summary: Verify that the expectations have not only been communicated but are also understood by everyone involved. This can prevent unnecessary conflicts or misaligned goals.
Proverbs 4:7: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”
Application: Wisdom isn’t enough; understanding is crucial. Make sure that your expectations are not just communicated but understood.
6) Discussion Opportunity
Summary: Before forging ahead, allow space for open dialogue about these expectations. This can bring new perspectives and may even help refine what those expectations should be.
Proverbs 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Application: Before moving forward with any expectations, seek counsel and allow open discussions for a well-rounded view.
7) Agreement on Appropriateness
Summary: Is there mutual agreement that these expectations are reasonable and attainable? If there’s disagreement, this is the time to refine or reset expectations.
Amos 3:3: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
Application: Make sure there is mutual agreement on what the expectations are, to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
8) Plan for Unmet Expectations
Summary: Discuss the potential outcomes if the expectations are not met. Having a plan can mitigate negative feelings and provide a pathway for resolution.
Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Application: Make your plans but be aware that they might not always unfold as you expect. Trust that God will guide you.
9) Extend Grace When ERG Occurs
Summary: When the gap is evident, the first step is to extend grace, both to yourself and others involved. Use it as an opportunity to learn and readjust, rather than a moment for blame or self-criticism.
Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Application: When expectations aren’t met, extend grace and forgiveness as your first response.
10) Continual Re-evaluation and Adjustment
Summary: Managing ERG is an ongoing process. Regularly re-evaluate expectations in light of new experiences, information, and spiritual guidance. Be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.
Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Application: Continually bring your expectations, plans, and the gaps you experience to God in prayer for re-evaluation and adjustment.
As we look to apply these 10 Steps we can begin to see the opportunity to be reminded to lean into trusting God and His plan. Our Circumstances are not always, or even not often turn out how “WE” planned, but this doesn’t change Who God is. God’s goodness isn’t determined by our circumstances. Spend time pausing and praying when you let out an “ERG!” and you feel discouraged, disappointed, or frustrated.