Managing Expectations During Times of Uncertainty

We find ourselves in uncertain times facing a situation that’s unprecedented to anyone.

For some, this feels like the apocalypse. It’s not. It is, however, the first time in modern history that an outbreak of this magnitude has threatened the entire globe.

Sure, we’ve lived through epidemics and outbreaks before, and for a vast majority of us, those epidemics have had little impact on our lives or society. Because we’re so used to being unaffected, the media hype felt like another version of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” when stories about COVID-19 started circulating a few months ago.

We’ve learned a lot about this virus in a short period of time, and this is unfolding as a worst-case-scenario. The good news is, we can use tools we wouldn’t normally use, like having expectations, to help us through this.


Begin to shift your expectations. For years, we’ve been taught that expectations ruin joy, and that’s still true. Now, let’s break it down further. When you apply expectations to interpersonal relationships and you expect someone to act in a certain way, then Yes, the practice of expecting will ruin your enjoyment of that person or relationship. When a company makes a promise to us as the consumer, it’s perfectly rational to expect that company to live up to its guarantee. There is a time and a place for expectations. In the chaos we find ourselves, how you choose to expect can be the difference between ease and agony.

We’ve crossed the line into uncertain times, we must learn new ways of being. But before we can learn a new way of being, we must first do things differently. One way to do something differently is to use expectations to your advantage. When used with discernment, expectations can help you maintain your sanity.


  • Now is not the time to expect familiar routines and ways of life

We’ve reached the point of no return. When faced with a situation you cannot control, ruminating and worrying will increase your feelings of depression, panic, and denial. Expect sudden changes to ease their impact on your life.

  • Now is not the time for nostalgia and reminiscing

This is especially true if you’re expecting things to be the way they were when (fill in the blank). Instead, remember all the times you found a way to overcome challenges and adversity. Focus on your resiliency and expect yourself to be as resilient now as you were then.

  • Now is not the time to be self-centered

This isn’t about you. Your situation is everyone’s situation right now, so don’t expect other people to wallow in your sorrows with you. Acknowledge your feelings and move on.

  • Now is not the time to be greedy

In uncertain times, expect more give and take, not just take. We all have something to offer. Even the most vulnerable are contributing by making calls to check on others. Be wary of those who are finding ways to profit from this crisis and avoid becoming one of them. People are vulnerable, and they will remember you if you’re trying to gouge or fleece them in this time of uncertainty.


  1. Expect chaos

Make room for the unknown right now. Unprecedented times require unprecedented measures. Remind yourself that this situation is unprecedented.

  1. Expect your known world to change rapidly

What was true two weeks ago no longer applies, so expect that trend to continue for a while.

  1. Expect your relationships to shift

The people to whom you used to turn to may no longer resonate with you all of a sudden. That’s because people can’t chameleon their way through this crisis. You’ll see everyone’s authentic, true colors; and, they’ll see yours. This will create shifts in the people and communities you choose to associate with.

  1. Expect to devise a plan around how you’ll spend your time

You’ll be tempted with social media, Netflix, and news binges. Create a daily schedule to manage your time while you’re quarantined and stick to it.

  1. Expect to be of service

This isn’t just happening to you; we’re all in this together. We all have unique gifts and talents, and the world needs that right now. What can you contribute? How can you help? A service-based mentality will help you stay sane.

  1. Expect to be vulnerable

At some point, you will need help, supplies, money, support, or something else. The ways we meet our needs have already undergone drastic changes. Someone out there can help you, but they must first know what you need help with. You can help someone with your skill set, but you must first tell us what that skill set is.

  1. Expect the known, developed world to change

We’re experiencing a systemic breakdown of epic proportions. We can’t unsee the flaws that have been exposed, and more will be revealed. This will make way for new systems and policies to emerge that will better serve the collective, not just a small percentage of it. Make room for big, systemic changes.

The sooner you can accept and expect uncertainty, the sooner you’ll experience a sense of ease about what’s happening. Ease is not synonymous comfort. Let go of the need to be comfortable and expect to experience both ease and discomfort simultaneously. If you’ve never been in that space, expect to find it empowering.

Together, we will get through this!

Much love!

– Jennifer

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