As we entered 2022, I sat down and gathered my thoughts on the new year and listed my goals and resolutions. With new projects, ideas, and significant dates on the horizon, I was—and still am—hopeful for a successful year. What I didn’t expect to enter, however, was yet another unprecedented year.
While “unprecedented” might be the most overworked word of the past two years, it fully applies to what we have been experiencing in the corrugated industry. In the past, we could get board overnight, tooling in just a few days. Pallets, glue, ink, and other supplies were easy to come by and were affordable. Though many of us were busy, it wasn’t uncommon to be able to easily squeeze a hot order into the scheduling lineup. This was our everyday life, and we grew to expect these types of processes and lead times.
Now, it takes two to three weeks just to get board. The lumber shortage made it nearly impossible to get pallets, and worldwide supply chain clogged our means of purchasing other important supplies such as adhesives and machine parts. The use of e-commerce skyrocketed, and with the demand for corrugated products at an all-time high and supplies at record-setting lows, we were—and still are—faced with unprecedented circumstances. This is something we never expected. It is stressful, frustrating, and at times frightening. But for reasons beyond me, we continually apply our expectations of years past to today’s problems. This won’t work anymore.
We are all guilty of setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others. But unrealistic expectations, when unmet, can lead to fear and unrest. We wonder why something happened and what could have been done differently, and we waste too much valuable time and energy thinking of how to solve the problem when the solution is simple. While some expectations of others should be upheld, such as punctuality, open communication, and honesty, abolishing unrealistic expectations leads to inner peace and strengthened relationships. Below are three simple ways to redesign your expectations as we move forward in 2022.
Move toward empathy. Remember that when an expectation you create is not met by someone, there is likely a good reason (i.e., this person has something going on, personal or professional, that caused them to be unable to accomplish what you subconsciously thought they could). Take this as an opportunity to set aside your ego and reflect on the fact that we are all struggling with something.
Have flexibility. Expectations cannot stay the same year after year in the ever-changing landscape of life. When an expectation of yourself or others no longer serves your lifestyle or experiences, adjust accordingly. We must allow ourselves and others the grace to change and adapt.
Release resentment. It can be painful when an expectation goes unmet, no matter how large or small. Harboring resentment and disappointment, however, never leads to personal growth. Recognize when you have an emotional reaction to an unmet need, then let go and forgive.
In early January, I learned that a close contact at a customer of mine had suddenly passed away due to a heart attack. As shocking as this news was, it reminded me that our time here is limited. It forced me to remember that we are all just people trying to make a go at it and that, generally speaking, we are all doing our best, whatever that may look like. If letting go of our unrealistic expectations of one another truly does lead to peace and strengthened relationships, I recommend letting go now.