Setting expectations is fairly easy for most of us. Meeting them consistently, though? Well, that varies with the individual. As an entrepreneur, I’ve had to master the “setting goals and meeting them” game. It’s been one of the best things for my relationships with clients. Here are a few things I’ve found that help foster successful goal-planning and execution.

Set A-B-C Expectations

I read somewhere that setting expectations gets easier when you consider A-B-C results. Creating goals that are achievable, believable and capable will make upcoming tasks much easier to accomplish. I promise it works, and it will be very powerful once you start utilizing this simple idea.

Let’s say your co-workers need a document and ask when you can submit it to them. Consider what’s achievable, believable and within your capabilities before committing to a day or time. If your day is packed, and if it works for your teammates, extend the deadline to a time that won’t interfere with your agenda. Setting expectations based only on your teammates’ needs can set them up for disappointment – and broken trust. While broken trust isn’t irreparable, it’s very difficult to mend, particularly in professional arenas. Your word will either be everything to someone or it will be nothing. ABC expectations can help yours be the former.

Underpromise and Over-deliver

This tip for setting expectations parallels A-B-C expectations, and I use it with ALL of my clients. Realize that Murphy’s Law is always potentially in effect. Any and all plans can be unintentionally impacted at any given moment. As such, make sure that you give yourself more time than you need to get things accomplished. Even if you won’t need it, it’s better to give yourself some wiggle room for whatever you need to do.

In my profession, flexibility is key, especially when it comes to project deadlines. Some clients, however, aren’t as flexible as I’d like them to be. So, when I give them projections for timelines, I always – ALWAYS – build in time for unforeseen issues to occur. Inevitably, a delivery will be late, something will malfunction, or weather will not cooperate. I’ve learned to not stress about these things happening because I anticipate them before quoting clients. What does this look like? Even if I a project will take two weeks, I build in a week or two extra to ensure I have time to handle any problems that may occur. If the project is done earlier than quoted, clients are extremely happy. I, in turn, build further trust with them and develop a stronger, positive rapport for my brand. I never want to let anyone down, and I don’t want to let myself down, either. This tip helps me avoid both!

Hold Yourself Accountable

Perhaps the biggest tip for effectively setting expectations is doing what you say you’re going to do. Hold yourself accountable to the commitments you make. It’s the baseline for trust in both personal and professional relationships. And, it’s one of the oldest and most effective ways to build personal character and develop great networks.

So many people have been disappointed because professional partners or friends negated to follow through on a promise or goal. Again, when that trust is habitually broken or lost, it can be difficult to regain it. Do whatever it takes. There are so many tools at your access to help if you need them. I set frequent reminders for some things, jot things down in planners, and even have assistants to remind me of priority items. No, I don’t have a problem remembering. However, it is extremely important to me that I follow through with all I commit to doing. Having a few backup reminders to keep things on track has only helped me meet all of the expectations I set for myself.

Setting expectations and meeting them doesn’t have to be difficult. It does have to be intentional, though. Only you can control what you do or don’t do. Set yourself up for success with these tips, and find yourself in a much happier, more accomplished position in your career and personal life!

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