Expectation Debt

debtI know I have not been blogging as regularly as I should.  I have the usual excuses:  holidays, Christmas, New Year, laziness, procrastination and existential crises.  With the New Year also came the time for the inevitable cyclical New Year’s resolutions.  I say cyclical because for most people, their resolutions stay the same from year to year.  You want to protest that statement, but think about it carefully.  Weight loss, better living, better listener, better husband, better wife, language learning, realizing some business idea, implementing some new life strategy, reading more, and on and on it goes.  It’s the human condition, don’t feel bad about it.  To be sure, some people do follow through on their resolutions.  Me?  I just repeat them.  Recycling is the way of the future 😉

In considering this issue of resolutions and new beginnings I realised that the success or failure of this resolution might depend quite a bit on social pressure.  This is not the only factor, just the one I want to focus on.

There is a very fine line between creating some social pressure in order to motivate yourself, and creating expectation debt.  If I want to lose weight as a resolution, and I tell all my friends and family that by April I will have a six-pack abs, it will probably motivate me in some way to achieving that goal.  On the other hand I have created a debt which needs payment come April.  I have created expectation debt (I credit the idea of expectation debt to the New Escapologist).  If you create too much expectation debt, then you create a self-fulfilling crisis.  I am naturally hesitant to create debt.  Debt has never had good public relations.  Too much debt will inevitably make you untrustworthy, because it becomes impossible to pay off.  That is why big talkers are never taken seriously.  They lose the positive effect of motivation from their debt, and people do not hold them to their resolutions, because they are never fulfilling their expectations.

The idea of a self-fulfilling crisis is explained by the example of the stock market.  The theory is that, for example, a financial crisis is not directly caused by unhealthy economic fundamentals, but rather the pessimistic expectations of the investors themselves.  So investors’ fear of the crisis makes the crisis inevitable.  If you create too much expectation debt, and people stop taking you seriously, eventually you stop taking yourself seriously.  It becomes too easy for you not to complete stuff.  By creating expectation debt we fear that we might not complete the task, which is natural, but with too much expectation debt it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you fail.

I have resolved this year to stop talking about all the things I will be doing, and just doing them – for once.