Expectancy vs Expectations

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“_____ is the new ______.”

– an ever-advancing cliche in a world riddled with ever-advancing cliches

So, 40 was the new 30, and 50 was the new 40…

Yeah, I get it, age is just a number.  Yet, as business types, we’re wired to care about numbers.  To plan for them and to plan based upon them.  To strive for them and use them to determine how well we’re doing or how far we’ve got to go.  “I’ve probably got about 10 good years to pile it on,” a friend recently told me at the funeral of another friend, ironically.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story claiming that the average life expectancy for a US adult, after nearly 20 years of advancing, had settled back a year and a half to the levels that were evident in 2003.  Influenced by the effects of COVID?  Yes, but not as the sole driver.  For lots of reasons, including the advancing age of the most privileged and potentially least responsible generation in history (yes, Boomers, that would be us…), we managed to shorten the expectation of our longevity by about 18 months in the past 12.  More broadly, considering the entire US population, Americans can now expect to live until age 77.3 (80 for women, just over 74 for men…).

But can we?  Can we expect to live until _______?  Should we?  Should we expect to live or should we decide to live?

What about the proverbial bus or train?  What about that piece of landing gear that ended up in the middle of a fairway on a golf course in Maine?  (The way I’ve been hitting it, I’d have been safe, unless the landing gear had fallen about 43 yards right or left of the fairway….but I digress…)

Should we expect to live, or should we decide to live?  Deciding to make the most of today, of the next hour — heck, of the next ten minutes — seems a better plan than trying to back my way into a bucket list to cover the next 14.7 years.

There is no guarantee of tomorrow, or even later today.

What if we focused on expectations rather than expectancy?  Investing in and managing relationships as a higher priority than making plans that ultimately hinge on the relationships that often get neglected in making and executing plans.

We need to sell $__________ of widgets by the end of the quarter.  We need to cut expenses by $_________ by the time the budget closes.  Retirement plans, growth plans, acquisition plans — expectations will be better drivers than expectancies will be indicators of success.

 


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