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MAY 2020 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 31 products. Since I was brand new to the com- pany and didn't even have computer access yet, I couldn't figure out why I was being asked about a product that I had never seen before. I guess that they just wanted a fresh pair of eyes on it, but for me, the effect went much further beyond simply giving my opin- ion. I realized that I was in a work culture that wanted and encouraged my participation. This sent a very clear message to me that I had value, and the company's expectations of me were to be an active part of the corporate pro- cess and workflow. That moment still lingers in my memory as being a pivotal point in my growth as a designer and becoming part of a productive team. The lesson here is that these kinds of expec- tations—to grow, ask questions, and be part of the team—result in freeing up people to operate at their best and take the initiative in their careers. On the other hand, expectations set around unrealistic goals do just the oppo- site; they tear down a person's confidence and self-esteem, making it much more difficult for them to be willing to take the steps and risks needed to expand and grow in their profes- sional careers. It is safe to say that negative expectations—whether they are unobtainable, unrealistic, or ambiguous—should be avoided at all costs. We shouldn't put them on anyone else, nor should we accept them from others. It's just better for business that way. The next question, though, is, "Are we putting negative expectations like that on ourselves without realizing it?" Just as being blamed by a co-worker for not meeting their ambiguous or unrealistic expec- tations can create stress, you may be doing the same thing to yourself without knowing it. There are so many different ways that we can set ourselves up for this negative expectation trap that it would be impossible to list them all here. Instead, let's turn this around and look at it from the other direction. Here are five ideas on what kind of positive expectations that we could set for ourselves: 1. Trust your qualifications: It can be easy to slip into doubt, especially when the going gets tough. Remember, though, that you were hired for your job because of what you can do, and you should expect your- self to live up to those qualities. 2. Own your job: Don't be content to merely do your job; own it. Make sure that you know your responsibilities in and out and expect yourself to succeed. 3. Stay on target: Be careful about becoming lackadaisical in what you do. Set expectations for yourself to maintain a consistent level of performance and excellence. 4. Forgive yourself: No matter what, you will probably make some mistakes along the way. It can be easy to dwell on those problems and derail your motivation and momentum. Set an expectation that you will forgive yourself in order to learn from those mistakes and move on. 5. Believe in yourself: I hate to sound like a greeting card here, but believing and expecting that you will succeed and perservering is an important foundation for any successful career. Conclusion We all have expectations in our jobs that have to be met for success, and more than likely, we are going to encounter ambiguous and unreal- istic expectations as well. But we can choose how to respond to these by communicating with those we work with and setting clearly defined objectives and goals. Don't let negative expectations drive you. Instead, grab the wheel firmly and take control over those expectations so that you can drive them. Stay safe, everyone, and keep on designing. DESIGN007 Tim Haag writes technical, thought- leadership content for First Page Sage on his longtime career as a PCB designer and EDA technologist. To read past columns or contact Haag, click here.

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