What do you do when your expectations aren’t met? When nothing went according to (her) plan, Jami learned a valuable lesson . . .

Some years ago, as I interviewed for a new job overseas, I was flown cross-country on a direct flight with my preferred airline to the company’s U.S. headquarters. That seemed completely normal to me. In my previous job I had traveled extensively across the country, always on direct flights with one airline carrier . . . so my expectations for this trip mirrored my past experiences.

Once I was hired, the company provided training meant to prepare me for the differences I’d experience in my new position and designed to help increase my adaptability. I received my airline reservations for the training only to discover—with horror!—that I would have to drive three hours to my departing city, fly through two other cities with layovers in both airports, then land in a city an hour away from my final destination.  I would then be picked up at the airport by total strangers who had volunteered to get me to the training location.

I was perplexed. Why didn’t I have a direct flight this time? I could see driving to my departing city as I had moved from a large metroplex to a smaller city that did not have the best airport options.  But to have multiple layovers and then not even land in my final destination was a mystery to me. My destination city had an airport—but for some unknown reason I didn’t get to fly there.

To say that I was annoyed would be an understatement. (Not my proudest moment.) But I didn’t want to rock the boat with my new employer, so I tried to be a big girl and have a good attitude. Which I (half-heartedly) did . . . until I arrived at the final airport, but my luggage did not. It was the end of a long day. I was hot, tired, and cranky about the whole situation. All I could think was, “If they had just flown me direct, this never would have happened!”

The entire day of travel—and with all those layovers, it took an entire day—I was focused on me. What was good for me. Convenient for me. Comfortable for me.

What I did not realize was that my training actually began with that crazy schedule and long, hard day of travel. It was planned as my first lesson in letting go of my comfort, convenience, and preferences—because the developing country I would be living and working in would require that of me, and more.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t like it when my expectations are not met. We like things to remain the way we understand and expect them to be, don’t we? Even when we’re told ahead of time that something will change or be different, deep down inside, we still expect it to be what we think it will be.

But change often serves a purpose: it helps us learn and grow . . . if we’re open to learning and growing. Change allows us to get outside of ourselves, to gain a new perspective. Change often gives us a bigger, better experience than we would have had if our expectations had all been met.

As it turned out, my travel adventure resulted in new friends—those “strangers” who picked me up at the airport didn’t stay strangers for long—and excellent preparation for the real challenges ahead. Giving up my expectations resulted in my being given a gift in return: a new attitude and a better outlook on life.