I pulled up to the four-way stop a couple of seconds before the driver on my right, who briefly slowed and gunned it right through. I stared in annoyance at how someone could violate not only the rules of the road, but general etiquette, and worse, how they could do it to me. Once I took myself out of it, I realized that the incident cost me at most five seconds and I chose to leave my resentment behind.

Anne Lamott in her new book “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope,” writes: “Expectations are resentments under construction.” That sentence has had a remarkable impact on me. I see how expectations affect me, but I also see it every day with clients. Here are a couple of ideas on how to handle things before the resentment builds. 

If you are working with your spouse or partner on how you choose to spend your money, drop the expectation that you share the same values. Resentment builds because of the story you create around your partner’s spending. There is a sizable gap between expectations and agreements. And silence does not constitute agreement. Agreements should also not be reached through compromise, that represents giving up something, but through collaboration, which is working together for a desired result. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but you do have to brainstorm effectively together. Once you each agree on something, then you can have fruitful discussions instead of things going off the rails. If you make your discussions about the agreements, you have a better likelihood of getting things back on track. If the agreements are simply not happening, then maybe they weren’t agreements in the first place, but simply a way to placate the other partner.

Another area where expectations can lead to resentments is with investing. When markets are volatile, you can watch your investments drop. But don’t resent the market. First, look at your process. There are four decisionmaking quadrants: good process, good outcome; good process, bad outcome; bad process, good outcome; and bad process, bad outcome. If you jumped on the bitcoin train at $1,000 and rode it to $20,000 before getting off, you had a bad process and good outcome. If you are regularly buying into the stock market with a diversified portfolio and have lost money for the year, you had a good process, but a bad outcome. Eventually the good process leads to the right outcomes.

We all have expectations, but coming to a complete stop before resentment strikes leads to better outcomes.

Spend your life wisely.


Ross Levin is the chief executive and founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.