Hope or Expect: Will You Accomplish Your Goal?

When you put together your health and fitness goals, do you hope or expect to accomplish them? Is there a difference?

Let's provide some definitions from the dictionary.cambridge.com:

Hope: to want something to happen or to be true.

Expect: to think or believe something will happen.

When I sit down and talk with clients about their goals, I have no doubt how badly the client wants to accomplish them. It is not uncommon for a client to break down crying due to the struggles that they have felt carrying the burden of not accomplishing their goal.

After the client pulls themselves back together, they will continue the discussion with the word hope. "I hope to lose weight" or whatever goal they may have. At that point, I insert the word expect. I ask them, "Do you hope to lose weight or do you expect it?" They are usually taken aback by this comment because they have never thought there was a difference. I ask them a series of questions,

  • When you entered high school, did you hope to graduate or expect it?
  • When you entered college, did you hope to graduate or expect it?
  • If you are a parent, do you hope your child would walk or do you expect it?


Expectations are a mindset. Hope is wishing something to happen. For example, I hope to win the lottery. I have no idea how I could possibly win, especially since I never purchase a lottery ticket. So, my expectations of winning the lottery are extremely low. On the other hand, I do expect myself to accomplish my fitness goals. I expect it because I have a plan. For example, I am performing superset lifts 4x a week, performing HIT (High Intensity Training) 2x per week, consuming a low carb diet (under 80grams per day), etc. in order to decrease my body fat % while simultaneously building muscle mass.

The "true" difference between hope and expect is a plan. With hope, I may want something but I do not have a defined plan to accomplish it. With expectations, I have multiple plans set in motion.

Let's look at another example of the difference between hope and expect. Statisticbrain.com tells us that 8% of Americans achieve their New Years Resolution. forbes.com writes "40% of Americans—make New Year’s resolutions. (For comparison, about one-third of Americans watch the Super Bowl.). The vast majority that did not accomplish their resolution, hoped to accomplish it. I am confident that the 8% that achieve their goals, expected to. I bet the ones who expected their goal but did not succeed, were pretty darn close to accomplishing it.

What are you to do?

When you define your goals, don't hope to accomplish them. Expect it! When you expect something, you believe something WILL happen and make plans accordingly.


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

Email: szahn@lifetimefitness.com