When you think of the people you actually value in your life, what do you think about?
Do you think about the times you’ve shared together? Do you think about the laughs you’ve shared? Do you think about the times that person has come through for you? Do you think of the things that person has accomplished and the track their life has taken?
Or do you think about how shiny their car is or the clothes they wear?
I’m going to just speculate here that the last question is not what you think about when you think of the people that actually matter to you. You might think of such things incidentally, but they’re not part of your assessment of that friend or what they actually mean to you.
What about other people? Does it really make any difference to you one way or another what people are wearing when they’re walking down the street? When you’re in a professional situation, as long as everyone is dressed minimally appropriately, does their clothing make an enormous difference in your assessment of the person? What about the car they drive?
These things might make a small impact, but if you go on to establish any sort of relationship with those people, the car they drive and the clothes they wear and the house they live in fall to the wayside.
It’s the person that matters. Not the stuff they own or the labels they wear.
The people that matter in your life do play an expectations game with you, but they don’t expect shiny cars or nice clothes or a big house. They expect you to show your strong character. They expect you to demonstrate your skills. They expect you to be fun to be with. They expect you to be reliable.
Those things don’t revolve around spending money. They revolve around the person you are and the person you strive to be.
A good friend can come wearing a burlap sack and they’ll be welcomed with open arms.
A trusty coworker can drive a beat up and rusty old car and you’ll be glad to see the “rust bucket” come around the corner.
A good neighbor can live in the oldest house on the block as long as he/she keeps that house in good shape. You’ll still be glad to give them a wave and keep an eye on their house for them when they’re away.
Clothes and cars and gadgets are flashy, but the people who stick around don’t expect them. They expect character and compassion and friendship and reliability.
If you want to win at the expectation game, stop spending your money on things to impress and start spending your time being more reliable and friendly. Those are the things that stick with the people that matter.