Friday, July 13, 2012

Assumptions matter—a lot!

We make assumptions every day without even realizing it.
A couple weeks ago I was exhausted. I’d had a bout of insomnia the night before, so I was operating on three hours of sleep. After I got home from church, I lay in bed and immediately fell asleep. The clouds hung low, darkening the sky and it was forecast to rain.  
When I awoke, it was dark outside and the clock registered 4:00. “Gosh it’s early” I said to myself. But I was wide awake, refreshed from having slept so well that night.
I got up and went about my day. Had breakfast and puttered around the house. I checked my e-mail, wrote a few letters, and read a bit. The longer I was up, the darker it became. “We’re in for quite a storm” I said.
I caught a glimpse of the lower right hand corner of the computer screen. “6:47p.m. 6/24/2012”. That’s not right. I wonder how that got off by 12 hours  I thought.
No matter though. I changed the p.m. to a.m. and moved the date forward. I watched a few programs I’d taped earlier that week. Then I began to get tired and hungry. I had a snack but didn’t want to take a nap too early in the day. So I pushed through.
It wasn’t until about 12:30 that the proverbial light went on. I had switched to live TV and saw a late night comedy show. “Oh my gosh. I’m tired because it’s 12:30 a.m.”, I said.  Everything else began to fit into place and I just laughed. I was hungry because I’d had a bowl of cereal for dinner, not breakfast. And the storm had nothing to do with the darkness. It was the middle of the night! No wonder I was tired.
I ate a bigger meal, then went to bed.  
I slept until 10:00a.m. the next day. My body dragged as I tried to re-orient myself to reality. It was as if I’d traveled across several time zones and suffered from jet lag. It was a few days before I adjusted.
Later, I realized there was a lesson in this. Our assumptions matter. Because I’d believed it was early morning instead of afternoon, everything I did from eating breakfast instead of dinner, to resetting clocks on the computers was off base. Logical based on what I thought, but since my assumptions were off, my choices made no sense. And the results were nothing like what they would have otherwise been.
It made me pause. How often do we make inaccurate assumptions? About ourselves, other people, or motivations, perhaps. It makes a difference.

Have you ever made an inaccurate assumption that led you to the wrong conclusion, or had an unexpected outcome? Perhaps not as extreme as I did, but the results were still unexpected? Don’t forget to join the conversation.


Jean Andersen said...

I've learned to not make assumptions when meeting new people. Too often I've dismissed the idea of friendship with someone to later find that they have become very important to me. How many opportunities did I miss? But I'm grateful for the ones I didn't.

Cathy Baker said...

I wish my assumptions resulted in late night dinners :), but unfortunately, mine often have to do with meeting new people, which usually results in conviction. Like Jean, I'm learning to hold off on making assumptions when meeting others. Great post, Ellen.

Celeste Vaughan said...

Too funny Ellen! I've been known to get things backward when time changes and end up at church 2 hours early! :/

Vonda Skelton said...

Funny! But you're so right--assumptions can mess with our minds and our relationships.

Ellen Andersen said...

Yes they can, Vonda. That's part of why we need other people's input and feedback, to ensure we're on the right track.