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DeVon Franklin‘s Instagram and Twitter feeds are overflowing with an abundance of inspirational content. It’s one of the many reasons that more than one million people follow the film producer’s social media accounts. It makes sense. We all aspire to live happy and fulfilling lives, but before we can do so, Franklin says that we have to get more in tune with our expectations. This is the inspiration behind his new book, Live Free: Exceed Your Highest Expectations. We had the opportunity to speak to DeVon about Live Free and how expectations come into play when cultivating healthy relationships.

MN: Tell us about your book, Live Free: Exceed Your Highest Expectations.

DeVon: This book is all about how to set expectations for yourself. In so many instances, we can find ourselves living for everybody else’s expectations but not what’s in the heart. It’s a book to help you get your power back. It’s a book to help get your life back. By, you saying, ‘Hey, what is it that I want my life to be and how do I start to set expectations in that direction?’ The other part, of it, which is a big part of the book, is all about how to set expectations because even when you have expectations for yourself, sometimes they can be unset, which means unrealistic. How do you know if something is realistic? Well, is it in your control? A lot of times, we have these expectations that are not in our control and I argue that they’re unrealistic. In order to know what’s in our control, we have to decide like, okay, well, can I actually do this? Can I have this and if you can’t I argue that it’s unrealistic to expect. So, this whole book is all about managing expectations. It’s all about setting your life the way you want and in the process, you start to live free. Living free means that you and I are not under the emotional, mental, or physical control of anyone or anything. That’s what it means to live free.

MN: It’s so funny that we’re discussing expectations. My husband and I are learning that we have to reset our expectations of each other since having a baby.
DeVon: Well, maybe this book has come in at the right time because I put a lot of information in there. I have a whole section about relationships. There are chapters in there about communication and how to set expectations with your partner because that’s critical. That’s one of the reasons why marriages tend to not work because there are a lot of unspoken expectations and there are a lot of unrealistic expectations. You know, you’re trying to control somebody that you have no control over and that is always a recipe for frustration because we try to focus on what they’re doing at the expense of where we may not be [doing].
MN: Interesting, so how does one manage their expectations for a healthy relationship?
DeVon: Well, I think you know, first and foremost, you have the perspective that you can’t lean on the relationship for things that you are not are doing for yourself. ‘I want love,’ okay, but are you loving yourself, first? ‘I want to be happy.’ Okay, well are you creating your happiness now? Because if you’re not happy now you’re not gonna be happy then and if you are happy then, but you’re not happy single, then you are going to be completely addicted and codependent on that person to make you and help you feel the way that you want to feel. And when they don’t do those things, you’re devastated or you open yourself up to be manipulated because they have control over you. And so, you know, coming into a relationship, you want to just make sure that you understand why you want it.  I know it sounds like a simple question, but it’s like, ‘Why do I want this relationship? What am I looking to get out of it?’ Sometimes, we go into relationships mindlessly, like ‘Oh, you know it is what I want. I don’t want to be alone.’ Nothing wrong with that, but what is the work that you need to do on yourself? Are you content? Are you focused on your wholeness so that you have something to bring to the relationship? In my experience, the best relationships are when both people have something to bring, and then that union enhances both of them. But some of the most toxic ones are when one is deficient and they are completely feeding off of the other to supplement their emotional well-being and that to me, is a really dangerous unhealthy place to be.
MN: In an instance where a couple finds that their expectations are misaligned, what’s next?

DeVon: The relationship can absolutely be saved and salvaged. The first thing that they should do is to do the work on themselves. It’s like, ‘Oh, wait, my expectations have created this problem. Oh, wait a second. My unspoken expectations created this problem. Oh, wow, so it’s not them, it’s me.’ You can salvage the relationship by taking ownership, by taking accountability. Megan and I did pre-engagement counseling for months and, you know, premarital counseling and all that. There’s no amount of counseling that prepares you for marriage, really. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. I think there’s value in it because it, it can establish a practice of communicating and that communication is always good but when you get in the relationship or in the marriage and you start getting deep into it, one of the things that become hard and harder is to take accountability for the problems that we actually contribute to. It’s so easy to say they’re the problem, but when we get to become more mature we say, ‘You know, I got to be accountable for that. I actually contributed to that. If I hadn’t been so needy at that moment, I wouldn’t have said what was said and upset them the way that I did. That was my fault. So you can salvage the relationship by taking accountability.

MN: How did you intend Live Free: Exceed Your Highest Expectations to be used when you wrote it? Did you want it to be read cover to cover or used more as a reference?
DeVon: It doesn’t have to be read. Sequentially. I list every single section in the book, in the table of contents. So when you open the table of contents, you can see what I’m talking about in terms of personal expectations or cultural or relational or professional, you can go right there. So I want people to read the book based upon what’s bothering them. So it’s almost like you know, you go to the doctor and they’re just not treating everything. It’s like, ‘Hey, you know I got a pain in my side,’ and they’re like, ‘Okay, let me help you with that.’ So if you have any relationship problems, go to the relationships section. If you have some pain in your career, go to the career section.
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