The Lost Art of Anticipation

With three little kids, my world is an endless parade of highly anticipated events–birthdays, playdates, extracurricular activities, … . One of my kids spends her days in the throes of agony or ecstasy depending on how long it is until her birthday arrives: planning everything with her friends, thinking about the family celebration, … It reminds me my expectation before the Christmas morning (or more precisely, the Three Kings Day). Back then, waiting was hard —but it was great too. Some of my best memories come from those magical mornings and the adrenaline rush that would come from opening up long-awaited gifts.

Anticipation is a good thing. But it’s also a lost art. It takes intentionality and preparation, and it requires us to do a few things. To experience anticipation, we have to learn to delay gratification. Not only is it wise not to buy something the moment we want it, it actually diminishes the pleasure we receive from anticipating it and the joy that finally comes when receiving it.

Not only is it hard to delay gratification, but it is also hard to plan ahead. In a fast-moving society, most of us simply don’t have our calendars set far enough in advance to anticipate something. When we do this, we are robbing ourselves. We might think the benefits of a big trip would be getting time off and having special moments with family; but, experts have found the prepping and waiting for a vacation might be just as rewarding.

Without waiting, we don’t get the sweet slow burn of true anticipation. True anticipation has to be the perfect mix of pain and pleasure: pleasure because you imagine what’s coming and pain because you have to wait for it.

Do you have anything on your calendar a few months down the road that you are looking forward to? The only way to anticipate is to plan something and then wait for it. Both are hard, and neither will happen without intentionality. Think about it also related to your future next releases in your work. Make it worth your while.

Summing-up: As Christmas morning proves, a little bit of anticipation can make a big difference.

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