Practices From the Inside Out: The Power of Anticipation

Practices From the Inside Out: The Power of Anticipation June 2, 2018

The Power of Anticipation

Do you believe in the power of anticipation?

Some people approach life as an opportunity to anticipate. They pride themselves on their preparation for any eventuality.

People who anticipate follow a list. Their bags are packed and ready to go before the morning of their trip.

People who enjoy anticipation like to believe they can see around corners and in dark spaces. They like to think they can foresee complications and plan accordingly.

The people who believe in the power of anticipation often look for worst case scenarios.

Other people rely more on their ability to adapt or adjust, to see what happens and respond. They do not necessarily anticipate every challenge in advance. These people are confident in their abilities regardless of what the specific obstacles might be.

People who believe in the power of anticipation can feel its emotional benefits. They experience anticipation as a sense of expectation or prediction.

Their feelings of anticipation reinforce and support the power of anticipation for them.

I appreciate the power of anticipation. It is attractive to feel I have foreseen the possible problems and solved them in advance. At the same time, it can also be enjoyable to adjust and adapt to deal with surprises. Anticipating everything can get a little routine, or even boring.

There is satisfaction in anticipating and being prepared. I can also enjoy the rush of dealing with unforeseen obstacles.

Do you prefer experiencing the power of anticipation, or the adventure of surprises?

Is anticipation more than, or different from, planning ahead for you?

Understanding the Power of Anticipation

There are at least two things we can mean when we say “anticipation.”

First, we anticipate when we look ahead, getting ready, foreseeing potential desires. We may know someone well enough to anticipate what they would like to eat. There may be benefits, or costs, we can anticipate based on where we are going. The weather may be different and we can anticipate we will need particular clothing.

Another understanding of anticipation is our experience of expectant waiting for something. We feel anticipation as we look forward to something we desire.

Our anticipation may be an immediate shudder which goes down our spine or something we practice over time.

Some people anticipate the flavors of specific foods or the experience of particular cities. We may anticipate certain times of the year or holidays.

I am anticipating two trips up the California coast I have planned for this summer.

We may experience the power of anticipation to draw us into what we anticipate. Our minds can anticipate something we desire and make feel even more anticipation.

Some people believe the power of anticipation includes shaping what happens to us. We say “You get what you wish for” as our anticipation creates a context for what we desire.

Each of us anticipates in our own ways. We may anticipate challenges or rewards, holidays or struggles. Anticipation might spark our regrets from the past or our fears of the future. Some people anticipate with careful planning while others seem to anticipate through fantasy.

The people I know whose anticipation attracts me appear to have a calm sense of reassurance. They persist in anticipation in the face of obstacles. The power of anticipation seems to help carry them in the direction they want to go.

Practicing the Power of Anticipation

Some of us anticipate challenges and difficulties in spiritual life. We understand growing and developing spiritual strength takes time and effort. Our spiritual practice is about recognizing obstacles before they stop us in our tracks.

Other people practice anticipation by responding to its attraction. Rather than problems, their anticipation is about what draws us to go further, the desires of our hearts. Their anticipation inspires them to continue.

How do we put the power of anticipation into practice in spiritual life?

Anticipation is more than either strategic planning or wishful thinking. Our first step into the power of anticipation is taking time to recognize what we anticipate.

Many people never pause long enough to anticipate anything. They seem to be drifting along from experience to experience. The circumstances of their everyday lives appear to have overwhelmed their own desires.

Some of us do not take the opportunity to intentionally anticipate until we notice something is wrong. Our lives may not be turning out the way we thought they would. We may not be satisfied with where our choices have taken us.

Where do we actually anticipate our lives going? What would contribute to our satisfaction and what is getting in our way?

Do we recognize the deepest desires of our own hearts?

Our first step in practicing the power of anticipation is listening to what we anticipate. We may have spent our lives trying to meet, or exceed, someone else’s expectations. Some of us put our time and effort into avoiding obstacles other people have anticipated.

Once we are confident we are anticipating for ourselves we take the next step. Our own sacred desires shape where we are working to go and what we are trying to avoid.

The Power of Anticipation Within Us

Our anticipation does not control what happens to us. We cannot anticipate everything and we cannot avoid every challenge.

Anticipation can be a gift which helps us navigate through life. Rather than drifting along on autopilot, we anticipate where the adventure will take us next.

Our anticipation may not allow us to see around corners. As we practice, the power of anticipation grows within us.

More than wishful thinking or strategic planning, anticipation guides us as we continue.

My friend Brenda Hanley and I host a conversation on Twitter which focuses on a word to live by each Sunday. Please join us on Sunday, June 3 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time as we explore inspiration. We will be using the hashtag #WordsToLiveBy.

Where is the power of anticipation helping us go today?

How do you anticipate the power of anticipation working for you this week?

[Image by girlzilla09]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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