Tag Archives: Anticipation

Anticipation

I remember when I was a child, I would wake up very excited the day when my favorite soccer club was due to play. I would wait in anticipation of the game throughout the day, and the feeling of anticipation was often as great, if not greater, than the feeling of watching the game in the evening.

The same is true for many events that you anticipate, both personally and professionally. The feeling of anticipation is greater than the feeling you get when the event actually takes place.

The feeling of anticipation may have evolved in this way so that we don’t lose sight of our targets. Without it, we might otherwise stop pursuing some long term targets that actually provide us with an evolutionary edge.

Similarly to the feeling of anticipation of a target often being stronger than the feeling of actually experiencing the target, the journey is often more rewarding than the destination.

Don’t anticipate, create alternatives

What do you do when you’re waiting for an important piece of information to arrive?

For example, you might have just pitched an investor and are waiting for their investment decision.

Or you might have just asked a friend to introduce you to someone and are waiting for their introduction.

Or you might have just applied to college and are waiting for the admissions decision.

In each of these cases, if you’re relying on just one person or organization’s decision, you’re in for a long and anxious wait. Since there’s a single point of failure, if that person or organization says no, you’re left in the open. And since you want to avoid this outcome, you begin to worry.

Rather than spend your time worrying, a better approach is to create alternatives. This shifts a single point of failure into multiple points and the more points you have the less likely that every one of them will fail.

Pitch other investors for funding. Ask other friends to make the introduction. Apply to other colleges.

The option to create alternatives rather than anticipate a single important piece of information isn’t always available. For example, a family member might be in the emergency room. In that case, there’s nothing you can do but wait. You can’t have the same family member receive treatment at different emergency rooms with the hope that one of them improves her condition.

But in most cases, you can create alternatives. And that’s a much better use of your time than anticipating a single point of failure.