Expectations vs Intentions
Expectation: the act or state of expecting : anticipation: visualization of a future event or state
Intention: a determination to act in a certain way : intend: to direct the mind on : to proceed on (a course)
from Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Are expectations bad by nature? This sounds like a simple question. But wait, what’s the difference between expectations and intentions? Setting intentions has the sound of a new age exercise but aren’t people supposed to be happier without expectations? My friend and I were quickly going down the rabbit hole with this simple question. I have been thinking on these two ideas and what they have to do with me for awhile now, so I turned to the good old Webster.
Go With the Flow
Our house is taking longer to sell than I’d anticipated. Some days, I feel lucky to wake up beneath our 4 foot sky light and hear nothing but the birds tweeting and the creek gurgling outside. Those are the days that I’m not living “in the state of expecting, or anticipation or visualizing a future moment.” I’m living in the current moment.
The Beauty Is the Journey
Then there’re also the times when I’m disappointed with the journey not going according to my expectations or plan. Let me tell you, I have planned my plans on this one. I’m slowly starting to realize that I’m not happy when I get too wrapped up in visualizing the future event or am living in the state of expecting and anticipating. That’s when I have forgotten that the beauty is in the journey and I’m lost in anticipating.
I Can Only Change Inside My Own Hoola-Hoop
Expectations mean I’m attempting to force my will on other people, places and things. My batting average at controlling people, places or things is low. Ultimately, I can only control what’s inside my own hula-hoop, and that’s a full time job with slow results. My attempts to force or control are coming from a place that feels powerless and scared, a place of fear.
Where My Attention Goes, Grows
Time and time again, the saying where your attention goes, grows proves to be as true as the law of gravity for me. If I’m coming from a place of fear then I get more fear. If I focus my attention on gratitude then I find more to be grateful for.
Not Going With the Flow
It is an elusive but key difference for me to let go of expecting the when and the how that events will happen. When I step back and watch the puzzle pieces fall together in their own time and way, then I’m “proceeding on a course” as the Webster definition above says. Proceeding on a course to me means not trying to force the when or the how.
Expectations Are Premeditated Resentments
I’m creating my own misery when I say my way or the highway with my expectations. I am my own worst enemy! I’m setting myself up for heartbreak and suffering. And then I’m shocked when I’m disappointed time and time again. Quick learner, eh?
Yet, if I set an intention then I can look at a road map and pick places I’d like to visit. But if I start making campsite reservations, even in my own head, then I’m picking the when and the how because we don’t even own a camper right now!!! And let me tell you… I have made MANY reservations which I have then been so sad to cancel.
You Can’t Force a Flower to Bloom
My friend reminded me that the second and more crucial part of an intention, is that I have to let it go after I set it. It’s like putting the pie in the oven to bake. The best intentions need time to swirl around in space and time before they come into reality.
Patience is Rewarded
Remember that She Ra lunch box that you asked Santa to give you in second grade but didn’t get until you found at the thrift store in college? The universe works in its own mysterious way and we can’t force. When we don’t force the results into reality, then they are usually even more delightful. For me, it’s the waiting that’s the hardest!
Be Here Now
So this is all well and good in theory, but how do I turn my expectation into an intention? Well, I’m going to let the girls add another star to our dream road-trip map and then we’ll go eat some juicy peaches. And I’ll focus on the peach juice running down my chin, not the new star on the map, so that I enjoy this day.
The best way for me to stop pondering the past or the future is noticing what I appreciate in my life right now. The more I focus on being grateful right now, the less I focus on wondering when and how our house will sell.
Kick Back – Now it’s your turn to answer these question below!
What expectations can you change into intentions in your life? Which part is harder for you to let go of, the when or the how? Tell me about a time when you desired something, then forgot about it and then later it came to you in a funny way?
Triple Shot Super-Sized Cup of Gratitude
Here’s how I’m getting back into gratitude every day. Try it and you may like it!
- Get a nice small notebook or start a new note in a list app on your phone.
- Write at the top of the page; I am so grateful and so thankful for/that:
- Then list 10 things you’re grateful and thankful for every day. These can be experiences from the past, like the best moments of your life, or small pieces of your present day. List moments that make you feel an overwhelming sense of happiness, joy or gratitude. Use lots of detail so that anyone reading it would be able to understand exactly what, why, when and how. And here’s the kicker, you can’t repeat any of them or include any that lead to feelings of sadness. Just the ones that are pure joy.
- Now go back through your list of 10 and read the full sentence out loud; I am so grateful and so thankful that – I slept through the whole night last night!
- Take the time to feel the warm fuzzies before you move down the list.
- Make a decision to do it every morning!