Recently, it occurred to me that the joy of something in the future comes not only from the thought of that something but may also come from the anticipation and preparation for it. For example, I have an upcoming trip. Certain preparations will create benefit while on the trip: learning some Spanish, refreshing scuba diving skills, and gathering warm-weather clothing. These could seem like chores or they could be fun and pleasurable.
It has been a delight to be learning and refreshing and preparing well in advance and enjoying the journey. In the past, I might have left much to the last minute. I might be asking myself: ‘Do I really need to learn Spanish?’, ‘Do I really need to dive?’, ‘Do I really need some additional clothing for the trip?’. Instead I have embraced these things and have been asking myself: ‘What do I want to do in preparation for the trip? ‘What would create value during the trip that I can take care of now?’ When it was about what I needed to do, it became just another to do. When it is about what I want, I find joy and learning in it. Now I am excited to try out my basic Spanish skills, enjoy what diving has to offer at this locale, and feel comfortable in some new Summer garb.
What are you preparing for that has become just another ‘to do’, ‘have to’, or ‘obligation’? How can you switch to the perspective of what you want for yourself? Obligation vs Anticipation. Obligation sets us up for an uphill battle. Anticipation sets us up for positive momentum. A shift in perspective can change the trajectory of our thoughts, level of joy, and depth of fulfillment. This is something we have control of. It is something we can experiment with. It is inspiring and empowering to know that right here, right now we can make that difference for ourselves.
To shift your perspective, think of and write down some things that you feel are “have to do’s” in preparation for something. It could be a vacation, a meeting, a new initiative, a presentation, performance reviews, providing feedback, having a difficult conversation. You name it. How can you shift your perspective from it being a chore, a ‘have to’, into something that aligns with your values such as learning, growth, research, creating positive outcomes, improving results, improving relationships … things that are meaningful to you? Alignment of our actions to our values creates a much more positive and productive pathway by which to move forward. It takes a bit of effort up front and is well worth it the rest of the way.
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