Anticipation – Blessing or Curse?

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway, yay
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasin’ after some finer day

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

These are the beginning lines to Carly Simon’s 1971 mega- hit “Anticipation”. I was about 10 years old when this song came out, and I remember hearing it almost every day for months. It became part of life’s soundtrack for me in the early ’70’s – a tumultuous time in our country’s history: wars raging far across the world – inflation out of control – money and jobs hard to come by – political views dividing the country like a hot knife through butter. Carly Simon’s lyrics were about an unrequited love – but they echoed the mood of the US brilliantly.

Simon’s thoughts would be right on the money today as well – sounds eerily similar, huh? History has a nasty way of repeating itself, and today feels a lot like the ’70’s – minus the hippy clothes, peace signs and flower children everywhere. I often find myself fixated on the good stuff that is bound to happen sooner or later...right? I try to trick myself into searching for only the silver linings while blatantly avoiding the boiling black thunder head clouds of problems hanging right over my head.

Anticipation is both a blessing and a curse. Trying to run a small business in this decade has been a series of incredible pulse pounding highs and humbling debilitating lows for me – and I’m sure for hundreds of thousands of other entrepreneurs the world over. Sometimes the only thing I have to grab onto in the ocean of uncertainty is the belief that soon – at any moment! – a beautiful cruise ship or luxury yacht will see me and pull me out of the water.

Webster’s defines anticipation as “a mental attitude that influences a later response.” Note the word “influences” – anticipation is not simply an overly positive, polly-anna state of denial. The sheer act of looking longingly for the good instead of the bad can change your behavior and create a new reality or reaction to a future situation. This does not relinquish your responsibility to find practical solutions to difficult challenges, however. You can’t just sit in the rain until the sun comes out – you have find shelter until the storm passes – all the while believing that the clouds will part eventually and the warm rays will be soon to follow!

Anticipation is a wonderful tool, but don’t let it become your master. Learn how far you can push the pedal in your positive-thinking hot rod without driving right off the road into a tree! Remember, there is a life balance to everything, and this one is critical. Not enough positive anticipation and you can become sullen, withdrawn, fearful, and untrusting. Too much Vitamin “A” and you can reach the pinnacle of laziness, complacency, and even begin to feel entitled to what you think you deserve. 

The perfect anticipation balance lies in being able to believe in a positive future but then taking rational steps toward that goal. A sign on a church marquee near my home recently read “Courage is the perfect blend of fear and faith.” And for me, that’s where real “anticipation” lives – use the fear to push you to become better, pray for guidance every step of the way, and let your new found courage lead the way to real happiness. It’s the only way I have made it through the last few months – well, that and Carly Simon’s classic song. Thanks, Carly – these are indeed the “good old days.”