Anticipation is a tricky companion that’s always with us. Like a loyal dog, it’s right there alongside everything novel in our lives. (But unlike a loyal dog, you don’t always get a good feeling from it.)
Depending on circumstance or mindset, feeling anticipation can cause either feelings of anxiety or excitement. If only we could leave anxiety at the curb and instead focus on our excitement…
Well, the good news is that we can—it turns out there’s an art to anticipation, as it’s a learned skill. And, like all skills, you get better at it the more you practice.
Here’s what I mean:
After nearly six years of living in Portland, OR, I recently packed up my things and moved back across the country to Philadelphia, a town I barely know. I’m excited to be back on the East Coast and closer to my previous home of New York (where I lived for 20 years), but I’m nervous because I face so many unknowns with my new situation.
I feel excitement for new opportunities and new beginnings, and I feel anxiety when I think about what could go wrong.
As I write this post, I have an accepted offer on a house in downtown Philly and I’m preparing for the inspection that will happen in the morning. I’ve channeled my anxiety into excitement by getting specific with my attention. I’ve put my focus and energy into cultivating excitement for research, so that I am prepared but not overwhelmed in buying my first house. I feel excitement for all the creative exploration I get in making this home my own. And have enjoyed adding fun new vocabulary words to my mental dictionary, dazzlers like ‘flashing,’ ‘parging,’ and ‘stinger.’
Title insurance paperwork, house inspections, a myriad of unknown hurdles have my head spinning at the moment, but I am leaning into the part of me that is excited about making the house my own and embarking on a new adventure in a cool new city. I am focused less on the nerves of dealing with the unknown and the potential problems that may emerge.
Lean into the part of yourself that is interested, excited, curious rather than the part of yourself that feels overwhelmed, anxious, and worried.
This is the advice I give to my clients, and it’s the same advice I needed to hear myself when it came to my cross-country move back to the east coast.
No matter how well trained we are, humans have an uncanny desire to either control or avoid things we don’t fully understand, and it takes continual practice and bravery to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s feels challenging at first, but we can get better at it with practice. And it turns out Improv is one of the best tools to help us do so. Because, whether we like it or not, life’s one big improv, so we might as well get comfortable with it.
Shared vulnerability has the power to eliminate the fear of looking foolish in front of others and instead allows us to try something new, which in turn may lead to the next great idea, product, or solution. When we lean into the excitement of trying something new, the things that may cause us anxiety fade away.
If you are interested in practicing the art of anticipation for your team or yourself through an improv workshop, please reach out to set up an appointment and we can discuss the best options for you.
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