Which Will You Choose – Anticipation or Expectation

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Family relaxing outdoors
My fortieth birthday was the worst. I was certain my family would go out of their way to make me forget about the number I was reaching by celebrating . . . me. Big mistake. My teen, tween, and pre-school age children felt no need to smother me with adoration and affection as I  crossed into a new decade. And because I was upset by my children’s lack of attentiveness, no effort on Rev’s part was appreciated.

It’s funny, but all I remember from the day is how I ruined it with a bad attitude.

Have you ever observed a family having a meltdown on vacation? Maybe you’ve been that family. Parents can expect their darlings to be so appreciative of the effort and money being spent that they will stop being children for a few days and morph into happy angelic gratitude machines. That’s probably not going to happen.

Think about some of the times you’ve been disappointed. Was it because someone, something, or someplace failed to deliver what you expected?

There is a better way. 

Let’s look at the difference between expectation and anticipation.

To expect is to:

  • consider probable or certain
  • consider reasonable, owed, or necessary
  • consider bound in duty or obligated

To anticipate is to:

  • look forward to
  • regard as likely
  • hope for

The Coach and Mentor Group describes the difference between anticipation and expectation like this:

The difference is in our attitude. One is hope and one is entitlement. Hope allows for any number of things to happen. Hope keeps us open to possibilities we couldn’t even imagine. Entitlement usually has a very specific outcome. It relies on other people to react and behave in the way we want them to.

Today’s Fun Activity

1. Plan a fun night for your family . . . favorite food night, movie night, game night, karaoke night, photo/scrapbook night, or family pajama party night.

2. Choose a date together so everyone can participate. Have each person save the date. Don’t give them any details. Tell them you want them to anticipate a fun time together without knowing what to expect.

3. Make all the necessary preparations . . . grocery shopping and preparing the space.

4. Make a list of your reasons for planning family fun night:

  • you love your family
  • you want to show them you love them
  • you want to make happy memories
  • you want them to feel special
  • you want to have fun with them

5. Anticipate that each of your reasons will play out exactly as you hope, but expect:

  • at least one family member to try to bail out
  • your children to argue and complain
  • your husband to have to work late
  • the power to go out, the microwave to break, or the TV to die
  • it to not turn out the way you hope

6. If your family fun night turns out as expected . . . well you won’t be disappointed or upset. If it turns out as anticipated you will be thrilled and celebrate. Either way you did something nice for your family.

7. Later take some time to talk with your family about the difference between anticipation and expectation.

Hope or entitlement.

Anticipation or expectation.

You may not be able to control your circumstances or change the way the people around you react, but you can change your attitude. Will you choose anticipation?

I promise it’s the one that will give you the most peace and happiness.

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About Deb

Thank you so much for visiting CMB. I'm glad you're here. Please visit About Blessing Counting and Deb at the top of the page, and don't forget to leave a comment and subscribe before you go. God bless you!

3 thoughts on “Which Will You Choose – Anticipation or Expectation

  1. I stumbled across your blog while searching for the differences between anticipation and expectation. I was mis-quoting ROM 8:19 ” The creation waits in eager expectation…” I had said anticipation and wondered if there was a difference. I can agree with you about changing our expectations to anticipations with regards to our family for our own sanity. But may I suggest that we never have to change our expectations from expectations when it is something God has promised. The creation had no reason to doubt God, that he would reveal His glory in us. However, I often doubt God because I see through my own eyes the circumstances around me. People disappoint ( yes, even our darling children and loving husbands), but God never does.
    Thanks for your thoughts and God bless.

    1. You are absolutely right, Donna. If God has promised it, we can count on it. We can trust His Word with complete expectation. Thanks so much for visiting. May God bless you!

  2. I appreciate the distinctions you made. I was searching for more of an entymological explanation, but your’s was still helpful. Thanks.

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