Improve Your Chances

Bill Abbate

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Do you want to learn a secret every successful person knows? The secret is so obvious we often miss it because of how society has conditioned us. Living in a prosperous country like the USA, we take much for granted, expecting certain things to always be available. As we age, we find fewer and fewer of these expectations meet reality.

Before divulging the secret, Let's examine the factors that support it.

Expectation vs. Intention

Everyone is familiar with the words expectation and intention, yet many misunderstand the two and their best application in our lives. Let's look at what lies behind each word.

An expectation is something you wait for, expecting it to happen, become available, or come to you. In other words, expectations set you up to be passive, waiting, and dependent on other things or people.

An intention is something you plan to accomplish and will most likely take action to move toward it. In other words, intentions move you forward into action with a determination to make something happen.

When you set goals in your life, how do you approach them? From the perspective of expectation or intention?

For example, think about the money you earn and consider the following statements:

  • I expect an increase in my pay to make X dollars this year.
  • I intend to increase my income to earn X dollars this year.

Look at those statements closely. Which has more power and potential to achieve your desired results?

Think about anything you want to happen in the future. First, phrase it as "I expect such and such to happen." Now reword that comment with "I intend to make such-and-such happen." Again, which has more power—the expectation or the intention?

Yes, there is a significant difference between expectations and intentions. An expectation is an anticipation of something happening, whereas an intention is the determination to make it happen.

The Secret

If you have not figured out the secret yet, it is because it is so simple it has been right in front of us our entire lives.

Highly successful people make things happen through their intentions, while less successful people live in the hope of their expectations.

"Our intention creates our reality." Wayne Dyer (1940-2015)

The secret is every successful person learns to not lean on their expectations but rather to lean into their intentions! So long as you are at the mercy of an expectation, you are dependent on someone or something else.

Let's clear up one thing before we move on. Everyone is familiar with the terms realistic and unrealistic expectations. Both are expectations, no matter how you view them. Experience teaches us a realistic expectation can quickly become unrealistic because it still depends on something or someone else. Either way, expectations are passive, not something you act on or do.

Put the Secret to Use in Your Life

"Each decision we make, each action we take, is born out of an intention." Sharon Salzberg (1952-present)

You must take charge and be active to create what you want in life. When you take an expectation and make it an intention, you put legs on it. Your intention depends on you, not someone else. Who better to rely on than yourself? When you intend to do something, you will do the work required to move toward achieving it.

The simplest way to look at expectations versus intentions is:

An expectation is passive – something that may or may not come to you, meaning you must wait for it.

An intention is active – something you go to and actively engage to accomplish.

An expectation is simply an assumption. It's a passive state of mind. You do recall what they say about assuming don't you (you make an a**/out of u/ and me)?

An intention drives action, making things happen. It's an active state of mind. It is action-oriented and comes from a creating-oriented mindset.

Does this make sense? If not, reread it again and again until it does. In this simple difference between expectation and intention lies the secret to achievement.

Intention involves maturity and acceptance of responsibility. Expectation takes a wait-and-see stance. Intention is about what you do, not just what happens to you or what someone else does.

"When intention is supported by effort, success follows." Robert Cheeke (1980-present)

Here are a few quick examples to illustrate the difference:

  • I expect my wife to love me. I intend to love my wife.
  • I expect the promotion to happen. I intend to work for the promotion.
  • I expect them to treat me with respect. I intend to earn their respect.
  • I expect to win the lottery or get a windfall, so I won't have to worry about retirement. I intend to work and save, so I have enough to retire when I am older.
  • I expect Social Security to be there when I retire. I intend to save enough money to retire without government assistance.
  • I expect to be able to provide for my family. I intend to provide for my family.

Final thoughts

"Where intention goes, energy flows." Denise Linn (1950-present)

Now that you know the secret, what do you want to do with it? What expectations can you change to intentions?

Your future will be determined in large part by your answer to the following questions:

  • What do I expect to get from life?
  • What do I intend to do with my life?

You can wait for something or make it happen. The choice is yours and yours alone. May you choose well!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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