The Difference Between Waiting and Expecting

The Difference Between Waiting and Expecting


Many little children around the world go to bed on the 24th December in the expectation that Father Christmas will bring them presents while they are sleeping. Since they can remember, these gifts magically appear on Christmas morning, and they fall asleep with a smile on their face in the knowledge that “he” will come.

Very few wait up anxiously, wondering whether the reindeer will have enough energy or whether Santa’s sat-nav will fail. For me, waiting often involves a certain degree of uncertainty, and it is all too easy to let that sense of waiting consume us. Kids who wait up late for Santa won’t have much energy the next day, but kids who have an early night in the expectation of his arrival will wake up refreshed and ready for the delights of the day.

For me, the difference between waiting and expecting is where we focus our minds.

When we are expecting something in our business or personal lives, we are able to “park it” somewhere safe and allow ourselves to take the next mental step of dealing with it (or moving on to something else entirely). If, on the other hand, we are waiting for something that we tell ourselves might not happen, a thousand-and-one scenarios crowd our thoughts.

But is expectation really a choice?

I believe that it can be.

Positive thinking is a mentality that many people seek to adopt, and expecting outcomes rather than waiting for them to happen (or not) very much falls under this umbrella. Life is always going to throw obstacles and curve balls our way, but it is far easier to deal with them as they happen rather than worry about the countless scenarios that will never come to pass. When you expect something to happen and it doesn’t happen, there is inevitable disappointment, but at least you are able to deal with it immediately and move on. When you are waiting for something uncertain, your energies are often wasted on a future that may never come.

Some people might not see a difference here, but it is all about the mindset.

A job search is a classic example. A candidate has to go into an interview with the expectation that the employer will like them. If they are waiting for signs that this is the case, half the interview might pass before they have any certainty, and by then an employer’s mind might be made up. Expecting something without any certainty in the result is a sign of the strongest mind.

Very little in life is certain, but if we choose to expect the best outcome, we give our minds every chance of focusing on that optimal scenario.

Those little children are dreaming about opening their presents, not worrying about whether Santa is going to have a year off.

Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury

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