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Intention vs Expectation




I find that it can be easy to confuse intention with expectation. My high school slogan was High Expectation = High Achievement. Even back then I intuitively found fault with that slogan because I had already learned that expectation will oftentimes lead to disappointment. If, however I swap the word expectation with intention, then the slogan takes on a whole new meaning:

High intention = High achievement.

Well, what is the difference? I will explain how I have come to understand it.

Expectation implies attachment to a specific outcome ... I expect this or that to happen so that I can be happy. Expectation leads to anger and/or disappointment if things don't go exactly the way that they are expected to. Those negative feelings come from the attachment associated with expectation, and you can be sure that the attachment itself is detrimental to things going smoothly. Intention, on the other hand, involves little resistance as well as faith that no matter how things go, the root of the intention will come to pass (even if it doesn't play out exactly as one had imagined). Let us look at this using an example.

Let's say that Phil wants to land the lead role in a play. Well, the root reasons behind him wanting to land a lead role in a play could be for the love of performing, to be in the spotlight, and to gain the respect and admiration of his peers. If Phil is hanging onto an expectation that he will land the lead role, he is setting himself up to be very disappointed if he doesn't get it, even if he is given another significant part in the play. If, however, Phil focuses on the root reasons behind wanting the lead role - in other words, if Phil INTENDS to enjoy performing, being in the spotlight, and gaining the respect and admiration of his peers ... he has just opened himself up to the graceful unfoldment of them without the anxiety and attachment associated with a specific expectation. Now things can play out much more smoothly. Phil is much more at ease and relaxed, having a lot of fun just being at the audition. Whether or not he lands the lead role does not matter to him because he is just enjoying the moment. Even if Phil lands a small part in the play he knows that he can embellish it and be in the spotlight for that moment, enjoying the performance, and naturally gaining the respect and admiration of this peers for the great job he has done. You see, people can pick up on others' energy and are far more drawn to someone who is full of joy in the moment. The amazing part about this is that Phil is much more likely to land the lead role now that he is not so concerned about it. By holding his intention high but letting go of specific expectations, Phil has a much more playful and satisfying life experience.

So remember:

High Intention = High Achievement

Tuesday, June 22 2010 12:04:08 PM in Philosophy


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