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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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How to Use Two Simple Concepts That Will Improve Your Perspective About Next

There are two phases of next. There is the anticipation of next and the actual participation in next. Next involves thinking about something first and then engaging. How do these concepts work in unison to move us forward? How do they combine to create a fuller and more satisfying experience? Our attitude and perspective greatly influence both aspects of next.


Anticipation of Next

Thinking about what will happen next or what you want to happen next can bring about a variety of emotions. When there is something we’re excited about like taking a vacation or visiting with a loved one we experience positive anticipation. Savoring the expectation is one way of enhancing and expanding your good feelings. They easily carry forward to the participation stage and can extend beyond that too.

However, when we are nervous about something like organizing and addressing our clutter issues, anticipation can make us anxious. Under these circumstances, getting to the participation stage can be more challenging. There is an opportunity to change our experience. Positive emotions can arrive in the doing phase when you allow yourself to activate and accomplish the problematic “next.”


Imagine an Anticipation of Next scale from 1 to 10.

 10 = “I’m so excited that I can’t wait for next!”

 1 = “I’m petrified for next.”

Anticipation is always part of next. How we view it depends upon the situation and the perspective we bring. This is subjective, but in the list below, can you guess what number each is on the Anticipation of Next scale?

Here are some “next” things I am anticipating:

  • Learn to play the ukulele
  • Prepare for leading an organizing workshop
  • Write spring organizing newsletter
  • Redo our front walk and driveway
  • Schedule annual doctor appointments


Participation in Next

Once we’ve thought about next, we enter the doing phase. We are no longer just contemplating what will happen, we are engaging in what we had been expecting. Practicing mindfulness during this stage is useful. Notice what is happening. Is it different or similar to what you anticipated? How do your thoughts inform your experience of this phase? How does it feel to be immersed in doing after a prolonged suspense? What surprised you?


Imagine a Participation in Next scale from 1 to 10.

10 = “It was incredible and exceeded my expectation!”

 1 = “It was a waste of my energy and time.”


It’s possible to get stuck in the anticipation phase to the degree that we never move on to the participation part. Our perspective and feelings during anticipation time is a crucial factor. Some next steps are easier to get to than others. This is subjective, but in the list below, can you guess what number each item is on the Participation in Next scale?

These are some “next” things I recently participated in:

  • Interviewed on WNYC
  • Took a ukulele workshop
  • Celebrated my mom’s 90thbirthday
  • Sent our 2018 tax information to the accountant
  • Attended a mind/body workshop

The anticipation of and participation in next create opportunities for growth, positivity, and mindfulness. What have you experienced about next? Have you ever gotten stuck in the anticipation phase? Is it useful to consider the two “next” scales? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I invite you to join the conversation! 





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Reader Comments (16)

This is great stuff; I've never thought about things in quite this way! Your scales help me to understand that the way my husband experiences anticipation is very different than the way I do, which will facilitate communication about it in the future.Thank you!

March 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- I'm thrilled to hear that these ideas will be helpful. We approach life with different lenses. Using the scales as a way of opening up communication and understanding is a beautiful way to work with them. I love that! Thank you for sharing.

March 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

For happy things, I think I enjoy the anticipation of next more than the actual experience. The opposite is true for tough or challenging things. I often say that the anticipation of a hard experience is often worse than the experience itself (not always, but often). In many cases, once we get started, those feelings of fear and anxiety get pushed aside by the activity. I really love this post because we don't talk much about the impact of the anticipation phase. Thanks for casting this new light on our thinking!

March 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I'm a planner and a doer. I find that I think of activities that are coming up and get anxious about it. To combat the anxiety and to feel more in control of the change, I start planning. It makes it easier for me to start preparing to do things to help the tension subside.

Some of my next things:
Coordinate and prepare food and decorations for an Indoor Percussion and Indoor Guard Judges Hospitality area events I am responsible for on March 23 and March 30.
Get stuff for daughter's dorm who is going away to college in the fall.
Preparing for my outside herb and vegetable gardens.

It's going to be a busy month or two.

March 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

This is an interesting look at how to move forward and grow. I am also a "planner" and often spend a lot of time in the anticipation phase. I find that planning helps me to move on to the participation phase with less anxiety.

March 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Haworth

I think between Anticipation of Next and Participation of Next could also be a time called Planning for Next. I think this is where people fall short sometimes. They don't take the time to plan the outcome they want. I love your posts. You have such a unique perspective. Thanks.

March 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

I love your perspective on ALL things! You have a way of looking at life and moving through life with a curious mind.

What I have discovered, for myself, is that I often anticipate something is not going to be as enjoyable as it turns out to be. So my anticipation of next might be a 3, but the next (actively participating in) turns out to be an 8.

March 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Blumer

@Seana- I'm glad this post got you thinking about anticipation and participation around next. It's interesting to hear how you were able to make some global observations for yourself. I agree with you about the challenging things often being worse anxiety-wise anticipating them, yet when we engage, they aren't as bad as we thought. Looking back on those times can help in future situations to possibly alleviate some of that stress.

March 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sabrina- Planning and working the lists can help reduce anxiety. They can be confidence-building. And as you pointed out, they make us feel more in control and prepared. It sounds like some exciting things you're anticipating in the next few months. And I can imagine that they appear on the Anticipation of Next scale at varying numbers. I wish you all the best (before, during, and after) with your upcoming projects.

March 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Nancy- You're in good company with the planning. Another reason why that's an effective way to manage anxiety is that it gets our tasks out of our head to a tool where we can better manage and organize them. When we keep everything in our brain, we spend more energy than needed, and it becomes more challenging to organize our thoughts and to-dos.

March 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet S.- Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate your addition of "Planning for Next." It's almost a subset of the "Anticipation" phase, but it's more concrete because it has some action behind it. So it's perhaps a bridge between Anticipation and Participation. Love it!

March 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Anne- Wow! Thank you for saying that. You made my day.

You made an interesting observation that your anticipation of next is often are MORE enjoyable than you expected. You end up being pleasantly surprised. I wonder now that you've identified this if in the future you might be able to increase your anticipation number to extend your enjoyment.

March 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I think anticipation can be the most tricky part. There can be negative build up to the actual doing that can stop us from participating. Yes, I speak from experience. =)

I often get over that hump (and myself!) by thinking of how I'll feel when my doing is done. Knowing how fabulous, proud, accomplished, and thrilled I will feel most always dissolves my anticipation anxiety and gets me planning (a stress reliever and precursor to doing) and moving.

March 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Lee

@Deb- Thoughts around negative anticipation are a thread here. And from your comment, I can see that you appreciate and understand the tricky nature of how they influence us when they take over. I love all of the positive words that you conjure-up about how you'll feel ("proud," "accomplished") when you find yourself in the negative mode to help motivate you forward. Way to go, Deb!

March 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Interesting stuff to think about! I'm with all the planners who have already commented, but the degree of planning that would help raise one's anticipation and participation levels can vary wildly with the "next". A trip or a presentation? Plan away! A different type of planning -- mental preparation -- is called for in situations like these, though: An event you are simply attending, that you are apprehensive about? Depends on what it is, of course, but positive visualization can help, and thinking through what's the worst thing that could happen and what you would do about it if it did. What about something simple that you are dreading, but it needs to be done, and there's no specific time you need to do it? Again, always, depends on what it is -- eat that frog, rip the bandaid off, dive in the deep end, get it over with! I'm a proponent of, and have written about, the virtues not worrying, but instead, taking action (including planning).

March 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

@Hazel- I always appreciate your perspective and the in-depth way you look at things with humor and humanness. That planning piece continues to be a common theme here. You bring up an interesting connection between how the type of next can "vary wildly" and brings forth different needs for planning, the degree we obsess or worry, and how easy or challenging it is to take action. It's an intricate and fascinating spectrum of situations, options, and reactions. I thought of one other thing. It's possible to be in the anticipation phase and then decide to let "next" go. We chose purposely not to move ahead. It's not fear-driven but instead based on changing goals or desires.

March 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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