It's a fun time of year. Here in New Zealand the weather's getting better, and I'm looking forward to doing some diving when the water heats up a little. I'd better find my summer wetsuit. Oh, and my little gas cooker… I can almost taste that seafood feast I’ll be cooking on the beach with friends.

Anticipation can bring on excitement, nervousness, even anxiety.

Anticipation. It can bring on a surge of excitement, nervousness, even anxiety. It helps us plan ahead by giving us feelings in advance of being there, seeing it, or feeling it.

I'm anticipating some downtime over Christmas. I'm excited about it, and I'm planning ahead so it goes well.

Sometimes, it turns out the anticipation was more exciting than the event itself.

Sometimes, it turns out that the anticipation was more exciting than the event itself. Or that the anticipation enhanced the thing itself. Like how we enjoy a ride in a fun park more if we're made to wait for it.

As a parent, I often anticipate the future needs and feelings of my young children. Pack a snack, bring a change of clothes, and put a little toy in my pocket.

There are other uses for anticipation, too:

Anticipation is increasingly at the heart of urgent contemporary debates, from climate change to economic crisis. As societies are less confident that tradition will provide an effective guide to the future, anticipatory practices are coming to the foreground of political, organizational and personal life.

Roberto Poli

I'd love to see more people thinking ahead about how what they see today might impact the future. We can anticipate probable future scenarios and in doing so actually feel how we'd feel if they come true. Perhaps then we'll be able to fill in the blanks from here to there and work out what to prepare for, avoid or change.

In my work, and for me personally, anticipation means thinking ahead about the evolving world around us, about what I can influence and which waves I should ride.

I'm going to practice anticipation in 2017. I'm thinking of it as a skill that combines aspects of design thinking and emotional intelligence. I'm going to read some things and think ahead more than usual.

I'm going to read some things and think ahead more than usual.

I've set up a little site to document my thoughts and progress. Join me, if you dare.


Andrew Mayfield

Andrew Mayfield

Andrew is the CEO at Optimal Workshop, a suite of user research tools designed to help designers and information architects improve the user experience of their products. He’s a big advocate for creating better and more meaningful experiences for all, and channels that mantra through his work at Optimal Workshop. Aside from UX-related things, Andrew has a love for dabbling with inventions.

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