305: “Intentional Anticipation” – Part 4 – The Gift of Being FULLY Present

Intentional Anticipation-Mitch Matthews

305: “Intentional Anticipation” – Part 4 – The Gift of Being FULLY Present

Welcome to the fourth installment of a 4-part series called “The gift of being fully present.”  During these episodes, we’ve been getting you powerful and practical strategies to help you to BE IN THE MOMENT and be FULLY PRESENT more often. 

With this episode, we’re going to get you a strategy that might seem counterintuitive to living more in the present… BUT… trust me… it’s going to help to infuse the here and now… with some joy, some hope, and even some fun.  And it’s something that’s going to be soooooooo important as we all march into 2021.  It’s called “Intentional Anticipation” and I can’t wait to get it to you!  #letsdothis

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Intentional Anticipation Episode Minute By Minute:

  • 0:02 Welcome to part four!
  • 1:33 What to expect today
  • 2:42 Episode begins
  • 4:20 What is coming up in January
  • 5:07 The concept of novelty
  • 7:30 The gift of anticipation
  • 16:00 Giving yourself permission
  • 19:15 Set a date
  • 21:09 How Mitch is implementing this in his family
  • 23:02 Grow your hope muscle
  • 24:11 Mitch’s wish for you this season
  • 25:40 Share this episode with a friend


Okay… in episode 304… you may remember that we talked about something I call the “The Christmas Carol Method” of being in the moment.

We talked about questions about your past and questions about your present… to help you feel more gratitude and to help you to live more in the here and now.

Well… today we’re going to be talking about the future and something I call, “Intentional Anticipation.”

It’s a strategy that can build a sense of hope and excitement… and even joy… right here.  

Right now.  

Now… you might be saying… “Woah amigo, hold up!!!  I thought we were talking about living more in the NOW… and being more present.  Doesn’t thinking about the future move us out of that?”

And… if you’re asking that… you’re flippin’ brilliant.  

Because yes… sometimes… thinking about the future… and all the things that are outside of our control… can… let’s be honest… start to freak us out.

In fact, I love a quote I recently heard from the late great Janice Joplin, she said, 

“You can destroy your NOW, 

by worrying about your tomorrow.”  

Amen to THAT.

BUT… I want to be clear… that’s not what we’re doing.

What we’re talking about today is “Intentional Anticipation.”

And since this is DREAM THINK DO… we’re going to introduce you to the concept… get you some science to back it up… AND most importantly… show you how to use it in 15 minutes or less.  

How does that sound?  

Okay… cool… let’s do this!

Now… in January… we’re going to be getting you a few episodes that focus on the subject of happiness.  

Not in some airy-fairy kind of way… but we’re going to be digging into the science and application of feeling happy… more often. 

And… I can’t wait to get those episodes to you.

But… as we start to head that direction… I want to share a few things I’ve been learning there… and add them to our subject of being more present and living in the moment more.

So… one of the things I’ve been learning about as a key to having more happiness is the concept of “novelty.”  

The idea… that although we like it when certain things stay the same… one of the things that brings a sense of happiness is a sense of novelty.

That sense that every so often… we get to experience something NEW.

Something out of the norm.  

Something unusual.  

It can be little things like… 

Buying and wearing some new clothes.  Or reading a new book. 

Or… trying a food we haven’t tasted before or driving down a road we’ve never explored.

Or… things like…

Visiting a city we’ve never gone to before.

Meeting a new person and getting to know them.

Buying a new piece of technology… or a new toy.


Just think about it… and I’m betting you know exactly what I’m talking about.  

That sense of NEWNESS can spark a sensation of joy and excitement.

And… just as importantly… ANTICIPATING something new can spark that feeling almost as much… if not more… joy and excitement… as the experience itself.  

Heck, there’s a LOT of research to back this up.  

In fact, it’s called the Science of Anticipation.

Let me give you some examples:

There was one study published in the National Institutes of Health that looked at people who were getting ready to go on vacation.  

It tracked them and their sense of self-perceived happiness before, during and after the trip… compared to a control group who didn’t take a trip at all.  

One of the things that surprised researchers was that the highest levels of happiness seemed to occur leading up to the vacation… as opposed to during the trip… or post trip.

Maybe you can identify with that.  

Seriously… think about vacations you’ve taken in the past.  

Can you remember the excitement you felt leading up to the trip?  The planning?  The fun you had imagining visiting that one particular restaurant… or riding that one ride you’d heard so much about… or dipping your toes in that sand of that one beach a friend had told you about.  

Ohhhhhhh yeah.  

The anticipation.

I came across another example of this in the book, The Happiness Advantage.  The author cites a study in which people who just thought about watching their favorite movies actually raised their endorphin levels by 27%. 

He said researchers concluded that, 

“Anticipating future rewards can actually light up 

the pleasure centers in your brain 

as much as the actual reward itself will.”

I bet you’ve experienced this too… right?  

Just looking forward to something made you feel better.

It’s like how Dr. Alex Lickerman put it in his book The Undefeated Mind, 

“Anticipating something pleasant seems to 

have almost unequaled power to make our present glow.”

I bet you know exactly what these researchers are talking about.

I bet you’ve felt that anticipation of something new… and got some good mental juice out of it.   Right?  

It feels good.  

And… the research suggests… we can do some things to intentionally harness that joy… and experience the joy… the fun… even the hope that comes from that anticipation… more often.  

Especially IF we’re intentional about it.

Hence… our term: “Intentional Anticipation.

And I’m going to get you those strategies in just a second.

BUT before we go there… I HAVE to speak to a couple of things.

Let’s call them a couple of big ol’ elephants… or maybe… in 2020… better said, a couple of potential grizzly bears in the room.

Here’s the deal… I bet you’re tracking with me… BUT we have to deal with that big ol’ BUT that might be brewing deep down on the inside for you.

We have to admit that our ability to enjoy anticipation has truly taken a beating this year.  

Can I get an amen?

There’s a good chance that if you’re listening to this… heck… if you’re breathing… you’ve had something BIG get postponed or canceled this year.

A trip.  A big event.  Something important.

A graduation. A dance. A wedding. A business event. A vacation. A conference.

Heck… we’ve got a lot of college students that listen to DREAM THINK DO… so there is a VERY good chance it’s impacted the way you’re doing college or even made it so you’re delaying college for the year.  

Or… maybe you have young kiddos… and it’s a day by day thing on whether you’re going to be teaching MATH… SCIENCE… and SOCIAL STUDIES… WHILE also navigating your life and your career.

Or… maybe it’s the 17th hundredth zoom meeting… as opposed to being in the same room with people.

And… heck… even the holidays.  Everything feels like it’s up in the air… and that it constantly has the potential of shifting on us.

So yeah… we’ve got to talk about THAT… right? 

Because if we don’t… this all can seem pretty empty… and all rainbows and unicorns… as opposed to something you can REALLY use.

So… IF YOU ONLY HEAR THIS ONE THING… I would love for it to be this:

INTENTIONAL ANTICIPATION in THIS season means giving yourself permission to cherish and look forward to the small stuff.  

Or… more accurately said… this might mean looking forward to things that we might have considered the “small stuff” in the past… but we’re realizing it’s the wildly BIG stuff.

I’ll give you an example.  

Admittedly… this might be a bit dorky… but I think it will help.

If you’ve been listening to DREAM THINK DO for a while… you know my family is into movies.  

It’s our jam.  

And I don’t know how many opening night movies we’ve been to… but… seriously… if the Matthews clan was looking forward to a movie… there was a VERY good chance… we were there on opening night.

We did it for the excitement of it… the fun of it.  Heck… I didn’t realize it at the time… it was for the anticipation and the novelty of it.

AND to be COMPLETELY honest… we wanted to make sure some major part of the movie or the big twist wasn’t ruined by some jackhole who put a spoiler out on social media.

It was always fun… BUT if I’m honest… it had started to become a bit of a “given” that’s what we’d do.  

Heck, I’ll be the first to say we’d probably even started to take it for granted… and could almost be passe about it.

Well… as you can imagine… we haven’t been to an opening night movie premiere since March.  

So when I heard Wonder Woman 1984 was going to open on Christmas night… I bought tickets that same day I heard about it.  

And we’ve been looking forward to it ever since.

BUT… if I’m being fully honest… I have to admit that part of me that didn’t want to look forward to it… because so many different things have been canceled… or changed… or postponed this year.

So… I had to give myself PERMISSION to look forward to it.

And… as the research would suggest… I’ve been enjoying that sense of anticipation. 

Yes… part of it feels like a risk… BUT… I’m allowing myself to enjoy it.

Now… in full disclosure… I have a backup plan… because in this scenario… if something happens and the movie theater gets shut down for COVID reasons… I’ll grab a subscription to HBO Max… because they’re premiering it on the same day!

By the way… although I really enjoyed the first one… I’m not a HUGE WonderWoman fan.  BUT my wife is a HUGE Wonder Woman fan… and I’m a HUGE fan of my wife… so we’re doing it.  

AND… we’re both allowing ourselves the chance to look forward to it.

Oh… and as a side note… I want to also say… that neither Wonder Woman 1984 or HBO Max are currently sponsors of the DREAM THINK DO podcast…  but we ARE willing to discuss that with you… if you or someone you know… are connected to either.  HA!!!

But seriously… deep down… I realized I had to give myself permission to LOOK FORWARD to something like this again.

I know it might be kind of a weird example… but can you relate?

Here’s another quick example.  

Obviously… many of our family gatherings are looking WAY different.  

Yours probably are too!

I have to admit… around Thanksgiving time… I was pretty GRUMPY about that.

But… as I started to understand this concept of INTENTIONAL ANTICIPATION… especially after THIS year… I started to realize the importance of permission.

That we have to give ourselves permission to… first… feel all the feels.

With this year… we need to give ourselves permission to feel the frustration… the weariness… the crabbiness… all of it.

But then… when we’re ready… to start to also give ourselves permission to look forward to some NEW things.

So… like I said… over Thanksgiving… I was still pretty grumpy about how different things needed to be.

But now… I’m giving myself permission to get creative with some of these NEW… and very hopefully… temporary ways of doing the holidays.

So… we’re going to do a bunch of things with our extended families… virtually… and I’m going to give myself permission to look forward to them and be in the moment as we do them.

And… I’m actually starting to feel the difference.  

I’m starting to feel some hope… some joy… heck… even some fun… start to break through.  

And hey… #realtalk… those feeling have been hard to come by this year.  

And that’s what I want for YOU too.  


So… if you’re tracking with me…  let’s start to talk about some SPECIFIC steps to help us to harness the POWER of INTENTIONAL ANTICIPATION.  



We have to give ourselves the permission to look forward to something again.  

It’s so simple… and so important… 

After that… the rest just flows.  


Get specific with something you want to do or experience.

Now… since it’s 2020 and 2021… we need to keep things simple.  

So, for this to work  RIGHT NOW… these things most likely can’t be BIG things like… global travel… or big events involving thousands of people.

BUT they can be fun… and they can be important things.  

AND… they can pull in some of that NOVELTY we were talking about earlier.

Some examples might be…

  • What’s a park (within a 2 hour radius) you’ve never been to?  
  • Set a date and go check that out. 
  • What’s a favorite movie you haven’t seen in a while?
  • Or… what’s a movie you’ve always wanted to watch… but haven’t?
  • Set a date and watch it together.
  • I’ll put a link to some of the top 100 movies of all time in the show notes to get you some more ideas here.
  • What’s a favorite food we haven’t eaten in a while?
  • Or… what’s a food you’ve always wanted to try?
  • Set a date and cook it together.

The key is to get specific.


Seriously… write it down.  

Or put it on your google calendar.  

Invite someone to do it with you… either virtually or in person.

And then… 



Simply enjoy the anticipation.

That’s right.  

Give yourself permission to enjoy looking forward to it.

And… give yourself permission to not have it have to be PERFECT to enjoy it when that THING comes. 

Sound good? 

I’ll give you one last example as we’re wrapping up.  

As I said earlier… my family is kind of a “movie family.”  

We enjoy watching them and our two sons write, direct and act in some.  

AND… thanks to COVID… both sons are currently home and living with us.

Well… a while back… we were looking for some fun ways to mix things up… find some novelty… and… let’s be real… we were looking for something that couldn’t get canceled or postponed.  

SO… we decided to challenge ourselves to EACH come up with a list of our 10 favorite movies.  

Super simple.  

By the way… this list… was not about how successful they were or their critical acclaim.  

This list was all about the movie’s impact on US… and how much we enjoyed them.

Then… we set up a date to reveal the lists.

And… on that day… we all presented our lists to each other. 

As we did… we each talked through our lists and why each movie was in our top ten.  

It was a lot of fun.

But the best part… is that since then… we’ve been systematically… going through our lists to enjoy the movies together.  

Each month we’ve been setting some time aside to watch a movie and then talk through it.  

It’s been fun and although… I’ll be the first to say… that each movie we’ve watched hasn’t always been my favorite… we’ve had fun and we’ve learned a lot about each other!  

So, I offer that… not as prescriptive but as descriptive of something you could do.

Maybe… for you… it’s not movies… maybe it’s board games.

Or… maybe it’s favorite sports ball memories… (Yeah… sorry… I’m just not much of a sports guy… but you get what I mean!)

Maybe it’s watching favorite youtube videos together.

Decide on something.

Put a date on the calendar… even if it’s tomorrow.

Enjoy the anticipation.

And then… BE in the moment… whether it goes EXACTLY as you planned… or not… enjoy it.

What do you think?  

Are you in?

I hope so.

And one last thing.  

I wanted to share why I think THIS episode might be the most important of our 4 part series.

I’ll TOTALLY admit that I didn’t realize this when we started… but it dawned on me as I was thinking through all of this.

It’s that… I really do think we’re going to need to heal up our ability and our willingness to look forward to stuff.

To anticipate GOOD stuff… and not just dread bad news… postponements and changed plans.

You know what I mean?

I think we’re going to have to work that “hope” muscle and the “anticipation” muscle a bit… because they’ve taken a bit of a beating this year.  


That’s why I think THIS subject is so important.

But hey… if there ever was a time of year to talk about giving yourself permission to feel hope again… and to anticipate some good things…  it seems like Christmas time is the PERFECT time to do that.   

And hey… I know our DREAM THINK DO family is very diverse… and I know that not everyone who’s listening right now celebrates Christmas… but whether you do… or whether you don’t… I hope you know that I love you… and I’m so grateful we’re on this journey together!

And for those who do celebrate CHRISTMAS… I hope you have a wonderful… wonder-filled time!

And to everyone… I hope over this Holiday season…  even though it may look very different than other years… I hope you can find specific things to look forward to… and then get to fully enjoy them… as you’re more fully present and more fully in the moment… as they come!



Okay… just a few last logistics… as we’re wrapping up. 



Hit me up with your thoughts and comments below!   

PLUS… please please please… share this episode.  

If it resonated with you… please share it with others… because I really do think we’re going to need to be intentional about working our “hope” and our “anticipation” muscles… and it’s a whole lot more fun to get to do that together!

And lastly… know I’m going to be taking next few weeks off to be with my family.

So… we’ll skip a week or two and then we’ll be bringing you our next episode… episode 306… which is going to be awesome… and so much fun… in early January.  And I can’t wait to get it to you!

But until then… until we connect again… keep bringing your awesome.  Because the world… needs more of it!

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