We can manage our results by controlling our expectations. If we start thinking about tomorrow and our thoughts center on the challenges, the things we’re afraid of, or the things we have to guard against, we’ll simply be playing defense in our life the next day. We’ll be so focused on stopping those things from going wrong that those issues are the only things we’ll see. Not to mention that it’s a lousy way to go to bed.

Seth Godin points out the difference between anticipation and anxiety and how these similar-seeming words can make a world of difference in how we see what’s coming. Anticipating tomorrow is pretty different from above, as it’s much more focused on positive outcomes and opportunity.

Either viewpoint is self fulfilling to a degree because we all see what we want to see. For example, if you’ve got a big sales meeting tomorrow you can either spend all evening today worrying about all the ways it can go wrong or get excited at what it will mean if you get them to sign. Even when times are tough and there’s a lot riding on that meeting, you can either say “If I don’t close this sale I’m screwed,” or “If I do close this sale things will be back on track.”

Which mental state do you think is going to put a spring in your step tomorrow morning?

If focusing on avoiding negative outcomes is playing defense, anticipating opportunity is playing offense. Rather than being relatively passive and simply trying to fend off the bad, you’re actively pursuing what you hope to achieve. Take it from someone who has played way too much defense. Even if you’re successful, avoiding the bad still doesn’t equal achieving the good; it only puts you in a gray area.