Intentions vs Expectations

Funny how the same ideas can come up in different places in my life.

I am taking a online photography class offered by Kim Manley Ort called The 50mm Project which is focused on getting to know your 50mm lens better.  I am particularly enjoying this class because unlike some other classes I have taken, Kim is focusing more on how to see with your camera rather than the technical aspects. As I think more about how I want a photo to turn out, I instinctively start thinking about the settings that I want to use which forces me to figure out how they work. Brilliant. And effective.

The exercise this week is on people, specifically street photography, and one of our readings was Kim's thoughts on Brandon Stanton (of Humans of New York fame). In it she quotes Julie Daly on expectations:

Expectations limit our perceptions. They limit not only our perception of others, and ourselves, but also our perception of creative opportunities.

I've also been participating in the latest offering from Julie Bogart (of Brave Writer fame), the Homeschool Alliance.  Again, Julie is not focused on telling you what your homeschooling should look like, but rather on helping you figure out how you want it to look. Once you have an idea of that, it is easier to find the tools for making it happen. Too often we start with the tools and try to make them work before really understanding what we are trying to achieve. The readings so far are not even focused specifically on homeschooling, but rather on "the adventure of living" and understanding the ebbs and flow of life and how we experience those. The more we observe about ourselves and how we approach things like learning and how we experience life, the more we gain insight into our kids. Lots of food for thought.

While we have been discussing these ideas in relation to our homeschooling, one thing has come up over and over our expectations affect our interpretation of what is going on in our lives as well as our enjoyment (and often in a negative way).

I like how Kim puts it in another article, A Different Kind of Intention:

Often, the word intention is used in a way that means manifesting some future goal or situation or outcome. This may or may not work because there are always things that are out of our control. We may not get the desired result and then we are disillusioned.

However, intention in the moment is almost always guaranteed to work. For example, if we are open to seeing color, we will see color. However, we don’t know which colors we will see. We are open to whatever arises.

This is a major difference in approach.

In the second case, the intention comes from how we show up. We are in control of ourselves. So, instead of setting an intention for a desired result “out there,” we set the intention for a desired way of being, for example, an intention to be open or to be kind or not to judge or to see beauty. Imagine the power in that!

I've always struggled with finding a rhythm to my days. I've recently realized that schedules really work against my natural inclinations...I am much more of a "go with the flow" kind of gal. Tell me I "have" to do something and I resist (yes, even if I am the one doing the telling). I also get bored if my days are too constant. Yet going with the flow can often lead to not getting much done. I have found that the days where I have a general idea of what I want to get accomplished seem to go the best. I think that it has to do with the idea of setting my intention but letting go of my expectations.

I think I am going to have to sit with that one a little bit to figure out exactly what that means for me. But it is interesting to contemplate.