What to do when you’ve nothing to look forward to

As a kid, there’s always something to look forward to.

Christmas, your birthday, the weekend, summer, winter, spring, autumn. A new bike.

Generally a kid’s life is one big slice of anticipation, tinged with the frustration that nothing ever happens as quickly as you want it to.

But as the years pass by, it can sometimes seem that there’s less to look forward to. Life may feel humdrum, with a distinct absence of carrots dangling from the end of the stick.

However perhaps there’s a little, not unreasonable, trick that you can play on yourself.

Often we gain even more pleasure anticipating something than we do actually experiencing it.

So if it feels as though there are no big things to look forward to, actively anticipate the smaller.

When you’re working, imagine how good it will feel when you down tools at the end of the day.

Going to speak to a friend over the next few days? Visualise how warming this will be.

Reading a good book at the moment? Start to anticipate the feeling of getting stuck back into it before you do.

Even when you’re not a kid, there’s still always something to look forward to.

Sometimes, though, you have to seek it out.

28 thoughts on “What to do when you’ve nothing to look forward to

  1. Think you’re absolutely spot on with this observation/nudge.

    I think it is also describes being really aware, or mindful, of what is important to us. This heightened awareness of anticipation can also be extended into really being mindful when the event happens and noticing the enjoyment, warm feelings etc

  2. I feel like I have things I SHOULD be looking forward to but my financial situation tinges them all with dread. I love halloween but I will probably only be able to afford 1 beer with friends. I have a trip to London planned and I’m dreading having to feed myself with meals out and London prices. I don’t know how to look forward to these things when, in the back of my mind, it’ll end up stressful all because of money.

  3. Please , how would you advise someone in her 50’s who has lung disease, hypothyroidism and depression, who has no children or parents and is unemployed due to health and lives in one room how to look forward to something ? She is dreading christmas, does not have her own transport or friends close by. She is a person whose has weeks go by without speaking to anyone and is unable to do much activity due to breathlessness and does not have any services or resources available to her. She has tried online communities , reading, music radio and telephone but they do not give anything to look forward to as there is no sense of purpose achievement and her esteem is non existent and due to her circumstances is lonely.
    Thank you for your help

    1. Marg, thanks for posting here. I’m truly sorry to hear about your current situation. You’re facing so many truly big challenges, and I fully understand that it must feel as though you’ve little to look forward to.

      My real point in writing this post, though, was that even when you can’t look forward to ‘big’ things, I think there’s merit in trying to have positive anticipation about very tiny things like having a cup of coffee or watching a favourite TV show.

      The very act of anticipating something, even if it’s a microscopic anticipation in the scale of things, might — and I emphasize the *might* –help the tiniest amount. Every little counts.

      You did a great and brave thing by posting here. Thank you.

    2. oh I hear you!!!! I realize it has been years since you posted this, but boy did it speak to me !! I’m pretty much in the same boat and hate it, i have nothing to look forward too and all i see year after year is everyone around me having lives: buying homes, married, children, grandchildren, family, holidays, cars, fun times together etc etc …. its torture… and to make it worse… peoples shallow pat answers and false hope… i hate it !!! i have my mmts where i am ok but then being sick and alone day after day and night after night takes its toll. No, i don’t have anything either… it sucks big time… I can only hope that when i do die, things will be better then. But here and now, for some of us, it isn’t good at all. I get so tired of living. The older i get the narrow the opportunities for things to get better are. I only wish i could give you the biggest hug right now. And to tell you that i identify with what you wrote. I also wish i could ease your loneliness and pain by being a faithful friend. Thank you for your honesty, its refreshing. Take care

  4. The urge to get up each morning with the intent or need to go to the airport, to fulfill an aircraft flight of some type, X-country, charter, or local area with a beginning student pilot. It is difficult to realize that I am no longer physically qualified to sign out either a helicopter or airplane, to use as I once was capable of. My medical provider has verbally cancelled my vehicle operators license. All the reasons are summed up into one, fourty-seven months of exposure to agent orange and other defoliation herbicides in Korea , Thailand and Vietnam, over a twenty-one years of mlitary service. VA is reluctant to acknowledge my service connected disabilities-completely.

  5. Wow, so helpful. Especially for somebody like Marg. I can see this is a wonderful place to make friends.

  6. Your response to Marg was extremely patronising. We’re supposed to look forward to a cup of coffee? A TV show? I can barely believe anyone would be so damned condescending.

    1. Wtf? I don’t think the response is at all consdescending. Marg and everyone else needs tools to lift us up when our moods are tanking. Absolutely look forward to that warm shower, cup of coffee and tv show!!! Anything and everything is valid. In fact, it’s the smaller things that get most of us through the day because life can be challenging regardless of age, health, number of children and tangible achievements. I noticed, Jan, you didn’t provide an alternative. Because there isn’t one. And that’s ok. This sounds like the movie, My Dinner With Andre where two men chatted about whether enoying the morning newspaper and a cup of tea is something or nothing.

      Spot on advice, Jon Cousins. Thanks for your post.

      1. Neither do I. That poor woman really needs all the support.
        I look forward to reruns of ” Lets Make A Deal” nightly on the Buzzer Network.
        Maybe because it reminds me of when times were a little simpler.

    2. Some of us have such limited means financially or due to health problems that we have to be really creative and find tiny things to give ourselves something to look forward to. Maybe something as little as watching a bird or a squirrel that comes to your window each day. And yes, that is difficult and very small, but its better than nothing. I have suffered with severe clinical depression (began when I was only 8 years old) my whole life. Sometimes just to be able to drag myself out of bed, I try to make sure I have a yummy granola bar or flavored coffee to make getting up worth it.

  7. I often feel like all I look forward to lately is being able to retire. We are (my wife & I) about 7 to 9 years away from doing so, hopefully. As I get up in years I feel that instead of looking forward to things I look back in retrospect on things much more. Christmastime doesn’t have the same meaning for example. Everyone is gone now. The kids are grown and out the door for years now as well. It’s basically the two of us.

    It’s a chore to get up and head to the office every morning for us both. It seems like I am just putting up with having a job than appreciating the fact that I do. I just look forward to not having to have said job. The light is at the end of the tunnel for us now so to speak.

    Does anyone else have this mindset ? Have things lost some of their luster ?

    Thanks for listening.

    1. At least you have a wife and you have kids. I have no one. I’d love to be a wife and mother but men now don’t care about the important things like previous generations. Men (20-50) are completely self seeking and only care about travelling the world, earning more money, finding someone to hang out with or sleep with then moving on. No one is looking to settle down, everyone is looking for a girlfriend but not a wife, someone just to look pretty next to them and to sleep with regardless of their personality. It’s so terribly shallow and immature but this is the norm now. At a previous time someone like me who tries their best to be a good person, to help others, to prepare herself for being a wife and mother and refuses to have causal relationship and keeps herself pure would be valued but now men just value someone who is going to fulfill their physical needs and who they can have fun with. So that is most women as people don’t wait for marriage anymore and so they both give everything to each other, if course it fails because the relationship had no deep roots and they do it all over again every year or two. Then I come into contact with these young men who don’t even value me as a woman because there are so many to choose from and ones who will sleep with them after a few dates then move in and happily play the role of wife until it goes belly up, men who don’t truly value intimacy because they see it as a minimum and regularly watch porn or programs with nudity and graphic imagery like Game of Thrones. Men don’t seek to settle themselves financially either. Before at 21 a man had a stable job but now at 31 people are still chopping and changing and so carefree and so it’s clear they don’t want a family anymore soon unless they think a wife and kids can survive on oxygen alone…
      Men now are so very lost and there’s so many women now who are permanently single, childless and not getting any younger who can’t find a decent man to marry.

      What I’m saying is be happy to have a partner and children because that’s two things I’ve always wanted that I realise I’ll probably never have andI wouldn’t wish this endless solitude on anyone.

      1. Here is the acid test…..I agree that people are self-centered and shallow. I am reminded everyday….But if you saw a man in a wheelchair – would you give him a chance?

        Or would you allow fear of the unknown to prevent you from giving him serious consideration?

      2. Here is the acid test…..I agree that people are self-centered and shallow. I am reminded everyday….But if you saw a man in a wheelchair – would you give him a chance?

        Or would you allow fear of the unknown to prevent you from giving him serious consideration?

  8. Dear Mark,
    I absolutely agree with you – so much has lost its lustre as we grow older. I sometimes think we have to spend even more time trying to put sparkle back into things to make them more exciting, such as Christmas. Our daughter, age 24, – who still lives with us – feels Christmas has lost the magic and of course it has but by adding quirky, exciting liddle extras during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I try to out a bit of magic back….eek out the gifts even if they are just silly, but funny things so the fun lasts longer.
    As for work and the physically getting up for it daily, I think my husband and I are in the same boat as you…for OH, the dread of having to get up before dawn and travel up to two hours if the traffic is bad, then a full day’s work and travel home…yup..he’s looking forward to retirement!!!
    I suppose we have to put a bit of sparkle back into what we do together at home??
    Best wishes to all,

  9. Ya Jon, you are totally right. I lost my well paid job last year and I am still thinking of the malicious gossips my ex colleague said about me. From now now I will not let them get to me. they can say whatever they want. Even though my current sales job is not paying me so well and I might risk losing it again due to poor sales, I am glad that at least I still have a job. I used to fret over not finding a husband but now (age 37) I am truly grateful due to my job insecurity. I have plenty of ‘me’ time. I shouldn’t worried about my marital status anymore. I see happiness in going home everyday after work and saying hi to parents. Going swimming and even eating cup noodles make me happy! There is no point in thinking too much.

  10. I don’t feel I have that much look forward to at all unless it’s something or two that I happen to get from the store. There seems to be hardly ‘happening’ where I live. I can’t just pick up and go since I have to watch my pennies ever so closely. The major successes I tried to make I ended up failing at. I don’t get out all that much and I’m still kind of young. I’m being warned in dreams to be careful of emotions before they could wreck my life. I don’t seem to have much good news or hope in store. Sometimes I feel like I’m more like ruin my life than really make it a dream. which is why I’ve kind of hated my rather negative temperament. I feel stuck in my negativity taking care of old parents. What hope do I have? I pray but it doesn’t mean it helps very much.

    1. Thank you for finding this post from almost four years ago, Cath, and for sharing your story. I’m sorry, though, that it’s not a happier one. It does sound as though life’s pretty challenging for you right now.

      I wonder if there’s someone you can open up to in “real life”, rather than online? You’ve been honest in your reflections, which is brilliant. It might be nice to do this in a situation where it might spark a conversation. Just a thought.

      I know it’s tough. I do send you my best wishes.

  11. How in the world do I have something to look forward to when I’m not able to get out all that much and I don’t have friends close enough or more like available enough to come and see me? It gets difficult at times.

    1. They’re not enough, Jon, you’re right.

      Perhaps something small might just provide a sliver of light, as it has done for me in the past.

      I do take your point, though. Thank you for making it.

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