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Consult a counselor to help you find ways to look forward to things in the future. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
Many people manage to get through difficulties in life by focusing on what they have to look forward to.
Some folks endure weekly work drudgery because they know there will be concerts or brunches with friends on the weekend. Others might save money frugally because they have a big vacation somewhere warm coming up in a few months.
But what happens if you need something to look forward to but have nothing of note on the immediate horizon? If you’re always asking yourself what there is to get excited about, it can make you feel a bit disappointed by life.
Fortunately, there are several different ways to find or create things to look forward to. Let’s take a look at some of them, and how you can start implementing them today.
1. Plan fun situations rather than waiting for them to happen.
Many people have a calendar of events to help keep them moving forward in life. They literally count the days in between such events in order to battle through the boring bits.
But when there don’t seem to be any such events in sight – or they won’t be able to attend said events for various reasons – depression can ensue.
The way to work around this is to create your own events rather than merely waiting for them to pop up. Take a look at the types of fun things that you enjoy and look forward to the most, and then put your time and energy toward making those occur.
For instance, let’s say that you eagerly anticipate opportunities to try out new dishes at different restaurants, but you won’t be able to go out to eat for a while. This is a perfect opportunity for you to expand your culinary repertoire. Join one of those meal creation clubs that will deliver ingredients and cooking instructions right to your door. Or pick up some cookbooks and experiment with new spices and techniques.
Alternatively, you can arrange to have dinner parties with a few close friends. Couples and families can take turns hosting, and you can all try out different dishes. You can even turn them into theme nights by basing an entire meal on a historical era, literary work, or film.
This indulges your desire to try out different foods, while also expanding your skill sets.
2. Start a long-term project.
One of the best ways to have something to look forward to is working on a project that’s going to take at least a year (if not more) to complete.
For example, you can look forward to driving a really amazing vintage car that you’re working on restoring. Or getting a certificate, diploma, or degree for an online education course.
Start a project that’s going to require regular attention and work for you to complete. Create a set of SMART goals for it, and even have a whiteboard or similar on which you write a work-back schedule with target goal dates and deadlines.
Every time you reach a goal, make sure to celebrate it. And that doesn’t just mean putting extra sparkle on the vision board.
Did you finally finish piecing together the chassis for that 1958 Chevy Impala you’re in love with? That’s cause for celebration! Order in your favorite food, crank up the tunes, and mark that as a major win before tackling the next part of the project.
Did you get an A on the paper you submitted? Same thing: revel in your success with good food and drink, and then turn your gaze toward the next goalpost.
3. Put together an entertainment calendar.
Are you the type of person who really looks forward to concerts, movies, book releases, and other forms of entertainment like that? Then get yourself an amazing, big wall calendar and fill it up with things you can enjoy from the comfort of home.
Will a new, exciting Netflix series be released in a week’s time? Write that on the calendar and decorate the square around it with glitter, stickers, etc. Then do the same thing for several other fun things that’ll be coming out too.
In fact, fill up that calendar with just about everything that entertains you and brings you joy. Schedule podcast listening times, and make note of when great books are being published.
Heck, if you really enjoy reading, make sure that you have a Goodreads account. You’ll be able to get great new recommendations and keep lists of all the books you’re looking forward to reading. You might also make some new online friends in the process.
4. Schedule “special days.”
Are you the type of person who has a set of dishes or glassware that’s only used on super special occasions? Maybe Grandma’s porcelain and crystal only comes out of the china cabinet for Christmas or Eid. Or perhaps there’s a special drink or meal that’s only served once or twice a year.
Well, create some more “special days” to look forward to. Choose a few dates that are important to you and put them in that calendar we mentioned above.
Do you love Halloween? Then start decorating the house on October 1st and create a countdown calendar for that entire month, culminating in one heck of a shindig on the 31st. Or perhaps the colorful Holi festival is more your jam.
Whatever dates mean the most to you, make sure you schedule a ton of fun activities to gear up excitement toward that particular date. Then when the day finally arrives, get dressed up, light those fancy candles you’ve set aside, play the music playlist you’ve been cultivating for this occasion, and have a blast!
5. Create regular rituals with your friends or family.
It’s easy to think that there’s nothing to look forward to when your diary looks empty. But as soon as you begin to fill that diary up, you won’t worry about where the next bout of fun or excitement is going to come.
A good way to do this is to have certain days of the month reserved for particular events with specific people.
Perhaps the first Sunday of the month could be when your whole family gets together for a roast dinner. Maybe you and a good friend play tennis fortnightly on a Friday evening. Or you might even have quarterly meetups where your old school friendship group commits to doing something just to keep in touch.
The benefit of rituals over ad-hoc event planning is that you are far more likely to do things on a regular basis. There is no great thought or planning required. Because, let’s face it, how many times have months passed by without you seeing certain friends simply because no one initiated anything?
6. Get involved with a parcel or letter exchange program.
Did you know that there are exchange groups for pretty much every demographic under the sun? The idea behind this is rather like a classic Pen Pal exchange – you’re teamed up with another person and then you either write letters to one another, or put together little gift boxes full of fun items, snacks, etc.
It’s a great way to make connections with other people, even at a distance. Even better if you do an exchange with people from around the world! You may have the opportunity to check out items from places you’ve always dreamed of visiting. This can also be a perfect chance to practice reading and writing different languages, depending on where your exchange partner lives.
The downside to this is that it can be difficult to output if you’re feeling depressed and/or depleted. You may not have the mental or physical energy to write an enthusiastic, engaging letter, let alone put together a bunch of fun things for the other person to enjoy.
Or vice versa: the person you’re exchanging with might be going through a hard time and just can’t do much at all.
This can lead to sadness and disappointment at either end, so only do this kind of program if you feel that you can commit to it. If you can, it’ll be a wonderful experience and you’ll get to meet new people and explore new items.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel that you have the bandwidth for this sort of thing, try the following instead…
7. Subscribe to monthly surprise boxes.
This is similar to the exchange programs, only you don’t have to put any time or effort into writing letters and curating gift boxes for other people.
Instead, you find a box in a theme that you enjoy, and then pay a set fee to receive surprises every month.
You can find these kinds of subscription box programs online, or on sites such as Cratejoy. There, you can discover monthly boxes filled with all the stuff you like.
These boxes can contain items ranging from tea and books to beer and jerky. You can get knitting or crafting boxes, makeup and jewellery, faith- or spirituality-related items, gardening, games, snacks, camping/hunting… you name it, you’ll find it.
Whether you subscribe to one box or several, you’ll be able to look forward to special little surprises every single month. In fact, depending on the box you subscribe to, you may discover that the items therein keep you engaged and entertained until the next parcel arrives!
8. Be creative.
Do you already have a hobby that you enjoy doing? If not, definitely pick one up. Having a creative outlet of some sort is absolutely vital. Not only does creativity keep our spirits strong, but there will always be the opportunity for another creative project to look forward to.
Let’s say you really enjoy painting. You’ll always have the chance to expand upon your current skill set by learning different paint techniques. For example, you might want to try oil painting after using watercolors for a while.
Do you like to carve wooden items like toys or jewellery pieces? Perhaps you’ll try a larger project like a wall hanging. Or perhaps you’ll invest in a more exotic type of wood than the kind you’re accustomed to working with.
When you cultivate creativity, entire worlds of possibility open up for you.
9. Schedule regular self-care rituals.
Are regular haircuts, nail appointments, or massages on your list of things that you normally look forward to? Perhaps you have a favorite hairstylist or barber whom you love to visit every few weeks for a trim. Or you feel better when you get your shoulders and back beaten up on regular basis.
If you don’t have the option to go to your favorite salon or therapy center, then find a way to bring them to you instead.
Call up your hairdresser or barber and find out if they ever do house calls. If they don’t, find one who does. There are plenty of freelance stylists out there who prefer to work in their clients’ homes instead of salons.
The same goes for nail technicians, aestheticians, massage therapists, reiki healers, and most other professionals in the self-care oeuvre.
If you can find a good freelancer through word of mouth, that’s great: you’ll have other people vouching for their skills and prices. Once you find some self-care helpers you really click with, you can schedule regular “home spa” days to get properly pampered.
On days when you know that you’re getting your hair done or a professional massage, make sure you have amazing food to enjoy too. Prepare some smoothies or nourishing meals in advance, get a great moisturizing masque or some of your favorite shower/bath items, and then get plenty of rest.
10. Create and stick to boundaries around work.
Sometimes, it can feel as though there’s nothing to get excited about because you’re spending most of your waking hours working or thinking about work.
And how can you begin to anticipate something non-work when your mind is so utterly focused on all the things that are happening in the office or need to be done to meet the next deadline? You can’t.
Which is why it is critical that you create boundaries regarding when you will work and when you will not. These boundaries are important not just for your employers, but also for yourself. Both they and you have to respect the boundaries you set.
Tell your employers that you won’t be responding to work texts after a certain hour on weekdays, or at all on weekends. Turn off your phone notifications at a certain time, and don’t bother checking emails on your days off.
Remind them that your “off” time is sacrosanct and you’re not willing to sacrifice it for something that can most likely wait until you’re on official hours again.
If your employer pushes your boundaries repeatedly and even hints that you won’t be considered for a promotion unless you muck in during off hours, you might want to think about looking for a new job.
11. Practice mindfulness.
One of the best ways to find things to look forward to is to recognize the wonderful things that happen to you on a constant basis.
When we’re feeling despondent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that nothing good ever happens. Instead of recognizing all the great things that we get to enjoy on a daily basis, we’re hyper focused on the perception of lack.
Instead, consider writing in a gratitude journal and make a point of noting down all the lovely things you can enjoy on a daily basis. A hot shower, perfect cup of tea sipped outside, time spent cuddling your pet, etc.
12. Try not to worry too much about the distant future.
Perhaps when you say you have nothing to look forward to, you are referring to a time way off in the future. You just can’t see yourself having a better life than you have now.
The truth is, none of us can predict that far out into our respective futures. We simply cannot know what might happen and how things that do happen might change the course of our lives.
For instance, perhaps you have been single a long time and you have nothing to look forward to in a relationship sense because you’re convinced you’ll end up alone forever.
Or maybe you work two jobs to make ends meet and the prospect of a retirement on the most basic of state pensions is not one you’re looking forward to.
Wondering and worrying so much about these and other things that may or may not happen years or decades from now only serves to take away your enjoyment of today.
You don’t know who you might meet and fall in love with. You can’t predict your employment situation for the rest of your life. You might be able to do something about those things. You might not. Either way, just try to quit thinking about those things full stop.
Focus on today, tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe even next year, but limit your thoughts about things that are further out than that because humans are just plain bad at predicting the future.
13. Speak to a mental health professional.
As a final note, though a very important one, mental health plays a massive role in whether or not we feel we have things to look forward to. People who are struggling with depression or other mental health issues may feel as though the things that they used to enjoy just don’t make them as happy anymore.
They may feel pessimistic about what their life will look like in the future, especially if things they have always loved may not be available to them anymore. This is particularly common for people who have experienced life-altering circumstances like accidents or illnesses.
If you’re feeling intense depression and can’t seem to drum up the desire to do anything anymore, please consider speaking with a professional counselor. They may be able to help you move past blocks that you’re struggling with so you can start to feel enthusiasm about life again.
In some situations, medication might help you get through the worst of things until you can find your feet once more. For others, cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy can help shift perspectives from pessimism and despair to hope and optimism.
Want something to look forward to in life but are struggling to figure out what that is? Speak to a counselor today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced counselors on BetterHelp.com.
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