Anticipation can be the greatest form of pleasure some say, and there is no doubt that having something to look forward to is a great way to maintain positivity in retirement.

When the structures of a working life fall away it is important to build new structures and routines that work. One of the key things to build into your life is the pleasure of anticipation (having something to look forward to).

The things I look forward to

One of the most important ways for me to maintain a sense of positivity is to have something to look forward to. In fact I like to have lots of things to look forward to, big and small, near and far in time, plus lots of things that are free as well as some things that require a financial investment of some scale.

I like to plan activities that will bring me pleasure through anticipation as well as the actuality. I have written before that when planning international travel the anticipation that builds is a large part of the pleasure of the journey. But I also look forward to many ‘smaller’ things in life and we make a point of planning activities and scheduling them into our calendars to make sure we always have something to look forward to. Towards the end of the week we will talk about things we might do on the weekend (along with the routine tasks like washing, ironing and cleaning of course – no I can’t say I look forward to those, although I do look forward to the outcome).

It can be big or small but it must be something in the future that I can connect to and look forward to. It might be planning an overseas trip or it might be a walk down by the river and a coffee looking out over the view.

Exploring your local area can be something to look forward to
Exploring your local area can be something to look forward to

Creating a list of things to look forward to

As I look at my calendar for the next 4 weeks I have these things planned

  • Pilates class – I never thought I would look forward to exercise but I do!
  • Classic Cars and Vintage Guitars – a free event on this weekend
  • Sunday morning Farmers Markets
  • Family coming to stay on next Sunday night
  • A walk along the river and a coffee on the weekends
  • Styling You 10 year celebration in Brisbane and catching up with friends there
  • A posh wine dinner which some neighbours invited us to attend with them
  • Getting more power points in our lounge room and having the stereo wired in

And that is just the beginning; as the weeks go by we will add more to that list. In the longer term we have begun to map out a very high level plan for some international travel next year, and I am already anticipating a Belgian beer or two 😉

Travel is always a source of positive anticipation
Travel is always a source of positive anticipation

Thoughts on creating positive anticipation in your life

  • You don’t have to plan things that are expensive
  • You don’t have to do activities with others. Julia Cameron created the concept of ‘The Artists Date’ – time out for yourself doing something pleasurable. Read her books for ideas
  • You don’t always have to be the organiser – be open to invitations and ideas that others suggest
  • Create positive anticipation in things that you might consider routine – like I said I haven’t really managed this for housework, but I do now anticipate how much better I will feel after Pilates.
  • Leave some room for spontaneity
  • Have a mix of imminent and further out activities – make sure you note them all down so you can check your list if you are feeling a bit bored.
  • Have a mix of activities across the various parts of your life.
  • Consider the limitations that weather might present, and have a back up activity for weather dependent plans.
Try a new restaurant or cafe with sweet anticipation
Try a new restaurant or cafe with sweet anticipation

A checklist of things to look forward to

Use this list as a memory jogger when putting your list together

  • Having visitors to stay
  • Going to the movies
  • A phone call with family and/or friends
  • Watching a favourite television show or Netflix series
  • Trying a new recipe
  • A manicure and/or pedicure
  • A new book to read – free from your local library
  • A fresh hairdo
  • Browsing shops online or window shopping in situ
  • A massage
  • A coffee and a slice of cake in a favourite cafe
  • Learning something new – a language, a craft etc.
  • Reading travel brochures and dreaming about your next trip
  • Checking in with friends on social media
  • Pay day (yep we still have pay days in our house)
  • Listening to a favourite radio show or music album
  • A visit to family or friends
  • A day out exploring your local area – driving, cycling or walking
  • An afternoon nap in the sun
  • Tweaking your home decor with a new cushion or throw (or just moving things around for a new look)
  • Clean sheets!
  • Fresh flowers
  • A new outfit or a new accessory
  • Seeds popping up out of the ground
  • A birthday celebration – for you or for someone else
  • Completing a creative project
  • Dinner and drinks at a new or favourite restaurant
  • Spring!
Anticipate the flavours of a new recipe
Anticipate the flavours of a new recipe

We like to use The Wheel of Life as a planning tool and within the wheel it is possible to create positive anticipation in every area of your life. Why not take a look at the wheel now and create yourself a list of things to look forward to.

What things do you look forward to in life? Do you find it helpful to have a list of things that create positive anticipation or do you prefer spontaneity? Do you prefer time alone or activities with others?