Is Looking Forward Holding You Back?

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Looking ForwardPost written by Jack Grabon.

What are you looking forward to right now?  Think about it for a moment.  Perhaps it’s your next meal, the end of a long day, the weekend, an upcoming vacation, meeting that special someone, financial independence, you name it.  And I’m willing to bet you’re comforted by having something to look forward to.  Nothing wrong with that, or is there?

Looking forward to things is essentially living for the future.  This can be a convenient escape when we’re not happy with our current predicament.  I first noticed this one evening at work.  Sitting at my desk, I began feeling down and couldn’t wait for a long workday to end.  Not liking the way I felt, I envisioned all the things I would get done when I got home and how satisfying that would be.

Change Up

But, as I got up to use the bathroom, something within me shifted.  Perhaps it was triggered in part by getting on my feet.  Irregardless, I realized that I’d felt this very same way on many other occasions.  Desperately hoping that my day would end was really just my way of trying to escape from how I felt inside.  It had little to actually do with work.  Upon returning to my desk, I became excited as I saw the pattern reveal itself before me.  I frantically started writing about this insight and didn’t want to leave work.


Looking forward to something ensures that our focus is always somewhere else.  It’s also based on a probable future and only loosely on the reality in front of us.  For me, it was an escape to the cozy confines of my apartment where I imagined myself basking in inner peace.  How that would’ve solved all of my problems, I don’t know.  Sounds kind of crazy if you look at it like that, doesn’t it?

 No Future

These days, it’s almost cliché to say that the future doesn’t exist, or that there is only one continuous now.  If you’ve ever been “in the zone,” in a deep meditative state, etc., then you may have naturally experienced this.  Even if you’re having lofty hopes and aspirations, you are still having them now.  Thus, this is your future, right here, right now.  You are in the midst of creating it.

Putting it all together: the present moment is the future from the perspective of the past.  Reread that sentence until it sinks in.  Therefore, if you’re not content with things as they are now, then why should you expect that you will be magically rescued by the future?  Haven’t you proven to yourself that this doesn’t work, time and again?

The Future Trap

I didn’t mean to induce hopelessness or despair.  On the contrary, looking at things this way opens the door to a freedom that can keep you from falling into what I call “the future trap.”  Anyone in self-help or business circles will tell you that insanity is doing the same things over and over, yet expecting different results.  Shouldn’t the same standard hold true for thinking the same way again and again?

Now What?

The good news and the bad news is the same: we’re creating our futures, right this second.  In fact, your future is never not being constructed.  Whenever you notice that you’re looking forward to or hoping for something, these are signs that you’re falling into the future trap.  When this occurs, bring your attention back to the present and even change things up physically.  For instance, get up if you’re sitting down and take a short walk, even if it’s to the next room.

At first, you will have to bring your focus back to the moment, ad infinitum.  But, look at it as a practice rather than as something to achieve.  This will help keep you grounded in the moment.  It’s ultimately up to you how your moment will be.  This is your future.

Jack Grabon, LCSW-R, CPC practices holistic therapy in NYC, integrating it with life coaching.  He helps those who feel stuck to resolve deep-seated issues in order to live happier, more meaningful lives.  Jack offers in-person sessions, as well as phone and Skype sessions for those outside the city.  Contact him now for a free consultation!

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