I have no goals in life (+How depression can make this happen)

This article will discuss how depression can affect people to a point in which they lose all of their goals and ambitions in life. For that, it will explain what is the relationship between depression and purpose, and why having a purpose is important. 

Along with that, the article will also suggest a guideline on what to do to cope with this situation, so you don’t feel like you lost yourself completely because of depression. 

How does depression cause me to lose my goals in life?

Depression affects people in many ways. It doesn’t only make you feel sad, it changes your whole view of the world and yourself. It impacts your desires, purposes, and in all that, your goals in life.

When you are depressed, you can feel as if life lost its colors. All the things that constitute your personality change. Even if you were a happy, extroverted person, you become a more isolated one, with less energy to do things.

With your goals, it is no different. Because the world and life have turned into meaningless things, it is hard to keep caring and have a purpose in life as you did before. You may find it hard to do even the smallest moves, causing life goals, which are usually things that take a lot of effort to fulfill, to become impossible to reach.

Depression also causes you to feel less energetic and focusing can also become harder. With that, keeping your mind on your goals is increasingly hard. Another aspect of your feelings that change with depression is your self-esteem, and your sense of self-worth.

You start to question your capacity and ability and see it mostly in a negative manner. This can make it easier for you to give up on your goals in life. It can even be a defensive way to not be frustrated, since you believe you won’t be able to reach your goals, so you don’t even try.

Depression and having a goal in life are extremely connected. Research done by Desai and colleagues showed that not only does a depressed person lose its purpose, but it might be that the loss of a goal can cause people to get depressed.

In that research, people have shown that, as they start to lose touch with their goals in life, they start to develop symptoms of depression, but since the loss of goals is not something that happened at once, they focused mainly on that, instead of starting to look for help with depression.

With all this said, it becomes clear how depression can affect people in every aspect of their life. Aside from that, it became clear how not having a goal can also lead to a negative impact on a person’s life. But let’s discuss a little about why having a purpose in life is so important.

Why is having a purpose important?

Having a sense of purpose is something that can cause you to stay emotionally balanced. It is what can help you deal with negative events in your life, and keep you focused on what you desire. 

In research done by Hill and colleagues in 2018, it was shown that having a purpose can give you a better outlook in life. It can also help you deal with stressful situations better, since you can put it under perspective, based on your purposes.

It is also something that can preserve your cognitive functions. It can keep your memory, and your ability to make decisions. A person that leads a meaningful life, one that has purpose also has a lower chance of developing dementia as they age.

When you are depressed it might be hard to connect to the goals you had before. So let’s talk about ways you can try to set new goals for yourself, and how you can achieve them.

How can I not lose track of my goal when battling depression?

When you are living with depression, it might be hard to stick to those goals you had before. They can simply have lost their meaning to you, or it may take more of you than you can give at the moment.

So let’s discuss ways you can keep some goals but adjust to how you feel at the moment. 

Set smaller goals 

When you are depressed, many of your abilities have changed. Although it is important to not surrender to this, it is good to embrace what you can do nowadays. So set yourself smaller goals, this will make it easier for you to keep track of your achievements and not allow you to feel so frustrated.

To do that, you might want to write down what you want to do, in how much time, using a realistic measure according to how you feel at the moment, with a realistic outcome. This can help you plan, and by having it in writing, you can tick what you’ve done, so you feel you accomplished it. 

Don’t blame yourself 

When you are depressed you constantly have a negative view of yourself. But if you want to get in touch with your new goals, try to be more caring and accepting of yourself. This can make it easier for you to motivate yourself.

And if you ever notice that starting things by yourself is hard, it can be a good idea to get in touch with your support network and ask for help. For example, if you want to put exercising as a goal, ask a friend if they are open to doing it with you. This can make you more committed to it.

Try to be positive and trust you can do it

When you are depressed, you are usually overwhelmed with negative thoughts. You might set a simple goal for yourself like going for a small walk each day. But with time your mind can start to tell you that you are not able to do that. 

Try to stay clear of that thought, and just remind yourself that, even if you take a long time to take this walk, or if you do a shorter one in a day you don’t feel so good, just keeping what you planned is already a big achievement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): How does depression cause me to lose my life goals?

Why don’t I have any motivation?

Not having the motivation to do things in life can happen for many reasons. It might be that you are avoiding the discomfort of doing something, it can be because you believe you won’t be good at it, which can indicate self-doubt, or the thing might make you feel bored. 

You can have trouble feeling tired because of all the things you are handling in your life at the moment. Aside from that, it might be a sign of a mental health issue, such as depression. Or it could be that you are not committed to reaching your goal.

Is it common to have no ambition?

It might be a sign that something is not well if a person has no ambitions. But here it is important to remember that ambition is related to wanting something, and people can want many different things.

So what may seem like a lack of ambition to one person, might just be that the other person is desiring another type of thing. What might be something to worry about is if you live each day as a repetition of the one before and don’t have the need to achieve anything in life.

Does depression have a cure?

No, professionals usually say that depression gets in remission. Since having a previous depressive episode is something that causes people to have a higher chance of developing depression, it might be hard to talk about a cure.  

What is discussed over the treatment is how to decrease the intensity of the depressive symptoms as a way to improve the person’s quality of life and allow them to get back control of how they feel.

How can I identify my sense of purpose?

If you are trying to reconnect with your goals, there are some questions you can ask yourself. The first one is about when you feel more fulfilled. This will help you reflect on what matters the most to you. 

Asking yourself what, in other people’s life, causes you to admire them is also a good way to learn what are things that bring you joy. By answering this you will use the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side”, to make your grass look lovely.

Another way to reflect on your purpose is by asking yourself what you would like to do if you had no responsibilities. This will let you answer truthfully about your deepest desires if societal roles didn’t play a part in your life.

And finally, you might want to tell, or write, your life story to yourself, it can help you take a closer look at it and decide what you want the next chapter of your life to be like.

Having no goals can lead to suicide?

Having goals is extremely important. And although sometimes it is hard to connect with yourself and discover what your true goals are, having it can offer a sense of belonging and purpose to your life.

When that is lacking, you might feel adrift, and in that feeling of being lost, suicide can come to mind if you ever feel being lost is too difficult for you. It can come as a way to just end suffering or the constant chase for meaning. Suicide can turn the meaning, and when that is the case, people will usually act on the plan.


This article discussed how depression and losing the goals in your life are related. For that, the article showed briefly what depression is, and how going through it can impact your life goals. Along with that, the article showed why having a purpose is important in life.

Not only that, the article showed how people battling with depression can cope with this, and try to maintain some of their planning and goals to not lose everything to depression.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.


Hill PL, Sin NL, Turiano NA, Burrow AL, Almeida DM. Sense of Purpose Moderates the Associations Between Daily Stressors and Daily Well-being, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 52, Issue 8, August 2018, Pages 724–729, https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kax039

Desai, M. U., Wertz, F. J., Davidson, L., & Karasz, A. (2019). An investigation of experiences diagnosed as depression in primary care—From the perspective of the diagnosed. Qualitative Psychology, 6(3), 268–279. https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000129