Close the Weekend Void

The weekend is not for nothing. 

You're happy it's Friday, you're ready to get down. But you have zero plans. You know there are options. You're hoping your friends will mix with booze and the world will become your oyster. And it is! But what to do, what to do?

If you're like me, you default to the comfortable. No one you know has a good idea of what to do or where to go and by the time the sun goes down pizza, booze, and Netflix doesn't sound so bad. 

And it's not. I'm not saying if there was a petition to ban pizza, booze, and Netflix, I would sign it, our priorities are just a bit mixed up.

Blogger Eric Barker says scientific research shows us that we often do what's easy, not what makes us happiest. No duh, right? Come Saturday morning, being lazy is rarely looked down upon. We're adults now, we can sleep in if we want, Mom!

The problem is this is the weekend void - the illusion that the weekend is best spent doing nothing at all. Bullshit! When you open up your schedule to anything (or maybe nothing), there is no anticipation. There is no thrill.

On anticipation, Barker has this to say, "Looking to be happier? By planning fun stuff ahead of time you get to anticipate it. And research shows anticipation makes us very happy. Best part is even if you don't follow through and do the anchor event, you already got the anticipatory happiness. Happiness and laziness!"

Or as comedian John Mulaney jokes, "In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin."

The idea is to make decisions and take actions. Roll out of bed, step out of the apartment. You know there is fun shit out there. And that's the challenge - we need to find it.

I'm starting to think our weekend dreams reflect quite a bit on our thoughts about life. We stare down Friday as if it is the door to some magical activities although our anticipation is rooted in nothing if we don't make plans. We're just hoping someone will deliver fun right to our doorstep. 

There is the same thought that exists about life - the illusion of hope for doing things "someday". You've always wanted to travel to Japan. You've always wanted to ride a motorcycle. You've always wanted to write a book. And you've always planned to do it "someday".

Take your life into your own hands and hunt the opportunities down. Viktor Frankl did this when he consciously decided he could survive through the concentration camps of the Holocaust. Pain is inevitable and Frankl justified it as a test to sharing his stories with the world. After being released from Auschwitz, Frankl wrote, "Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment."

When people are asked about their life they don't answer that they strive to make it about being comfortable. People want to be happy. They want to have fun. But what if we could be happier doing something that required more than the comfortable.

Think of your ideal weekend right now. We're probably conditioned just the same. We think small and comfortable because we think it should be enough. The ideal weekend is hanging out with your friends, watching movies, eating bad food, drinking a ton, going to the diner, and not much else. But that's because that's about all we know. It's easy. It's normal.

But is that what we want for every weekend for the rest of our lives? 

We need to think bigger. We need to anticipate more.

I'll give you a personal example.

Whereas Friday night could easily mean Domino's and Netflix for me, I was confronted with an alternative earlier this week. My buddy Micah proposed seeing Kevin Smith's new film, Tusk. He told me it was the classic story of  a podcaster traveling to the Great White North of Canada to interview an old man promising life-long stories, only to be kidnapped, drugged, and surgically turned into a walrus. 

Something that twisted should have sold me right there, but something weird inside me hesitated on making concrete plans. Micah asked, "Friday at 9:30?" Hold on, just a minute. What if something else comes up? What if I want to just sit in my apartment?

The sacrifice of the night and the commitment to do something with a friend was a strong battle to wage in my mind. There was a fear of missing out and a fear of deciding wrongly. And when I pulled the trigger and sent a text back, I knew that Friday night, Micah and I would see something we never saw before. And it was great.

We snapped out of the weekend void. And in the days leading up to the movie, we were giggling like schoolgirls about how stupid it was all going to be. And, oh, how stupid fun it was!

We're throwing away the weekend if we're not doing anything. We're throwing away life if we're not doing anything. Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes put it this way: "If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not demanding more from yourself - expanding and learning as you go - you're choosing a numb existence. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip.

The comfort zone will always be there if you want it. But my guess is if we start to push forward, we won't need to look back nearly as much.

Plan your weekend this time around. Who cares if it is Tuesday or Friday when you're reading this? Nail down something you've always been interested in doing and haven't. Forget it being too far, too expensive, too whatever. Push yourself. Workout if you've been meaning to start. Or continue. Make some mistakes, craft some stories, go on some adventures.

You'll be better for it in the end.