This is a quick version of an action plan to inject fun and inspiration with substance.
It requires some reflection and creativity. The idea is you must plan intentionally. The effort may vary based on the person. When you are stuck (or not), elicit the help of someone who can up the game for you! You are the boss of your life, so- recruit personnel resources for inspiration from your connections- friends, family, neighbors, coworkers or therapists to instill joy if you need the extra boost as you tackle the ideas. We are social beings and gain from human connectivity. Begin there! Identify YOUR PEOPLE.
Enter the zone of conversation. Start sharing the stories. Practice being interesting. Participate. I guess all I am saying is let’s not sit like a gnome. Seriously, exchanging things of value with others brings the best in others too. You learn in return the best, at the very least, you learn and practice sharing the juice of life. What are the books you are reading? What are the shows that are of value-adding spark to your thought? What have you been cooking? Speak. Positively.
Get the fundamentals locked in terms of routine. Do you have the blueprint of your daily life well oiled and smooth where you do not think twice task after task? I am talking about the auto-pilot mode. I ask a ton of folk the same question and those who do well on this front are all sort of more similar than not. It goes like this: Freshen up-work-exercise-cook-eat-read/hobby- go to bed- repeat. Nested in it is the triad of elegant healthy time spent in careful planning for nutrition, sleep, and exercise routine that work for you. All this takes time. Some clever cookies and fun-seekers seem to add things like free music while making coffee during the morning routine. I love it.
Let’s disassemble. There are week-days, weekends and vacations/staycations. Depending on where you are in these three pods, you can variably populate with fun events. A lot of the time, folk do need to learn a lot of life hacks of making it easy on yourself. It involves attitude adjustments (vs. constantly egging on others being the reason for their misery) as well as oiling your life practices as well as extra tips to learn new ways (that your family culture may not have rendered as you grew up, at least in ways that were obvious to you, so don’t beat yourself up).
Get excited about making an interesting breakfast? Think lean and mean. Share if you have a partner, dazzle them. Why not listen to good music from your playlist while sitting down for tea as you watch the sunrise through the window? Yes, even in winter, sky changes colors in the AM.
What about spending 5 minutes of free time here and there working on steps (or abdomen for those interested)? I saw the documentary Cheer (NetFlix) and was inspired by conditioning and hard work those youth strive for!
How about getting an assortment of simple recipes and make a Rolodex card (or Pinterest board if you are detailed) of fun experiments with healthy cooking at the end of the day? They can be very simple, yet elegant meals. Dream (a lot of joy in anticipation), plan (requires grocery shopping), execute (requires slotting time for it). Listen, nothing is automatic! Even healthy eating requires some thought- I wanted to eat apples more, tasted a dozen varieties in four stores before I settled on what type of apple is my favorite that I like to eat a lot. That was a fun apple pursuit experiment for me to land on, worth the effort! Now, I have a story to tell, understand many apples and most of all eat a lot of healthy apples. This is just an example.
I recommend fun stuff to watch while exercising. It gives the incentive to get on elliptical (or whatever you choose). James Clear calls it temptation bundling! Bundle up rewards to get things done in a fun way. How wonderful would it be to have a shower after a workout, and climb into soft sheets in bed and read! Another thing James clear explains in his book Atomic habits is Habit Stacking. It is simply pairing an activity with something else you do into the routine so it is stacked automatically. Say you are procrastinating practicing guitar, easiest is to automatically pick it up soon after dinner for 20 minutes each day. That way time is slotted for it and you don’t waste energy thinking of your basics.
Mix up audible or reading books in hand, fiction and non-fiction, get lost in the wonder as you wind the day down. By the way, if a book is a crap, don’t go on reading. Get a new fun book.
Watch news and know what is around you. Avoiding is ok too, but being in the know is good too!
Board games are becoming such a glue! Someone mentioned “scattergories”. I bet there are a zillion types!
Keeping in touch with friends and family: First of all, you need to have a social platform. Take stock. Who are your local friends, friends at different places that you need to keep in touch and family members? I tend to call those who live far away routinely (I have my list in my kitchen draw) or arrange dinner appointments with those around me locally. Each of these dinners is like a book club for me. At a minimum, I/we meet my friends every season. We should never take our friends for granted and they are all precious right?! To give you an example, I make a call to my mom each AM as I step out the door for work, a built-in automatic Habit that will not fail.
If you need to go out on weekday night, it may be not a bad idea once in a while to break up the routine. Live with abandon. It does not mean you are slowing down or deviating. It is ok to have fun. The shoe is not dropping, guys! You are as strong as iron. The only thing I say is your body is like a temple. I encourage you to not be fooled by drugs or excessive alcohol. Guys complain socializing is all about alcohol, and it is hard to not drink. Indeed, recognize this! Be your own guardian angel. End of the day, only you know yourself the best and have access to you. Focus on experiences with valuable people and surroundings.
First, there are things that cost money and those that are free. I don’t need to tell you that, but some are relatively inexpensive, easy and self-driven.
Watch and learn about your city, architecture, dance, art, read, go for walks in beautiful gardens or visit indoor museums, comedy clubs, gardens, and art institutes; you can be “usher” to see great plays and see super expensive theater if strapped for cash. When there is a will, there is a way. Take atleast 4 dance classes and test it out!
How about a substantive self-care routine at home? How about a leisurely bath? Lot of women tell me there is no time to spare. I tell such folk that it might be simpler then to walk slowly, take longer showers, apply that make up slowly with soothing brushes, and cream on their legs ever so slowly, and nurture themselves. Non negotiable!
Read Sunday major newspapers. I am learning a lot from them! So many ideas are formative and I get to discuss and share with my family every week.
Learn new skills from media. You can learn just about anything. I am tempted to sign up for master classes with Thomas Keller. Sign up at Eataly for a class. Some couples went to painting classes and trivia nights together. Some go to animae movies together and have exciting social forums on their common interests.
Create your own private parties around family traditions and common interests. College or foot ball games, Oscars, Sunday 60 minutes or whatever amuses you.
If nothing else, go for a drive to various towns in the city. In the Chicago area, a lot of folks do not always take advantage of visiting awesome other towns like Pilsen, China town, Wicker’s park, Ravenswood, Korea town or Vietnamese town or Little Italy beyond your own town. I tell folk to make it their business to visit and understand interesting neighborhoods, like going to a different country, talk to the locals! Or do armchair travel in Net flix. Some folk I know chase historic places, some go to fairs, and others to music concerts.
One thing people love or hate is understanding grocery isles and ingredients and passion for cooking. I am one of those who loves to examine and understand and learn ingredients. I recreate what I eat in fancy restaurants (they get their credit to show us), which means I experiment cooking! I highly recommend making it a play, then you will really know how it is not that hard to cook a wonderful meal at home!
I can go on like this, but some Millenials remind me that they are busy with chunks of time to study and devote to work they need to take home for a portion of the weekend. I admire that and encourage as no one gets there without some hustle and grind. Success comes with hard work and vision. Time well spent, in my opinion. It is part of taking care of yourself, and being realistic.
For those of you endowed with children, you have the God given will to power through it, but all I ask is take the time it takes (try looking in their eye and speaking softly) and do not rush as slow is fast! If you rush, you stress out and yell at kids and mostly end of feeling bad yourself. Slow down.
Vacation/Staycation and Holiday Ideas:
A lot of this chunk is all common: Enjoy planning ahead, dream about it, save for it, details matter (even if its left to spontaneity); and when you get to it, take in the surroundings and “be” with your people during that time: be fun and have fun-Both. It is not a big deal if it rains on those days or you have sulky moments; As I hold close to the heart the sentence: Every day is a vacation. It is in the attitude. More on it next time!
Useful tips , Mani.