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What is on your play list?

  • 2 min read

As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, this year has gotten off to a rocky start. So I’ve dusted off an old technique that’s proven really helpful, especially in times like these.

I spend a lot of my time figuring out ways to remove things from my lists and calendars. I’m an ever-aspiring essentialist who is always looking for the opportunity to wield my “no.” Recently though I’ve been deliberately adding a very particular type of action to my list: things to look forward to.

During my Weekly Ritual, after I’ve created my weekly action plan, I scan it to make sure that I have a few things —that are not work-related— that I can look forward to. These can be dinners with friends, watching something, listening to a podcast, alone time, anything that I feel excited or joyful about. Then I’ll go ahead and block those things out on my calendar. Revolutionary, I know, yet it’s not something I default to doing.

Studies suggest that simply having something to look forward to can increase our general state of well-being, especially during challenging times. Of course, during these times it’s hardest to motivate, or even think of something to look forward to. That’s when it’s most important to try because ultimately our experience is our responsibility.

Though sometimes I’m fortunate enough to have friends in town or a dinner invitation, most of the time it’s up to me to take action and create the conditions for what I want to experience in my life. If I don’t, time will pass. Whatever unworkable stories about what I do or don’t have in my life tend to become ever more convincing without change. When it comes to unworkable stories, inaction leads to traction.

The only way to change our inner narrative is to breathe life into new stories, and we do that through action. I do that by programming play into my plans. Play can be anything that you’re simply doing for its own sake because you simply want to!

This may seem silly, selfish, or like dissociative positive thinking, but it’s not. It’s a practical strategy for avoiding crisis.

When you board a plane, they walk you through what to do in case of an emergency. When they talk about oxygen mask procedure, note how they tend to show a parent sitting next to a child, arguably the most important person in a parent’s life. We would do anything for our child, including risking our own life. The instruction though is clear: put your own oxygen mask first. That is the best way to serve others, is to serve yourself.

Regularly planning play into every month and week is a form of practicing putting our oxygen masks on. Not leaving fun things up to chance may be extra work, but it’s work that results in you living a life where you always have something to look forward to.

This week, I invite you to think of one to three things you could look forward to within the next seven days then pick a time and commit to making them happen.

Thank you for taking the time and enjoy!


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