"What are you looking forward to?"
For over a year my friend Lisa would ask this at the end of our every-other-month calls. Often the answer was, "Not much." I've long heard many experts say that it's better for your happiness to spend money on experiences than on things, in part because of the joy of anticipation, but it took me a while to believe them. Then I realized the reason I wasn't really enjoying spending money on experiences is because I decided to do things at the last minute - often after the tickets had been sold out or it was too late to get a group together to enjoy something.
This year I set out to do something that and established "Look forward" as one of my personal commandments. In the first week of January I scheduled 10 personal days for the year. This included time off for a planned speech, two extended holiday weekends, a random day here and there, and a week off in the summer. While I'm lucky to have generous personal time, it's only valuable if I take advantage of it! Now that I've decided on so many days in advance, it is so exciting it is to look at the calendar and see "OFF" written throughout the year! Even though I love my job, it's great to have time set aside for relaxation and fun.
Having dates on the calendar was just the motivation I needed. My husband and I scheduled an overnight getaway and booked the hotel as soon as we decided on the destination. What a delight to know over a month in advance that the reservations were made!
And, as is the case with many good habits (and bad habits), once I got started it was easier to keep going. When I saw on Facebook that one of my favorite singers is coming to the area this spring, I purchased tickets at the first opportunity. When our high school's musical was announced, I started talking to friends to see if they wanted to bring their kids to the show.
Consequently, we have 12 tickets in the front row and something else to look forward to!
Some people love event and vacation planning and have no problem making this a priority. But if you're like me and don't make scheduling fun part of your routine, here are some steps to consider.
Figure out what you want more of in your life. Music? Art? Adventure? Travel? (A great way to determine this is to listen to yourself when you say things like "I should ... more.")
Set yourself up to capitalize on opportunities. Follow your favorite performers, artists, etc. on Facebook so you are aware of when they're coming to your area. Subscribe to mailing lists so you are aware of what's happening at local venues. Consider a season pass or annual membership to your favorite place(s). Identify friends/family members who have similar interests and will likely accept your invitations.
Set a date. Select the event, location, etc. and put it on your calendar. To add to the fun, use an app to add a countdown timer and periodically send your companion(s) updates. I love sending those updates!
When you are dealing with a particularly stressful experience or going through a difficult time, remind yourself of the fun events on your schedule. It really helps.
This is the first year in a really long time I haven't had a severe case of the winter blues. I attribute that, in large part, to the fact that I've been looking forward. I hope you too will give yourself plenty to look forward to!