Before You Start Your Weekend, Read This

“Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.” ~John Shirley

Remember when you were in school and Friday would arrive?

There was that sense of glorious freedom and anticipation.

Something fun was waiting for you, and the 3:00 bell was the only thing standing in your way.

As you get older, weekends don't hold the same liberating promise they once did. Life responsibilities have spilled over into those once sacred days. Now we race around shuffling kids to sporting events and lessons. We clean out the garage or do yard work. We shop for things we don't really need.

The idea of a “free” day creates anxiety and restlessness. We've been trained to be eternally productive, constantly vigilant for the next task that we can cross off the list. If we have some down time between the tasks and running around, our mental and physical exhaustion lands us in front of the TV or computer for some mind-numbing “relaxation.”

I tried this little mind shift exercise for myself a minute ago. I calculated the number of weekends I have left if I live to age 90.

I have roughly 2000 weekends remaining in my life. How about you? Count them up for yourself  (90 minus your age times 52). Well, that's a finite number, isn't it? It's pretty real when you see it on paper.

Seeing these numbers made me reflect on all of the weekends I've slept too late, failed to plan ahead, busied myself with busy-ness, substituted my kids' activities for my own fulfillment, or just accepted boredom and time-wasters. I have 2000 weekends or 4000 free days left. How do I want to spend them? In the car? Looking at useless crap at the mall? Cleaning out closets? Watching TV?

Hell no!

I love this beautiful world. I love that I am alive and able to experience all that life has to offer. There are so many things to see, to experience, to enjoy, to learn. I don't have enough weekends, enough days to enjoy them all. I want to stop the Task Train from steaming down the track any further before I reach Destination Nowhere.

So let's expand this mind shift a bit further. What if this weekend were your only free weekend of the year? How would you spend it?

Here's what I would do:

  • Plan and prepare a meal and invite friends over for dinner.
  • Take a long bike ride by the river.
  • Play a board game with my teenagers.
  • Drive to the mountains or lake for the day.
  • Go see Twyla Tharp's “Come Fly Away” Broadway musical.
  • Get up early and take a walk.
  • Read a great novel.
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens.
  • Have a great conversation with a friend or family member.

I know reality requires us to spend at least some of our weekends doing things that must be done. But can you separate the things that must be done from those you do to fill time or simply to feel productive? Do you see the inherent value in having fun and enjoying all the world has to offer you?

If so, I invite you to take a moment to plan some fun into the upcoming weekend. Don't let it creep up on you with nothing exciting or relaxing on your schedule. And whatever you do, don't fill it up with tasks! Go enjoy life and the remainder of the few thousand free weekends you have left!

Please share your ideas for how you'll be spending the weekend in the comments.

I'll give away a copy of my Discover Your Passion course to the person who shares  the most interesting weekend plans — and follows through!

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Comments

  1. Barrie,

    This post is so relevant for me right now. I am realigning my life with what’s true for me. For that, we need the kind of clarity you express in this post. I’ll be spending more time on loving kindness practice this week. Thanks for the inpsiration.

  2. Timely.
    I’ve done nothing but work and stress this year. We have had to move house twice – and both houses needed a lot of cleaning and labour to make them homely, we’ve had a diagnosis of cancer in the family to deal with and surgery etc, a major injury, and we are in burn-out at the moment.
    I am currently on annual leave for a few weeks and have decided to NOT spend every moment working on getting the garden sorted, or the house sorted. As I sit here, there are things that need to be put away and the carpet could do with the vaccuum cleaner being run over it, but I have no intention of leaping up and doing them. I am intentionally having a ‘lazy’ day to catch up on the blogs I follow, catch up on some emails, and then read a book for a couple of hours in my warm sunny nook (it’s winter here at present) until it’s time to prepare a meal. Today I am holding out against work – tomorrow is another matter lol.

  3. I share your thinking. I’m amazed at how much fun, exploration and adventure I can pack into a weekend. Summer has meant motorcycle day trips to the mountains, outdoor concerts, hikes, bicycle rides, swimming with my 2-year old granddaughter, trying new restaurants, a bit of travel, and photographing all of the fun too. I have lots more energy to take care of the “have to” things when I’ve made time for the “want to” things.

  4. Monica Ray says:

    I have tried for the past year to make Saturday my fun day. I do things that I want to do and that will bring me joy at my own pace. Sometimes it’s going to the local farmer’s market, or going for a run, sometimes it’s writing a blog post that I’ve been yearning to write, and sometimes it’s cleaning my house (I actually enjoy that too!). I also try to spend a good part of the day “unplugged”. I spend so much time on the computer during the week that it’s nice to have a break. It helps me recharge my batteries for the week to come.

  5. Just in time for the weekend! May do a little lawn mowing tonight, but then driving up to the lake with wife and kids till Sunday night, and then next weekend off to the Adirondacks for a jaunt deep into the woods for a little “man trip”. I think I’m on the right track here, Barrie 🙂

  6. this week have been full of stress, joy, discovering, and more, this week end gone a be restfull before another new week. thanks for your advices.
    Nicolas

  7. Thanks Barrie, very timely and helpful! I just calculated my number of weekends left till age 90, it’s sobering to put it in concrete terms. I recently read Chris Guillebeau’s book The Art of Non Conformity and your post reminds me of a comment he made about working hard all week and taking a sabbath day on the weekend. I think it’s worth considering, whatever our religious affiliation may be.

  8. These same thoughts have been rolling around in my head for a few months now. And I’ve been going and going the last several weekends and this weekend is a stay home weekend on purpose. But it is still purposeful. Here’s the plan, all busy but a relaxing kind of busy. Friday (tonight) my wife and I are going to an outdoor concert, Kenny Chesney, with our 21 & 18 yr old. This is a first time experience. The 18 yr old leaves next week for college. Saturday, after an early morning run, my wife and I plan to hit a huge indoor/outdoor yard sale. Something I haven’t done since college (25+yrs ago). It’s fun, stupid, but an enjoyable way to relax on a Sat morning. Then we have been planning all summer to take out our kayak and haven’t done it. We are dead set on kayaking a few hours on the lake Saturday afternoon. Sat night is our favorite bar/grill eating outside. Sunday is an awesome contemporary Christian worship service and my favorite pizza for lunch. Sunday afternoon? I have an incredible wife enjoy our quiet time together. 🙂 I’m very lucky. This weekend costs very little (tickets) but packed with fun and memories. My goal till 90 is to “live a better story”. That’s my purpose. (Unless I win the Passion Course and figure out something else!)

  9. Barrie, on Sunday my wife and I will drive our son 6 hours to his college orientation. We’ll go to parent orientation, then send him off to marching band camp at his new school. That means that tonight and tomorrow we’ll be sure to have meals together, invite over a few friends and relatives, and just be present to this moment of transition in our family’s life. The celebrating began last night, as several of his friends came over and they had a jazz jam session in our basement. What a great way for kids to want to spend their time!

  10. Barrie,
    This is just what I needed to read today. I’ve been slaving away finishing my book for the last few months. Its seems that half the summer is over and I have yet to really
    enjoy it. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy every day.
    I may be taking a hot air balloon ride tomorrow when I attend the Peekskill Day fair though –
    weather permitting.

  11. Thanks so much for this post! I constanly struggle with weekends. I’m always torn between taking some time to be lazy, but not wasting the time either. When I’m doing something I worry that I haven’t rested. When I’m resting I worry that I’m not getting anything done. Two days is not enough! This really puts it into perspective. I think I need to budget my time more wisely during the weekdays and not leave all my “have-to’s” for the weekend.

  12. Great article! I have 2,860 Weekends left-YIKES! I am currently in a boot camp class Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings at 6a to get rid of 20 unhealthy extra pounds I’ve let stress and slackness put on me since my last 5K. On Aug 23rd, I’ll spend the next 5.5 months using my Lunch Hour every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to earn my PMP Certification. I have my Coaching Certification class Thursday nights for 8 more weeks. With both classes comes homework and lots of reading which I’m going to try to put on a 1 hr per day schedule so I can save at least some of my mental sanity). Oy. Plus I work 45-50 hour work week at my demanding job as an IT Jr. PM and I’m a newlywed with a 7yr old stepson who’s here 2-3 days per week.

    All of this has made my Weekends VERY valuable. I do not want to spend them sitting like a vegetable trying to recover from my temporarily very busy weekdays or trying to cram all of the “necessities of life” in. I consider myself organized and efficient with time but I can’t buy more than 24 hours in a day so this Post has reminded me to spend my weekends just being Human and having fun!!

    My Husband and I used to spend our Weekends searching out history, ghost haunts (yep, like boooo ghosts), bike riding, hiking and doing country drives to old bridges and houses to take pictures. We also like trying new things so we buy Living Social deals for painting, photography workshops, kayaking and lately they have piled up, unused and ready to expire so thank you for this post–thank you for letting me know I don’t have all the time in the world–I have 2,860 weekends left (hopefully)!

    I’ve just decided that tomorrow afternoon we are taking my Parents to see Planet of the Apes. They haven’t been to a Movie theater in 26 years–literally. My Dad has early stage Alzheimer’s at just 60 years old so we want to get time in while we can. Sunday Husband and I are going to see Alegria Cirque du Soleil (we try to catch every cirque that comes through this) followed by Wine tasting. I had other “life” stuff I was going to do in the rest of my time but now, I’m not. Now I’ll fill those precious hours with something fun and silly and relaxing! Thank you. Thank you!

  13. Haide Charles says:

    This post is great!after i read this it made me think i should have time for my family every week end,and yes money can’t buy happiness. It’s been few months that my daughter asked me to go for a movie but i just say i am busy with my work.maybe it’s not too late to set up a movie or going to beach some time on week end.

  14. Hi Barrie,
    Well I have about 200 less w/ends than you so I better get on my bike and do something about this. You have chrystallised this nicely. Time gets away, cherish each moment. My w/end this week, will be spent with family, enjoyable walks, playing with my dog and some productive(hopefully) thinking. Thank you again.
    be good to yourself
    David

  15. Wow, this article hit me over the head. 🙂 I have only about 1400 weekends left, and that’s really not that many of them. Time to get off my butt and away from the computer and do something I really will enjoy, instead of just being numb all weekend long.
    I often take care of my twin grand-kids (4 years old) over the weekends, and I try to find something to do to keep them busy and tire them out. 😉
    But I think it’s time we do something that I will enjoy, too. I am going to take them to the mountains and let them romp up there while I’ll enjoy the beauty of it. I love the mountains but haven’t been up there in several years now. Always too busy doing so-called “important” stuff.
    And when the weather cools off a bit I’ll take them to the beach, which is another place I truly love and haven’t been to for a couple of years.
    Perhaps introducing them to museums would be a great idea, too. It’s time to do things that I will truly enjoy, too.
    Thanks Barrie.

  16. great list …I would love to do all these things…invite friends…and relax..pamper myself more..but it seems that my schedule ..my work my family eats up all my time inclusing the weekend

  17. Hey Barrie, thanks for the reminder. I have been working at changing my life and attitudes about work and self value for a long time. I now incorporate “me” time into all of my days. Still, sometimes the routine even brings stress of it’s own, so I can still make improvements on how I use my weekends. My main plans are always to be around people I love. I also have plans for starting a meditation and Reiki community here where I live in Beijing. This weekend I have to put in sometime to prepare a marketing lecture and will be spending half my second day off presenting it to China’s news agency. Still, I will have time to read, call my friends and family back in the US, have lunch with my ex-wife and her family and definitely go for some long walks. I am lucky to have a flatmate who is always heading out of town with friends going rock climbing and I plan to start tagging along once a month with them. I also take time every night to talk with my awesome girlfriend who lives in Guangzhou and we are planning our next vacation together in October for the Chinese National Day where I will be meeting the parents and her son for the 1st time. Something I am greatly looking forward to.

    Best wishes, light and love to all you bold and blooming souls!

    Namaste

  18. Hi Barrie,

    Great sharing & really open up my world 😉

    I was stuck with responsibilities & commitments previously. But now, I put my own life first – what I really want to do.

    I spend Saturdays morning out of house, with family or friends enjoying life till evening. At night, I’ll read books and watch tv/dvd with family till late into the night.

    On Sundays, I’ll do housework chores till afternoon and spend the rest of the afternoon blogging/writing, checking out emails, read blog posts etc. Sometimes, I’ll resort to taking an afternoon nap when I can’t concentrate or too tired to use my brain. It’s tv time after dinner.

  19. souds like great ideas! i will do them at my free time. thanks Barrie.

  20. Barrie Davenport says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Wow, you guys created some great plans for the weekend. I did most of the things on my list — it was a really fun weekend. It’s going to be hard to decide who wins the Discover Your Passion course — you all were so kind to comment and share your ideas.
    I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s post, so please check it out.

  21. Hi Barrie, what a great post.
    I read this Friday and I now evaluate the impact it had on my weekend. I slowed down, said ‘No’, to a couple of requests and booked a hotel on Saturday night so my wife and I could stroll down the street back to the hotel after a formal engagement we had to attend, instead of having to drive home late and tired. We had a lazy breakfast then headed to the beach where we sat and read in the sunshine. OK ,so a few things didn’t get done-but I enter a new week much more relaxed and refreshed. It’s a positive trade-off. Have a great week everyone!

  22. haha wow you seem to have a great list of “things-to-do” huh? i am pretty sure you will enjoy your weekends! as for me.. what i would do is to just relax, eat ice cream, sleep, and have a walk at the park with my family or with my best friend!

  23. Planning on how to spend weekends is really good.

  24. would love to visit orphanage and oldage house, with my spouse and kids, motivate kids to share some of their pocket money to buy flowers, chocloates and fruit and distribute amongst those less privilege souls.