My eyes slowly open in a groggy state. I blink a few times, trying to remember what day it is, wondering what time it is. I find my hand and then my hand finds my phone, lost within the tousled sheets that are the result of a restless night. At last my phone is in my hand and I bring it up to meet my face. 8:26. I groan, angry at my body for waking up so early after such a late night, angry at my window for letting those early sun rays leak into my bedroom. I turn over, close my eyes and allow myself to drift back to sleep for another two or three hours.
We've all been there. That typical Saturday or Sunday morning after a long and crazy Friday or Saturday night. And then when Sunday night inevitably rolls around we all feel like the weekend went way too fast.
That's why I vowed to myself in early 2016 that I would never regret another weekend. I would never feel like I didn't squeeze in every bit of enjoyment possible. Upon taking on my first full-time job and having several nights when I didn't get home until almost midnight, only having to wake up eight hours later and do it all over again, I realized that free time should not be taken for granted. Those 30 or so hours of free time that we get on the weekends are so precious. After that realization and after making that vow, I have genuinely not regretted a single weekend. I haven't felt unfulfilled or like Sunday came too fast. I've done a lot of living in those 30 or so hours that I would have missed out on if I kept turning over after waking up at 8:26 in the morning.
So what's the secret? How do you make the most of every weekend? How do you pull yourself out of bed when every inch of your body is saying "no just five more minutes"?
Well first tell your body to shut the hell up, you have a life to live. Eventually, it will learn to listen. As far as finding things to fill your weekends, I've found a lot of options that work really well for me. One of my new favorite things is the "I'm Interested" button for events on Facebook. I click on all of them. Even if it's a Renaissance Dungeon Punk Rodeo, I click on it (secret: clicking on one event makes more suggested events pop up, which leads to the discovery of some pretty cool things). Then when Thursday rolls around and I'm trying to figure out what my weekend plans are, I simply go into my Facebook and look at the upcoming events that flagged however many weeks ago. I pick out a few that I'm actually interested in and start reaching out to friends that I think would like to go. And for most things, even if you can't assemble a squad, you should go anyway. Also don't say no if people invite you to do something, that's dumb. Even if you're convinced that it's something you really wouldn't enjoy, give it a try - you never know what you might actually end up liking. In the past few months, Facebook has lead me to free sailing, free food, free concerts, fun cultural events and workout classes that have kicked my butt. It's been pretty amazing.
For weekends that are a little bit more low key, just get yourself outside. Go for a walk, lay down on the grass or a dock somewhere if it's nice out. If it's not as nice find a movie you want to see or go to the mall or a museum. A lot of times just walking around will lead you to an exciting event or a fun adventure. A few weeks ago, on the first truly nice day of the year, I asked a few friends to meet me after work to go for a walk. I'd been inside all day and just wanted to take a few minutes to enjoy the weather. That short walk turned into a five mile walk into the North End of Boston. We got pizza from the best pizza place in the entire city and, of course, cannolis from the famous Mike's Pastry. I still remember that as one of the best nights of the year. And that was only a Thursday.
For those of you that are a bit more adventurous, I highly recommend taking weekend trips. There are so many places to see that are a short bus, train or plane ride away. My spontaneous two day trip to Nashville in early April was one of the best weekends of my life so far. Take a $10 bus ride to the next closest city or find a nearby mountain and go for a hike. "Yes, but that costs so much money," is what you're probably thinking. I'm barely earning a livable wage and I make these things work. There are resources out there that are practically begging you to have fun, affordable adventures on a whim. Groupon, and airlines low far calendars (see Southwest, Jet Blue, Virgin) have become my bibles. I also sign up for Expedia's and Travelocity's newsletters, which actually offer great deals from time to time.
So the next time that you find yourself awake earlier than you would like, don't fight nature. Instead, rub your eyes a little bit, pour yourself a cup of coffee and ask "what's in store for me today?". If you have that mindset, I guarantee that it will be something great. And you'll never feel like Sunday comes too fast ever again.