On the one hand, today's world has a staggering amount of possibilities. We can travel to the other side of the world in less than a day, connect with anyone we want online, read books without having their physical copies, and learn about whatever topic we want for free. Never before have so many people had the possibility to create the life they want.
On the other hand, today's world is so comfortable it's dangerously easy to take no advantage of these possibilities whatsoever. Instead, contemporary entertainment and sensationalized news take up much of our free time, having become too available and addictive to resist. As a result, we lead lives dominated by mayfly stories that we haven't made ourselves.
Why do we so often fail to spend our free time in ways that are fulfilling and nourishing?
The root of the problem lies in our belief that free time should be spontaneous and effortless. We assume that we can go along with the flow if we don't plan anything during our free time. Of course, most of the time, there's not a lot of flow and we end up filling the void with whatever YouTube, Netflix, or the TV presents us.
While there's always time for a good game, a good movie, or a good series, we have to be intentional about them. We play No Man's Sky and watch Peaky Blinders because we want to, not just because they're there.
In general, if we want to build a life worth living, we need to take back control. We need to be deliberate about our free time. This means having at least some idea about what you want to do. It needn't be a heavy-handed plan and it needn't be anything wild either. For example, this weekend, you can decide to:
- Go on a hike with your partner;
- Do a daytrip to the nearest city;
- Learn how to replace a tire;
- Visit a new restaurant;
- Cook a new dish.
A plan doesn't mean inflexibility. It's a remedy against the restlessness we feel when we haven't scheduled anything and fill our free time with meaningless activities. Planning your free time takes only a small amount of effort, but you're taking life in your own hands. You're making your own choices. And that's a powerful, refreshing feeling.