“Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: if there is one key to a happy life, it’s relationships… seeing people, staying in touch with people. This is a place where anything that you can do to make it easier is going to make a big pay off in your happiness.”
“It’s going to make you happier.”
Those are Gretchen Rubin‘s words on one of her recent podcast episodes of Happier, With Gretchen Rubin. After studying the concept of happiness for years at Yale, the author and speaker has cemented herself as one of the leading voices in how to lead a more fulfilled life.
And when it comes to female friendships – which, she says, women overwhelmingly focused upon when deciding their goals for 2018 – there’s a simple hack for making them stronger.
A standardised holiday.
Speaking with her sister, television screenwriter and producer Elizabeth Craft, Rubin explained that the best way to circumvent the hubbub of adult life is to pencil in a weekend of every year, and commit that time to going away with your dearest circle of friends. Because we’re all so busy in between conflicting work schedules, partners, and families, once a year it’s crucial that we take time out for our friendships.
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So, what is a standardised holiday?
What’s most important to remember is this: the date never changes. You simply decide on a weekend that suits everybody – say, Labour day weekend, Queen’s Birthday, or Easter – and build that into your calendar every year.
It’s something Gretchen’s own friends do, even those with remarkably busy work and family lives. It’s a tactic that has even worked for a group of doctors she knows.
“You know a year in advance what you’re going to be doing… and you might think, ‘Oh well, is that less fun’, but the fact is they’re all incredibly busy and yet year after year after year they’ve all managed to show up at the same place at the same time.
“That’s so hard to pull off that I think there’s a lot of advantages to a standardised vacation.”
Elizabeth agreed, adding that going on the same holiday every year has a lot of benefits: “It minimises decision fatigue, which is the reason many things don’t happen, even going out for dinner with friends on a Saturday night [can fall through] because nobody wants to make a decision about where to go, what to do. This completely takes care of that problem.
“It’s that thing that if it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen, if it is on the calendar it likely will happen. If you know that, ‘Every year on the second weekend of October I meet my friends [on the coast]’ then you’re just going to have it on your mind and plan around it.”
Ideally, there should be just one planning session with your friends, where you decide everything from the dates, to the location, right down to the chores of who will book the AirBnB or organise transport, and whether children will be invited along.
The more details you cement as tradition, the better.
“If it’s standardised it’s like, build it into the schedule, if you can’t do it that weekend… it’s fine, we’ll see you next year,” Gretchen said. “It’s just very hard to take everybody’s desires and interests and situation into account, so you just deal with it one time and get it done.”
Ultimately, you need to consider the time away with your friends as part of the fabric of your year. While you may want some variety – for instance, you might not want to commit to the exact same resort every year, but can commit to anywhere within a three-hour drive of where everyone lives – the crux of your vacation can’t be chopped and changed.
It’s something you and your girlfriends can do right now. Commit to organise it today.
Click out of this post, tag your friends, start a group chat, and start organising.
And live a lovelier, more connected life as a result.
You can listen to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast by clicking the link.