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The Permission to Have Fun Challenge

I am doing something today that is out of character for me. I am going to the movies in the middle of a weekday. (You have no idea how wild an idea this is for me – I mean, clearly I should be working. Or networking or something!) There is nothing even remotely productive about going to see X Men Origins: Wolverine at 2:45 pm on a Friday afternoon.

But I’m going to do it.

And I think you should do something fun today too. Something you can’t even rationalize as being productive in any way. (If not today, by midnight tomorrow.)

I seem to think that the harder I am on myself the greater the payoff will be down the road. And while I believe firmly that hard work and discipline is rewarded and is the way to go 99.999% of the time, I know that the real juice of life is in the fun.

While I adore my work and find it infinitely rewarding, my best memories are of trips to new places, conversations with friends, and random acts of silliness. And these are all the things I tend to shut out of my life in favor of productivity. I had a great first quarter – so far 2009 is ahead of 2008. (Will it continue? Who the hell knows?) I know it won’t if I don’t radiate health and joy. And who radiates joy? People who are having fun!

Here’s my challenge to you:

I want you to do something between now and midnight tomorrow that makes you feel a little guilty. I want you to be a little bad. I want you to commit a little sin in your own eyes. Let me give you some examples (you’ll need to pick the one that resonates with you):

Skip the household chore(s) you were going to do.

Don’t do any work related stuff one afternoon or for the whole weekend!

Don’t attend that function you’ve been dreading all week – call in sick, send a gift. If you hate baby showers/weddings/bridal showers – don’t go!

Just do nothing for an hour (or whatever block of time really makes you feel guilty).

Eat something from your list of forbidden foods – but really do it up – eat ice cream on the beach or eat chocolate cake by candlelight. Eat chips and queso while wearing a sombrero. Make it count!

Skip your workout. Just skip it. You won’t get fat if you skip one workout.

Watch a cheesy movie or TV show (something you wouldn’t normally watch) and do nothing else.

Or rent that great foreign film no one else wants to see – revel in how damn intellectual you are.

Make a huge batch of popcorn and watch movies all day!

Add one of your best friends to any of these activities.

Take a nap.

Go shopping – you don’t even have to buy anything.

Have an appetizer at one restaurant, an entree at another and dessert at a third.

Eat a chocolate bar you loved as a kid but haven’t had in years.

Get a kid you like and go feed some ducks or hit the zoo and laugh at the crazy monkeys. Or leave the kid and do it by yourself!

Make that decadent delicious dessert you always wanted to try. And eat it.

Take a hot bubble bath.

Lay out in the sun with a book you feel guilty about reading.

You know this list could go on forever – and it will be different for everyone. I guess the bottom line is that we just don’t allow ourselves to live enough. Emerson said “We’re always getting ready to live and never living.” We want to wait until we have more time or more money or lose 15 pounds. Stop waiting! I want you to live a little this weekend. The world won’t end, you won’t go broke or get fat or lose control. You deserve some joy and fun – but you have to give yourself permission first.

If you let this life go by and don’t push your own guilt/fun envelope, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

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