One of my biggest pleasures in life is creating opportunities for my friends and family. There are a lot of things I do all the time, but when I think of who I am by definition, I think of myself as someone who tries to create things for his friends.
This is what drives all of my shared real estate purchases. I obviously have a vested personal interest in buying all of these places, but I'm most delighted by being able to offer my friends the opportunity to own places all around the world for very little money and with almost no effort.
Those are big campaigns, but there are a lot of other things that you can do to provide great experiences for your friends. These things may not seem like a big deal, but being the one to organize events and activities in your friend group is extremely valuable. Here are a few ideas, ranging from easiest to hardest.
1. Organize a dinner for everyone a at a restaunt a few days in advance. This is so easy, but it doesn't happen that often. When was the last time someone in your group did it? Just pick a restaurant your group likes, pick a time a few days away, and invite everyone. I do this all the time and always appreciate it when other people do it.
2. Set up karaoke or an escape room. These are really fun collaborative activities that let people express different sides of themselves. They're also two activities that people somethings think they won't like, but will then change their minds on once they try it. My friends and I do both of these all the time and they're a blast. The hard part is coordinating a time, especially for escape rooms where you often have to book in advance, so be the one to take on that responsibility. Don't worry if your group doesn't do these things normally— it's even better if it's a new experience.
3. Host a game night. Board games are so much better now than they were back in our childhood days of Monopoly and Chutes 'n Ladders. Play Werewolf, Code Names, Settlers of Catan, or Bloodbound. Order some food or make some basic snacks like popcorn and chips and guac, and it will feel like a big event.
3. Plan a day trip for your friends, and make it a surprise as a bonus. Text everyone and say, "I'm planning a fun day trip for everyone. Meet at my house at 10am on Saturday and bring a bathing suit and $50". People love surprises and they love having a full day of activities without having to plan anything. Go for a hike, to a water park, to a museum, or to a cool restaurant or event in another city.
4. Plan a multi-day trip for your friends. Some of my friends once planned an awesome trip to Hawaii. They rented a big airbnb, told us how much we all owed, and we planned the rest on the fly. It didn't take much effort on their part, but it was a huge event for the group that we still talk about to this day. I've done this several times in Japan, each time taking only an hour or two to really plan out.
5. Purchase property with your friends. I've done this several times and have written about it in detail in my book, Forever Nomad. Having shared property with your closest friends is like investing in a continuous stream of quality time with your friends. The effort level (and financial investment) on this one is obviously the highest by a large margin, but it's eminently worth it.
Your friend group is probably one of the most important factors in the quality of your life, and will continue to be important as long as you live. By putting in small amounts of effort to provide fun experiences for your friends you will deepen bonds between each other and create great memories and shared experiences that you will treasure forever. The return on investment is enormous.
Photo is my friend (and island co-owner) Brian putting a solar panel on our roof.
I love planning trips for my friends. I think that it's a great way to do a service to my friends, to spend time with them, and to foster new connections between them. I believe that if all of my friends are good friends with each other, that makes my friend circle very strong.
The biggest trips I've planned for friends are two one-week train trips around Japan where I planned an entire secret itinerary. I've also planned lots of cruises where I organize the port stops as we go. Countless friends and groups of family have come through Budapest and I've taken them around.
People always thank me for organizing these trips, but it's totally unnecessary. I benefit just as much as they do, and it's a lot easier than people expect.
The hardest part is just picking some dates and making the trip happen. The best way to do this is choose a few "anchor" people and work with their schedules to find good dates. You book your flights and then start inviting other people. You will never get everyone to go at once, but if you have a few people locked in early, you know that you'll at least have a good small trip and it will build momentum.
If you've been paying attention to your life activities, you've already noticed that there is a general maxim for activities: if it is easy and entertaining now, it will probably be detrimental in the long run, and if it is hard and boring now, it will help you out down the line. Obviously there are exceptions - playing with a pet is easy and fun, yet has documented positive psychological effects, and doing something like fitting a lightbulb in your mouth doesn't sound fun nor is it easy, but that's not going to do much for the future you.
But those are dramatic, and rare exceptions. Scrolling your Facebook newsfeed, watching your favorite television show, tearing apart a fast food burger. These are all easy to do, and are very fun while you are doing them, but once they are done, you don't have much to show for the effort other than those fleeting moments of entertainment.
Meanwhile, think about writing something, about working out, about doing language grammar drills, or choosing to eat healthy. These are things that are classically difficult and often boring - everyone always tells themselves excuses in order to get out of them. However, after those actions are completed, you always have something to show for your time, be it a blog post, toned abs, or a better understanding of how to conjugate things in Portuguese.
There's the Past, Present, and Future, and the things that feel good in the Present look silly and trivial in the Past. The more work you put into the Present, the brighter the Future becomes. Our minds are just hardwired to seek pleasure not pain, even if the pain is just the monotony of forcing yourself to do something without an immediate payoff.
So how can you buck off your brain's whims and choose to do what's important? It's simple - choose to do the activities which will still matter in one year. One year is a long time - long enough to make you forget all the little silly things you did last year, but not so long as to be unimaginable. You could possibly scale this time period down to as low as 3 months, but the point is to have an interval that is long enough to make you forget the things you did in the day. Let's stick with a year for this example.