For the past month I’ve been trying out a practice that a sports psychologist shared with me. Let’s call it “I Want Weekends” or “Willful Weekends”. Every Friday afternoon I write down what I want from my weekend, without worrying too much about format or structure. I ask and answer the deceptively simple question: “what do I want this weekend?” If I’m feeling stuck I break it down into what I want more of or what do I want less of.

Rest
Family Time
Entertaining at home
Quiet
Time in Nature
Home cooked food
Road trips

Once I’m finished I close my notebook and don’t refer to it again until Monday. For the past four Mondays I’ve been surprised. I’ve gotten what I wanted from my weekends. Not 100% but close enough.

Why?

The sports psychologist tells me that I’ve nudged my Reticular Activating System (RAS), the big bundle of nerves at the end of my brainstem that makes note of what I focus on and creates filters for me to focus on what I care about. Whether villain or hero, the RAS is responsible for confirmation bias (I see what I want to see) or manifestation (what I think about, I bring about). So identifying “I want” is a kind of brain training.

I see it as another kind of training – strengthening my volition or will. In a world where many feel victim to circumstances – economics, politics, hierarchy – sharpening will is an assertion of power. In this same world, “I want” serves to cut through abundant distractions and information overload, forcing us to own our choices. We stop drifting or swirling; we start navigating.

I. Want. Words we said so much as children, and then necessarily gave up with the responsibilities and conformities of adulthood. I. Want. You don’t have to shout it to anyone. Or even start by saying it to someone. But you’ll benefit from saying it to yourself.

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