Recently I was listening to my local radio station and they were having a trivia contest that caught my attention. The radio hosts were surprised by a survey that answered why people either declined or canceled social plans. To win the contest you had to guess the number one reason that people choose to cancel plans.
After numerous people called in with guesses, a lucky winner finally got the right answer. The number one reason that people canceled or declined invitations for social events was….budget. Once the answer was given a long series of people called in with their stories. Some people were agreeing that they declined big events like weddings because they just couldn’t afford it. Other callers admitted that even an offer of “hey let’s have coffee next week” had them searching for an excuse to get out of a commitment because of money issues.
So I started thinking about my reasons to put off seeing friends, and it was pretty much for the same reason. An offer to go out to dinner was too much for my budget so my brain would start to search for a way out. Of course I wanted to catch up with a friend and enjoy an outing but I didn’t want to explain that the dinners we used to enjoy were just not something that I could swing with my current situation. But…that would mean I would have to admit my financial situation, or start a conversation about why I couldn’t find a better paying job and before I knew it I was just “too busy” and suggesting maybe next month.
Of course this is a downward cycle once you start going down this avoidance path. Turn down too many social invitations and suddenly the friends you want to see stop calling because they know you’ll just say “no” or change plans. Go out on too many of these outings saying you deserve a night out and suddenly paying the bills becomes a constant source of worry. So is there a way to have the best of both worlds here? Still accepting (and keeping!) social invitations but not breaking the budget?
Having a couple of low cost outing ideas in your pocket may just be the answer we are looking for. If your friend is a foodie and you’ve always enjoyed each others company over dinners at a favorite restaurant, maybe you can suggest a change of pace and enjoy a picnic where you each bring something for meal. Maybe you can meet a friend for a class taking place at your local library. You would be amazed at some of the classes that are offered free if you look into their event offerings. Or maybe meeting at a local botanical gardens and taking a walk while enjoying the different seasons.
When your friend suggests that you meet at a restaurant, you can throw out a suggestion right on the spot like “Hey, you know there is an Irish Band that is going to be performing at our library. I listened to a clip of their music and they sounded great. Any interest in joining me for that?”
We all need to keep up social interactions while we are Designing for our Plenty, so please share your ideas in the comments section below. The more ideas we can keep in our back pocket, the easier it will be to throw out new ideas to our friends for great social outings.