Operation Enjoy: A guide to making friends

By | July 24, 2017

I’ve been doing another Operation Enjoy. This is a project where I attempt to make a place feel like home by going out and doing a bunch of things with other people in that place, making friends and experiencing as much of the area as I can.

I love planning and I love my lists. I’m aware it’s a bit extreme and if you’re not a planner yourself, you’ll probably think I’m a bit insane and hate this post. This approach won’t work for everyone. Some people detest making plans and like to let the day unfold as it may. I met a surprising number of people who feel that way and I have no advice for you if that’s your story.

I’m just going to take the day as it comes, man.

But if you’re an organized freakazoid like yours truly and want to do your own Operation Enjoy the Crap Out of Location/Time Period, here are my steps.

Step #1: Make a list of things you want to accomplish.

Before arriving, I made a Denver bucket list with everything I wanted to do during my time there. It included events specific to that location, bigger goals and just general activities that I hadn’t done in a while. As I talked to people and heard suggestions for fun things in the area, I added to my list. You can include specific restaurants to your list if you don’t already have a separate Suggested Restaurants to Try List. Here’s my Denver bucket list:

  1. Cross off bucket list item #44 (fall responsibly in love).
  2. Go out on ten dates.
  3. Go to a bar by myself and smile at a guy. Per Patty’s suggestion.
  4. Cross off bucket list item #6 (write a book).
  5. Read 15 books.
  6. Do some hiking. Colorado has some great hiking.
  7. Get to know the city using a bike.
  8. Make Denver feel like home.
  9. Go bowling. You didn’t do that in California.
  10. And roller skating.
  11. How about mini putting? You haven’t done that in a few years.
  12. Decide if you like Boulder or Denver better.
  13. See a show at Redrocks.
  14. Hang out with Mr. Money Mustache once.
  15. Go to Casa Bonita. Remember that episode of South Park?
  16. Visit a cat cafe.
  17. Go to a silent disco party.
  18. Play some games at Punchbowl Social.
  19. Draw at a puff and paint class.
  20. Attend a cuddle party.
  21. Go to a music festival of sorts.
  22. Hike a 14er

Step #2: Fill up your calendar

After I made the bucket list, I joined a bunch of meetup groups that sounded interesting and inserted their events into my calendar. I hopped on OkCupid and made a bunch of dates. Onto the calendar you go, potential future maybes! I blasted this message to my Facebook friends:

“I’m hanging out in Denver for a wee bit. Are you in Denver and want to hang out? Do you know anyone in Denver who wants to hang out? Operation Enjoy the Crap Out of Denver is a go! I’ll stop saying Denver now.”

I scheduled more plans with the results, filling up my calendar with friends of friends. And then I leaned back and looked at my calendar in delight. So much possibility and fun around the corner.

Here’s how you make friends. Go out into the world and ask people to do things with you. Say yes when people you like ask you to do things with them. Rinse and repeat. The more often you do something with one person in particular, the closer a friend they are likely to be and the happier you are likely to be.

You’re the average of the five people you interact with the most. Choose the people you surround yourself with. The souls you interact with shape you more than I think most of us realize. Are the people you interact with the people you want to interact with?

Step #3: Do the activities as they come up on your calendar.

The next step is, of course, doing the stuff you scheduled as they came up on your calendar. When I met someone that I thought was pleasant, I invited them to do things with me again, offering suggestions from my Denver Bucket List. My calendar kept filling up. When I couldn’t find someone to join me, I picked an activity I could do by myself outside. Museums. Meetup activity. Hike. Smile at people. At the world. It works.

Spoon theory sleep

Have you heard of the spoon theory? Each day you have only so many spoons of energy. When you’ve used up all your spoons, you’re done for the day. You have to go home and nap. Every person has a different number of spoons based on their physical and mental limitations. Whether it’s fibromyalgia or introversion, your spoons are in charge and you have to work around them.

I think the reason I like Operation Enjoy so much is because I’m not working. It’s my one bit of social interaction during the day. Doing my first Operation Enjoy in Sydney, I remember it being more difficult initially. Work took up too many of my spoons. Just a warning because this can get exhausting. I found myself cheering occasionally when someone would cancel at the last minute and I decided to stay in.

Here are my rules.

  1. Do something every day.
  2. The something must be outside my abode if I’m alone.
  3. A walk only counts if it’s more than 3 miles.

13 thoughts on “Operation Enjoy: A guide to making friends

  1. Nena

    Hi there, I came across your blog a year go (maybe through MMM?) and have been checking back once in a while ever since. Similar to you, I also love making lists and spreadsheets for pretty much anything. This post in particular made me smile because I think about making friends in much the same way. I’ve moved 4 times (3 countries) over the past 3 years and if I didn’t follow similar steps it would take me much longer to feel “home” 🙂 Though I definitely agree that my job is the main thing in the way of getting to know more people! If you ever pass through Rotterdam/Netherlands, let me know! I’d love to show you around. I’m originally from NY, but have been in Europe for the past 3 years.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I’ve been to Amsterdam four times, but not Rotterdam. I love the the Netherlands! You’re on my spreadsheet of people and places. 🙂

  2. Daniel Clough

    LOVE this post.

    Your Life Bucket List inspired me to make a list too a while back (although I can it a ‘living life’ list!).

    I have this at the top i big font ‘If it’s not in the calendar, it won’t happen’.

    I’m going to budapest with 2 of my best friends this weekend. And i just booked a 5 day surfing trip with another friend for later in year. I’m actually pretty scared and anxious to do that. But, her, it’s in the calendar now! 😉

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I love the idea of calling it a living life list! Bucket list is so cliche. Surfing would scare the crap out of me too.

  3. pioli123

    I moved to Florida 6 months ago for work, and still have trouble making friends. I learned that the bar isn’t a great place to meet a friend, or accomplish Operation Don’t Die Alone. How do you tactfully ask people if they want to do something sometime?

    I love your blog, and thanks for all the good ideas.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I usually explain Operation Enjoy the Crap Out of Denver and say I’m always looking for people to hang out with. And then I ask for their number and text them later to do something. If we can’t connect the first couple of times I ask, I move on to the next person. There are a lot of people out there. 🙂

  4. veronica

    If you ever decide to initiate Operation Enjoy the Crap Out of Toronto, let me know. I’m always out and about doing things and would love the company.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I’ve never been to Toronto. I’ve never even considered going to Toronto. It’s on my list though. Thanks!

  5. hyewon

    Let’s have South Korea on the list too! Or Abu Dhabi! I’ll be in either of the two places and I’d love to hang out with you.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Haha, I’ve been to Seoul and briefly Abu Dhabi. It was very scary to cross the street in Seoul.

      1. hyewon

        I hear you ;’) You gotta make sure drivers see you and make eye contact with them so you don’t get run over lol!


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