In past years I promised to take it easy and really enjoy my summer, only to see the days frittered away with furtive trips to the office and nagging lists of what needs to get done. I stumbled into Fall not quite rested and full of regrets.
We need seasons.
The summer season is there for a well-deserved mid-year break to reflect and recharge before we launch into Fall. The trick is to fully invest in and enjoy your summer … with no regrets.
Here’s my top-ten ways to design a no-regrets summer.
1. READ DAILY
I learned a long time ago when I read life improves.
I learned a long time ago when I read life improves. I also learned I need both non-fiction to stimulate my business neurons and fiction for good old fun. I use Evernote (I rave about it here) to keep track of books to read and (believe it or not) of books I have read (hey, after your 10th Lee Child they all look the same). Most months (either on my Kindle reader or in paperback) I churn through two fiction and one non-fiction. Today I’m reading Blue like Jazz (Donald Miller), and Personal (Lee Child, natch).
GIF via www.bookriot.com
2. COMPLETE SOMETHING
As a kid my Dad always had a summer project planned, like building a cabin or repairing a deck. As much as I wanted to flake off and ride my bike, there was something immensely satisfying about seeing a project completed. What about you? Maybe it’s organizing your garage, finishing that ebook, or hiring an assistant. Take advantage of summer to cross something valuable off your list.
3. INSTALL A WORK SWITCH
Just like a physical light switch, summer’s a great time to practice turning work off. I use an old trick I learned from the late Richard Carlson (of the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book fame) – about three blocks from my home I say to myself “End of work, beginning of home.” That trigger is all I need to switch work off and be present with my family (after that, the trick is to avoid the temptation to check my phone or log onto email.)
4. REMOVE CLUTTER
Clutter shouts ‘Unfinished business!’
I have yet to meet the person that loves clutter. When you have clutter on your desk, on your computer, or around your home it’s more than a minor distraction – it shouts ‘Unfinished business!’ Start by purging your office, completing simple repairs, creating better storage systems and then stand back and enjoy the results. A small investment in purging, organizing, and repairing will pay big dividends all summer.
GIF via www.tumblr.com
5. STOP DOING
I once heard best-selling author, Jim Collins recommend creating a stop doing list – the idea stuck. Your Stop Doing list contains all the unwanted, low-priority, $10/hour jobs you invented or inherited. Years ago I bought a small rental house, renovated it and was soon buried in routine maintenance. At first, hauling my lawn mower there on weekends was a bit of a novelty – that wore off pretty quickly so I hired a local service and never looked back. There are people who would love to do your editing, blog posting, transcribing or work around the house. Let them.
6. IMPROVE A SYSTEM
When you create a system you invest in growth.
I love systems. We have systems for on-boarding clients to SOS, posting my podcast, marketing my webinars, even our bookkeeping. When you create a system you invest in growth. Start by identifying routines you want to give to your team or outsource. Next, create a new SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) – we use Google Docs for this. Finally, design a simple strategy for monitoring results – like check in once a month.
7. MOVE MORE
Summer is a time to be in the garden, on your bike, hiking the trails and moving more. There’s plenty of evidence that more activity reduces health risks, offsets impacts of aging and gives you more pep in your step. The trick is to make it part of your lifestyle instead of an exception. The formula is simple: 1) choose activities that get your heart rate up and create (good) stress 2) schedule the activity 3) reward yourself afterwards.
GIF via www.buzzfeed.com
8. BUILD A NEW HABIT
I’ve written lots about the power of habits for getting things done and building discipline and willpower – they really are the super food of success. Summer is a perfect time to build a new habit around: eating, exercise, sleeping, reading or anyone of the topics on this list. Habit tip: it’s not about practicing for 21 days, the secret is to reverse engineer the old, unwanted habit to know why you do it, create a new, better habit, and reward it. I break it down here.
9. TAKE A RISK
When was the last time you took a risk? I’m not talking skydiving (although that could be fun), I’m talking about being out of your comfort zone. Summer is a perfect time to experiment, experience, and learn. One of my “risks” this summer is to organize a men’s group with Jeff Hay for guys who want a safe place to talk about life and being a man. I not really sure what will happen, but I sense it’s a small risk worth taking, regardless of the outcome.
GIF via www.champaignestreets.com
10. BE GRATEFUL
In our “As soon as…” world it’s easy to overlook the good in the now
Being grateful might be the best attitude smoothie to start your day with. My favourite time is right after a run or walking my dog, Riley. I’m grateful for my health, my wife, kids, living in Canada … those 2-3 minutes change my day and sharpen a focus on what’s right in the world. “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart. In our “As soon as…” world it’s easy to overlook the good in the now – grab the moment and watch good stuff happen.
Photo credit: Julia Caesar