Embracing a New Type of Summer

The lazy days of summer. We think about lively beaches, outdoor concerts, cookouts with friends, sleepaway camps, family vacations and Fourth of July picnics and fireworks. Our thoughts turn this way each Memorial Day, which, in addition to being a day of remembrance for fallen American military, is often celebrated as the unofficial kickoff to the summer.

However, this year, it will be different. Many summer activities have already been canceled because of the pandemic. But, like all things in life, this summer will be what you make of it. It may require some creativity, but there is still fun to be had. You may not get to enjoy your annual family reunion or July 4th BBQ, but there are certainly other ways to enjoy our summer months.

My family typically spends part of our summer at the beach together. This time is special because it brings all of us—children, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles and more—under one roof. There is no doubt I will miss this time to bond as a family and the long summer days spent together on the water. Nevertheless, I am choosing not to dwell and instead welcome the opportunity to make new traditions with my family, friends and community.

I have long been an avid list maker. Whether it’s for personal development or a multi-year business strategy, I believe making a plan is an important first step. Zig Ziglar, a wonderful philosopher and educator, who I admire, once said, “a goal properly set is halfway reached.” This is true in both our professional and personal lives, which have become even more intertwined in recent months due to the current pandemic.

I encourage you to think about what your goals are this summer, whether they are big or small, personal or work-related, and start a list of tasks you want to complete in order to reach your goal. Putting pen to paper or noting benchmarks on a calendar will help you gauge your progress and hold yourself accountable. This summer holds endless potential for growth—take out your calendar and start planning.

I have been thinking about how I can grow my relationships and plan shared experiences with friends and family this summer. With whom do you want to stay connected? Make a list of people and ask them if they would like to work on a project together. This could be something related to health and wellness—how about online yoga classes or weekly neighborhood walks? I find that as I take my neighborhood walks, there is a kindness and community feel that is refreshing. Perhaps you want to focus on something to enrich your mind—partner with a child or grandchild and commit to learning a new language using online tools like Babbel or commit to reading a book every month in a virtual book club.

Creating a better normal

Now may also be the perfect time to finally turn your attention to that home-improvement project you couldn’t get to before. Turn your own backyard into a paradise by taking up gardening—enlist the kids to help design the garden for a fun family activity. You could also focus on your interior space. You might try some new decorating touches that make your space work for you. Starting and finishing an indoor or outdoor project will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Yes, this summer will be different. We can let the days pass us by, or we can do our best to make it interesting and enriching. It’s up to us to decide if we’ll be focused on missing everything we can’t do—or if we’ll take advantage of the opportunity to make special memories and new traditions. Zig Ziglar also said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days.” Grab a pencil and get your summer plans started!

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