Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin coined the term "design your summer," and the concept is actually really simple: You decide what you want to achieve over the summer — and by the way, relaxation absolutely counts as an achievement — and then craft a plan to make it happen.
You also want summer to feel different from other seasons, like it did when you were a kid and had a break from school. Designing your summer is about taking it back for yourself, it's about making summer exciting, fun, and playful again.
Intrigued by the concept? Now that it's almost summer, we're all thinking about how to make the most of the months ahead. Here's your step-by-step guide to designing a summer that leaves you feeling joyful and rejuvenated. And who knows, maybe you'll crush some goals, too.
How to Design Your Summer
1. Come up with your biggest summer goal
If you have a bunch of goals or a summer bucket list (and we'll get into that in a bit!) that's great. But it's important to sit down and figure out what your biggest summer goal is first. Is it to relax and unplug? Is it to go after a big life goal that you didn't have time to pursue during busier times of the year? Is it to refine a hobby or skill? Getting clear on your "big goal" of the summer is the most important step.
2. Make a summer bucket list
Now comes the fun part of designing your summer: Make a summer bucket list. Yes, this should be focused around your big summer goal, but a bucket list can also help you naturally carve out time for play, rest, and self-care, all three of which are essential to actually achieving your goals. Here's an example of what some of the items on your summer bucket list might entail:
- Travel to a new place
- Take advantage of the long days by waking up an hour earlier
- Spend one hour a day working toward (fill in the bank for your "big goal.")
- Put your feet in the sand at least once
- Go for a bike ride
- Have a picnic
- Read 10 books
Remember, this bucket list can be as long or as short as you want! If you have 30 items, great — just make sure it's an actually doable list.
3. Figure out how you'll execute these plans
All of your planning and bucket list-making won't get you very far if you don't make a plan to make sure they actually happen. So sit down and think about it: When would be a good time for a weekend trip? How will your schedule be different this summer compared to the rest of the year, and when can you make time to carry out different goals and plans? Getting clear on this is key.
4. Make sure this time of year feels "different" from other times
Think back to summer when you were a kid: There was something so magical and different about that time of year, because you didn't have to go to school. Even if you now work full-time and summer actually isn't all that different for you compared with other times of the year, take a long hard look at your "design your summer" plan and ask yourself: Am I distinguishing this time from the other three seasons? If you're not, you've probably missed the point, which is to make summer feel special. So if your plan is feeling a little ... blah so far, see if at the very least you can incorporate a few more points on your bucket list that make the season feel special and different.
5. Change up your wardrobe
While this will partly be a necessity due to warmer weather, having a summer-specific wardrobe can help set the season apart. Wear bright colors, and use accessories to take your summer outfits to the next level. Add a statement necklace, a pair of sunglasses, or a fun hat to your look. This will make the season feel like yours and evoke more joy.
6. Have fun
On top of making sure summer feels like a special, different time of year, summer is supposed to be fun. So as you design your summer — or if you start carrying out your plan and realize you're not having the best time with it — revisit your plan and take a long, hard look at what you can change. With a few tweaks (like knocking a few items off your bucket list), you'll be having a blast in no time.
7. Find a buddy
Designing your summer is more fun with a friend, so find someone who will be your "design your summer" buddy, either from an accountability perspective (you don't want to fall back into boring, pre-summer patterns!), or someone who will tackle some of your summer bucket list items with you.
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