It’s officially June, which means summer is upon us.
Most people I know think of this time of year as a time to day-drink by the pool, go to the beach, hang out on a boat (if you know someone with a boat), meet up with friends on rooftop bars, and so on. And while I certainly enjoy doing all those things, those activities actually aren’t the first things that come to mind when I think of summer.
What I think of are goals.
More specifically, which goals I’d like to achieve by the time fall comes around (and winter shortly after).
For as long as I can remember, this is how I’ve always treated my summers — going as far back as summer vacation in high school, and even middle school. Summer was my time to explore new video games and challenge myself to defeat bosses. Summer was my time to get better at playing hockey, or record songs in my bedroom closet. Summer has always been a time of embracing a new challenge, and then pushing myself to overcome that challenge in a condensed period of time.
And don’t forget: talking about your goals won’t bring them to life.
You’re going to have to work hard this summer to see your goals come to fruition.
Telling yourself, “This summer, I’m going to…” isn’t enough.
Instead, take an afternoon or an evening and really think about what you want project you want to get done, what skill you want to practice, what goal you want to achieve — and then write it down.
Write it somewhere you can see it. Write it somewhere that’s part of your daily routine (like on your desk, or on your bathroom mirror). And then, taking a page out of one of my favorite books, Think and Grow Rich, read that intention or that reminder you’ve written down out loud on a daily basis.
Speak it into existence.
Truthfully, goal-setting is easy.
It’s the accountability side of things people struggle with.
Instead of thinking about your summer as one massive chunk of time (90 days), try to visualize your summer as 3 separate chapters (June, July, and August). Then, break each one of those chapters down into sub-chapters (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4). And then within those sub-chapters, really internalize each day that makes up each one of those weeks (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7).
Now, set micro-goals for each.
Where do you want to be at the end of, say, June? And what goals do you need to achieve in order to get there? How can you break those goals down into weekly milestones? And how can you break each one of those milestones down into daily micro-milestones?
The more you can help yourself see the next step in front of you (opposed to the entire 3-month journey), the more likely you are to remain consistent and connected to the process.
When I was talking about my June goal with one of my closest friends, he said, “There’s no way you’re going to be able to do that.”
“Watch me,” I said. “I’ve been putting this off for too long. I’m going to do it.”
“I bet you 100 push-ups you won’t,” he said.
“Deal.” And we shook on it.
Now, why I even had that conversation with my friend in the first place was because I wanted him to help hold me accountable. I wanted him to ask me in a week, or two weeks, how things were going — and how close or far I was from achieving my goal.
What I don’t recommend, however, is telling anyone and everyone in your life what your summer goals are.
Because science has actually proven that you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you keep them to yourself (there’s a terrific TED talk on the topic).
I find summer to be one of the most inspiring times of year.
It’s a great time to allow yourself to create things you might not normally create — or make progress in directions you wouldn’t otherwise prioritize. For me, summer has always been about picking goals that are less directly correlated with professional success, and more about self-expression and long-term creativity. It’s my way of maintaining some sort of connection to that child-like feeling of “summer vacation,” where these 3 months don’t feel like the rest of the year.
I’ve always been a big believer in routine changes and creative breaks, so treat your summer as a way of reconnecting with a different part of yourself.
You’ll be thankful you did.
One of the best ways to keep yourself engaged is to constantly feed yourself that same type of external material.
For example, let’s say your summer goal is to finish writing your first (or second, or third) book. Well, then I would recommend you read other books within your same genre — to keep the ideas flowing, and inspire you to see it through to the end. I’d also recommend you listen to podcasts that touch on the same topics you’re writing about (to give you some added perspectives), and that you watch documentaries or Netflix shows that tackle similar themes.
All these input sources will only add fuel to the fire.
Of course, all the above means nothing unless you deliberately make the time to work toward your goals.
This is always the hardest part for people — saying “No” to the Saturday neighborhood festival, or the group of friends that wants to go to the beach. We hate feeling “left out.” We don’t always like the idea of staying home and working quietly, by ourselves. Sometimes, we even feel guilty for not being outside, for not being more social, for not X, Y, and Z.
But these are the tough choices you’re going to have to make — if you want to end the summer with a big goal of yours completed and achieved.
Originally published on Medium.
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