Design Your Summer To Expand Your Comfort Zone
No matter how much you’ve prepared, summer is here to stay (at least for the next three months). Have you ever thought of approaching summer as the third opportunity for a New Year’s resolution for the year? After spring as a sort of second occasion, summer could be the perfect season to expand your comfort zone. It’s the beginning of an amazing time out of which we can have the best. So, how can you make your summer special? By designing for it!
Start With You
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when we talk about favorite seasons. What if I ask: what is your favorite season of the year? It might sound counterintuitive at first to a person like me who loves summer, but there is only a 25% that you will answer summer as well. This is what I just learned from a 2005 Gallup article Most Popular Season Coming to an End
The Gallup Poll finds 36% of Americans naming spring as their favorite season of the year, while 27% prefer fall, 25% summer, and just 11% winter. Each time Gallup has asked the question—in 1947, 1960, and 2005—spring has been the season people are most likely to name as their favorite.
What about you?
What is your favorite season? What about summer?
My relationship with summer changed a lot growing up. Like most of the kids, I used to do a real countdown, every month, day, and hour until summer began. Summer at the time meant activities like organizing the greatest show with all the kids from the neighborhood, holiday trips with my family, sunbathing, and a lot of outdoor activities. My birthday is also in summer, and I remember all-day-long birthday parties. I still have a sort of fairy tale memories of my childhood summers.
When I grew up the relationship changed completely. When I started working full time, I didn’t even realize it was summer. It sounds a bit sad, but it wasn’t—or at least not completely. It was just a shift in priorities and a shift in lifestyle, which I think I was able to deal with quite well. I was passionate about my job; I was learning and growing and experiencing new things. Summer was there. It just wasn’t the central part of the year anymore.
Nowadays my priorities have shifted again, and overall I am trying to be more mindful. I am trying to appreciate what is happening in the moment. I am trying to practice what I call “start with you.” I am in a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and respect for myself—who I am, what I like, what I want.
Whatever relationship you have with summer, you should start with you and use this time the way you like. If it is time to relax and enjoy nightlife and friends, go for it. If it is time to work harder than the rest of the year, do it!
We are the ones making the real difference in the way we approach our lives and our time. And summer can be the right time frame to do whatever suits you to expand your comfort zone. As soon as we design for it!
Design for summer
Design for summer—aka figure out what you want from your upcoming season—is an idea I discovered a couple of weeks ago while listening Gretchen Rubin podcast #224 from the series “Happier with Gretchen Rubin,” which inspired me deeply. Rubin, a writer who relentlessly explores human nature to understand how we can make our lives better, was first inspired by this idea when she read a passage by the writer Robertson Davies in his essay “Three Worlds, Three Summers” in the collection The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies:
“Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year… My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer.”
I recommend the entire series, but this particular episode made me think of a couple of Comfort Zone Shake-Up ingredients: New Year’s resolutions and time management.
The third New Year’s resolution of the year
I know that it sounds strange to talk about New Year’s resolutions when deciding how to celebrate summer but please, stay with me! In everything you (probably) already know about New Year’s resolutions, I talked about why people sometimes fail to keep resolutions beyond January. A yearlong plan is something very difficult—sometimes unrealistic—to keep up with.
That’s why I recommended dividing the year into parts to shake things up. You have a lot of options: two semesters, four quarters, twelve months, etc. Among those options, of course you have the seasons. Based on that choice, summer could be seen as a new start for your plans. Summer is the third season—and so sort of the third New Year’s resolution moment of the year, when we can have a fresh start and when, most importantly, we have a three-month period to work with.
We have 3 months, 90 days, 2160 hours to make our summer special. Which brings me to the other ingredient.
Time management and summer management
How to look at time management and the recommendation to shake it up fits perfectly here too. It’s summer, and you should really aim to have your portion of ozio creativo! You should think about your time in terms of different categories: work, study, and play. You should define your priorities and plan for them.
How to design for summer
Look at your summer from a macro perspective—one summer, three full months—and I am sure you have plans already: vacations, concerts, adventures, etc. But do not forget to look at your summer also from a micro perspective—one summer, 90 days, 2160 hours. There is so much time to grab and use to work on yourself, to expand your comfort zone, and to find your WOW. My summer resolutions are almost ready. What about you?
How are you planning to spend your summer?