If you are like most of my coaching clients (and me), you are often in achievement mode, have a long to-do-list, a busy mind, and find it a little tough to slow down.
Yet we know the pace that most of us have accepted as “normal” is not sustainable on a prolonged basis, nor good for our health (and joy).
My own personal journey, and that of many of my coaching clients, is about developing ways of working and living that allow us to be grounded in what is most important. And this work of an “intentional life” requires regular reflection and check-ins with ourself.
And the natural energy of the summer is the perfect time for these check-ins. Summer is when we get to slow down. It’s the time when others are enjoying vacation, projects are paused, deadlines are laxed – and where we “work” on a rest ethic that is as great as our work ethic. When you are intentional about a Summer Slow Down, you will ground and nourish yourself for Focus Fall.
How can you be intentional about a Summer Slow Down? I have some ideas:
Schedule vacation – for real. Even if you are not planning to go anywhere, can you create long weekends with plans that have the sole purpose of nourishing you? (This looks different to everyone, but might include reading a book, getting into a forest, cleaning a closet, seeing that friend you don’t see enough of.) And while you’re at it – book your vacation for fall and winter too. Work expands to the time we give it – prioritize yourself and your rest first.
Time-block YOU time throughout your days and weeks – Look at your calendar and slot in time for activities that replenish you. Do this with the same level of priority as you would book a meeting with your boss. What are replenishing activities? Booking a lunch break (so you actually take one away from your desk), a 15-minute morning ritual where you can ease into your day with a meditation or reading, a workout or walk with a friend you love, a note in your calendar that prompts you to shut down at 5 … or 3 😉
“Lock-in” your summer memories – Humans are like Velcroe for negative experiences (we attach to them) and Teflon to the positive ones (we forget quickly). One of my favorite practices is to “lock in” my memories – if I am in a beautiful place, having a belly laugh with one of my favorite people, or otherwise moved emotionally, I take a moment to really be present and “lock-in” what I am feeling. Sometimes I take a picture. I oftentimes will make a note of it in my gratitude journal. This practice of locking-in helps me offset my natural (and very human) negativity bias.
Find time for stillness and reflection – in my humble opinion, this may be the most important of all! When we are stuck in “doing” mode and a busy mind, its hard to connect to what we truly want for ourselves. It starts to feel like life is happening "to us". Give yourself the gift this summer of time to get quiet and reflect. Some questions to consider:
🎉 What am I celebrating in terms of my accomplishments and learning this year?
😎 What is working? What am I still working on?
⏱️ Am I spending my most precious resource (time) in a way that aligns with my core values?
🔮 If I were to fast-forward to the end of the year and look back, what will make me feel proud?
And with the answers we find, we use the information not to judge ourself, nor flip our life upside down (unless that is what we want), but to make some micro-shifts towards a summer, and a life, that feels great to us.