Success Summer Style – 5 Beneficial Activities for Your Time Off

If you are a person who gets time off during the summer, you can choose to be summer lazy, or you can choose to utilize a small portion of your time off to increase your chances of being successful in your endeavors. Here’s five things that you can do during the summer to recharge your batteries and build your chances of making it to the top in whatever you do.

1. Work on creating good habits

Habits are the building blocks of success. One of the greatest leadership books of all times is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Do good things over and over until they start to happen without you even thinking about them. There are so many good habits you can build for yourself. Reading is essential to growth. Whether it is the sports page or books on philosophy, reading daily will keep your brain working and grow your vocabulary and writing skills, no matter your age. Exercising is another great habit that you can build over the summer. Even something as simple as a 30 minute walk regularly has great health benefits. How about journaling regularly? It helps you organize your thoughts, and it is a great way to record for you or your family the great things that happen. It is a proven fact that journaling helps your brain relive good events that happened to you and that has outstanding affects on your mood. My journal is actually a book of letters to my son. Hopefully, in years to come he will enjoy all of the great events in his life that I have chronicled for him. Maybe there will be smiles AND lessons in there for him. Spend your time off creating habits that will keep benefiting you for years to come.

2. Family time

As my son gets closer and closer to finishing up college, I am more and more aware that he is going to be heading out to start his own life soon enough and that means less time with me. Whether you are the child or the parent, you can drive more family time. A strong family is definitely one of the keys to success. Make sure you allot some time weekly to spend with the people you love the most. Share goals, successes and compliments. Every one will benefit from time spent together.

3. Learn a new skill

Isn’t there something out there that you have wanted to master. Get out there and do it. Learn to juggle, or play the guitar, or design websites, or learn to cook, or take up photography. There are countless “how-to” videos on the internet. Don’t know what it is that you want to do? Spend some time watching TED Talks, you are sure to find some inspiration there in the hundreds of talks they have online. There are sections and sections of books on every imaginable topic at your local bookstore. If you add one new skill each year, imagine the things you will be able to do in your life. My friend, Ed Kilgore, a former sports director in town climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro AND wrote a book, all after his 63rd birthday. Doesn’t matter how old you are, you can learn new skills.

4. Explore

Curiosity is one of the keys to great success. Take things apart and see how they work and then put them back together again. Go hiking or fossil hunting. Park your car and walk around new areas of your city or town. Visit museums and see things that are new to you. Eat ethnic foods that you have never eaten before. Drop your canoe or kayak in a place you’ve never paddled before. Exploration is a path to thinking and thinking is an ingredient to innovation and success. You don’t have to spend a lot money. There are also sorts of places to explore for free or cheap. Almost every town or city has nature trails or parks to explore for free. Get out there and see new things. You never know what you may find.

5. Volunteer

There are few more thought provoking or rewarding activities than giving back to your community. Even better if you can find an activity near and dear to your heart. There are not-for-profit organizations and church groups. You can participate in neighborhood clean ups, read books to young kids, or raise money for the local children’s hospital. Volunteering is also a great way to impress people and grow your network. This is also a great opportunity for family time. Working together, with the people you love, for a common good, is one of the most rewarding activities ever.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it grows your mind, body, or network of people you know. The one thing you don’t want to do with your time off is to waste it. No one ever gets better by  watching hours of television on beautiful days.



Journaling Positive and Passing Traditions

I’ve posted my favorite TED Talk by Shawn Achor several times, so I won’t post the whole video again, just click the link. I like the idea of training your brain to put you in a positive place. One of the things that I particularly like is his idea of journaling about one positive experience you have had in the past 24 hours, and that allows for your brain to relive it, which combined with some other actions in the video, allows you to retrain your brain to default to looking for the positive first. So, I am trying it. I’ll let you know how it works out. Journaling also works as a stress management tool. 

The second cool thing about journaling is that it allows you to communicate with your future self and, more importantly, your future children and grandchildren. It allows you to share with them stories and chronicle important things that have happened in your family, in your life, and in their lives. By writing about the events when they happen, they are fresh in your mind, and the details are rich. The context of the events also shines through when you write when the ideas are fresh in your consciousness.

You don’t have to be an accomplished writer to begin to keep a journal. Particularly if you are writing to yourself or to family members. Like a small gift, it is the thought that counts. You can do it in any format you want. You can write, record audio, shoot video, draw pictures. With today’s technology, the sky is the limit. Have fun…..pass on your family history and traditions through some wonderful stories.

A few years ago I decided that I would start to journal as well. I decided to do it as a book of letters to my son. I start each letter with “Dear Adam,” and then I try to tell him some stories, record some history, and/or offer some advice. I hope that someday, he reads it with as much joy as it gave me to write it. I hope that there are some lessons in there. I hope that it is something he shares. I think my father-in-law has a group of letters that his father wrote to him when he was younger. He has kept them all of these years, because it is a piece of his father, an insight into a man who has been dead for many years. To a certain extent it is a legacy, a form of immortality.

If you are young and unmarried without children….so what? You don’t have to be a wise old sage to chronicle your life for future generations. You don’t have to already be a parent to offer advice based on your experiences. No matter what age we are, we have great accomplishments and we make big mistakes. Why not share the positive thoughts and lessons with your future generations?

For me, it is a fun exercise that makes me smile when I do it. I like knowing that I am passing some things down to the next generation, and while I am writing, it lets me be with him, even when he is away from home.