Do you plan your summer? Or does it just unfold? In her Happier podcast, Gretch Rubin talks about designing your summer. She believes in making the summer months distinct so that they stand out from rest of the year. When you embrace the summer months and take advantage of what they offer, you create memories to carry with you when the weather turns cold and grey.
Gretchen makes a great point that summer doesn’t have to be about going into relaxation mode. It is really about creating a change from your regular day to day life to make sure summer is special.
This is good news for someone living with ADHD as the idea of unstructured ‘relaxing’ time can feel like a form of torture (this is why weekends can leave you feeling blah).
In order to avoid the bored, restless, depressed or unsettled feelings, you might decide to carry on life as usual, regardless of the seasons. The problem with this ‘business as usual’ approach is it can feel like life is passing you by, and that other people get to do fun things while you are trapped in a dull day to day routine.
Another reason why ADHDers don’t embrace summer is because on some level they feel they don’t deserve to. They feel they have to postpone fun things until they have caught up with work, have an organized home, lost weight etc.
The problem with that approach is that ‘all work and no play’ will lead to feeling blah and low moods too.
One fall, a client came to see me and his eyes brimmed with tears. His summer had been spent on a big project for work. He worked long days and weekends. He thought if he could just finish this project then he would be able to take time to enjoy life. That summer, all his usual summer activities were brushed aside. No barbecues, no beers on the deck with his friends. It wasn’t until October when the project was over that he realized how sad he felt, and it was because he was grieving a lost summer.
Seasonal rituals are important for our enjoyment of life and mental well-being. It is like food for the soul.
Ready to Design Your Summer?
Designing your summer is empowering, as it puts you in the control seat of your life. Set your timer for 1 hour (less time might feel rushed and longer means you are in danger of over planning), and sit down with some paper, a calendar and your favorite drink.
Here are 7 steps to design your best summer yet.
1. Pick your dates
Official summer starts June 21st and ends September 22nd in the northern hemisphere. However, for the purpose of designing your summer, you might pick slightly different dates. For example, if you are a university student, your summer might reflect the academic calendar, or if you have a business, yours could be when historically you have had less customers. If you live in a cold climate, it might be when the warm weather starts.
A 10-12 week time frame is great because it gives you enough time achieve a goal with a sense of urgency.
2. Pick a Goal
What ONE goal would you like to achieve this summer? Choose something you will feel proud of, and that is a stretch yet achievable. This can often trip up people with ADHD! They have big ideas (which is awesome) but get discourage when they don’t achieve it in the time they hoped. If in doubt, run your goal past someone that knows you for a second perspective.
3. What Summer Activities Are You Going to Include?
This step is what makes designing your summer different to regular planning. You are folding in elements of the season into your plans. What summer rituals or events mean summer to you? They might be little, like eating breakfast outside, or bigger events that involve other people. Head here if you need some ideas.
4. What was Your Favourite Summer so Far?
Think back to previous summers. Which stand out? Is there anything from those summers that you could include this summer? As I was designing my summer 2017 (using these steps), I realized a favorite summer was the year I wrote the book Untapped Brilliance. The writing project provided a framework to fit my other summer activities around. So I have included a writing project into this summer’s plans!
5. Make a List
Using the information from points #2, #3 and #4, write down all the actions you can think of (at the moment) to create your summer. You don’t need to know every detail; just write down what you do know about. Your list might include actions to take, supplies to buy or information to gather.
6. Plot it Out
Now is the fun part! On your calendar (digital or paper), plot out your summer! Block out dates you might be going away or events that are happening on certain dates. Then write in the items from #5.
7. Stay the Course
Look at your calendar for a few minutes every day to keep you on track. It will remind you of your big picture and help you to know what daily actions to take.
Congratulations you have designed your summer 🙂