During this time of year, my Instagram feed is filled with photos of friends relaxing by the pool, barbecuing in the backyard, going on vacation, and brunching in sunny cafes. School is out, and even for those of us no longer living in terms of semesters, summertime can be one of the most difficult seasons in which to stay focused on our work or goals.
I don’t know about you, but seeing everyone else having an amazing summer often leaves me feeling like my life is rather stagnant. I get caught up playing the “If” game. I could go on an awesome vacation IF my boss finally gave me that raise he’s been promising. I could make some progress on this project IF I could just gather up some motivation. I could reach my fitness goal IF I had a gym membership and didn’t have to run in this heat. On and on it goes. My goals and aspirations die a slow, painful death via the big “If.”
Maybe you have your own version of this game that keeps you from moving forward like you want to. It’s time to kick these games to the curb and take some action.
Here are a few tips for staying focused and beating the lazy summer blahs:
Take stock of how you’re currently spending your time. Are you spending too many hours on social media? How often are you checking Facebook, watching TV, or getting sucked into the black hole of YouTube? While it’s good and healthy to take time to chill, we can lose hours and hours of our days and not even be aware of it.
Once you have a good idea of how you’re spending your time, make a list of your goals or projects. When you have everything written down, number them in order of importance. Sometimes it’s easy to feel frozen solely because we have no idea where to start. Seeing a tangible list of things we want to accomplish can help us feel like our tasks are more manageable.
2. Make a plan.
One of the best ways to keep on top of tasks is to set your own due dates. Give yourself a limited amount of time to accomplish each task and set up an accountability system. Ask a good friend or family member to check in on your progress, or come up with a reward for when you accomplish a goal by your due date.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel frozen solely because we have no idea where to start.
3. Do just one thing
Break down each goal or project into sub-tasks. Break those sub-tasks into even more sub-tasks until you can take immediate action on at least one thing. Instead of writing “finish thesis paper,” break it down into actionable tasks such as, “gather web sources, email questions to advisor, write outline, etc.”
On those really lazy summer days when it feels almost impossible to even get off the couch, take a deep breath, grab your list, and do just. one. thing. Forward motion is the new game.
4. Rise above the “ifs.”
Maybe you can’t ditch work and take an awesome vacation right now. But, I bet you can pack up a picnic, a good book and a blanket and find a sunny spot to relax for an afternoon. Maybe you can’t move to a big city tomorrow to start your acting career, but you can prepare for that day by continuously honing your talents through singing every day and practicing your monologues.
Don’t let those “if’s” keep you from making progress or accomplishing something. Do what you can with what you have wherever you are.
What are the “ifs” in your own life that may be hindering you from forward motion? What is one thing you can do today?
Image via Gillian Stevens