1. DON’T Say YES too often.
There’s a school of thought that says you limit yourself by not saying yes to situations and opportunities that come up as options, but summer is about finding time to relax and give yourself space. Take a break from “yes” and decline gracefully. A friend of mine has a great way to do this. She says: “Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’m focused on several things right now that need my full attention. I appreciate your understanding.” Many times we feel the need to explain in depth why we can’t do something. Even setting aside time to relax, alone or with family, is worth focusing your full attention on. No need to apologize or explain; just try my friend’s approach!
2. DON’T take a LONG vacation.
If you are a perfectionist about vacation planning – how long, how far, what we’ll do etc., you may never take a vacation at all this summer. Staycations are really catching on and afford a wonderful opportunity to visit sites and places right in your own backyard. So often when we don’t have a vacation scheduled, we are reluctant to take long weekends or a few days here and there. Get out your calendar and mark off time off for luxuriating in the summer sun. My husband and I celebrated the Summer Solstice at a Chinese lantern-lighting event locally. It was as exotic as a trip to China. Even a few hours at a local attraction can be wonderfully recharging.
3. DON’T make your FAMILY vacation, your only vacation.
No matter how much we love our families, it’s important to take a strategic break from what we’re doing at work and at home to enjoy the stillness of our own company. Plan a day trip or even a few hours where you can do what you want to when you want to, and leave negotiating behind. In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist Way, she suggests that we can become more creative and learn about other facets of ourselves by taking ourselves on a date to a place we haven’t been before. Try it!
4. DON’T sweat it.
Stop worrying about how everything will get done. When a heavier workload falls to the people who remain at the office, don’t fixate on who’s missing—think about what skills need replacing. If your graphic designer is out of pocket and you can’t get a project done, it’s not that you need her—you need graphic design skills. You can probably find an independent contractor to fill the bill. If you switch your focus from “who” to “what” you can reduce your worries. Research has shown that approximately 80 percent of the things we worry about never happen.
5. DON’T deny yourself.
Go ahead – enjoy food this summer! Don’t let dieting deprive you of summertime favorites like lemonade or ice cream. There’s a school of thought that it’s not just the calories you count, but how you view what you’re eating that has its true effect on you. Guilt trips are inherently unhealthy. A sensible little splurge doesn’t indicate the onset of a horrible lifestyle. Metaphysics teaches that the energy you put into your eating, such as the way you visualize what is going to happen when you eat certain foods, creates its effect in your body. Someone on a gluten-free diet (by choice not because they are allergic to wheat) who decides to have pizza, then directs energy to obsessing its internal effects, is actually creating a less healthy effect than what they imagine the pizza will do. If you are thankful for what you eat and do it in moderation, anything is okay.
Summer is an ideal time to create more life balance – after all, the days are longer, school is out and people are taking vacation. Don’t let it slip by without indulging yourself mind, body and spirit.
Mary Key, Ph.D. is a trusted advisor and Founder of the Key Women’s Leadership Forum. She is the author of several books, most recently, Seizing Success: A Woman’s Guide to Transformational Leadership. Learn more at www.keyassociatesinc.com