I don’t know if any of you are like me, but I happen to be a sucker for new beginnings. Starting new journals, planning things out for the week, and getting organized are some of my favorite things to do. While many people hail the New Year as the best time for fresh starts and increased focus, summer has always been one of my favorite times to step back, take some time, and get real about what is going on in my life. This also happens to be the perfect time to take a look at how your year has been going so far, make some decisions where they need to be made, and make some strategic investments in yourself and in your future. That being said, I’m going to give y’all 10 things to do this summer to make the best investments possible.
As a planner by nature, there is nothing I love more than getting a head start on things for the upcoming semester. Since I’m usually really busy when school is in session, I like to start planning my trips, upcoming events, and professional moves for the coming months. I usually start off by using a monthly calendar just to get everything in one place. This approach will not only make you feel more organized, it will also help you identify any potential time conflicts in your schedule. One of the best feelings out there is planning how you’ll be spending your time wisely. See the link below for some of my favorite printable calendars. (Sorry guys, they’re girly)
Printable Link: http://elizaellis.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/free-printable-irma-weekly-planners.html
Manage Your Influences
Managing your influences can mean different things to all of us. For me, managing my influences involves getting really critical of what I’m spending my time looking at on social media and television, what I’m listening to, and who I’m listening to. Now that you have a little free time, summer is the perfect time to go on an unfollowing spree, stop binge watching trash TV, and do something constructive. During the summer months I like to trade my playlists for podcasts and get myself out of the house.
If you have a mentor, this is an awesome time to pick their brain about things you could be doing to better yourself. My mentor is the best at suggesting new books for me to read and topics for me to explore (as long as I’m prepared to answer a few questions about what I learned).
Just take some time to protect your space and be mindful of what you’re allowing to influence you.
Podcast Suggestions: The Read, Serial, Slate Presents: Lexicon Valley, Rich Friend: The Elevated Conversation, Heart + Hustle, and Elevation Church
Practice Self Love
This might be my favorite one on the list, mainly because I have to constantly remind myself to do this one. One of the best things about summer is that there is always something to do, but sometimes I can get so caught up in saying yes to others, that I forget to say yes to myself. For me, practicing self love can be anything from a long bubble bath to scheduling a massage at my favorite spa, and everything in between. Loving on yourself does not always have to be extravagant, but prepare to be amazed at how much better you feel when you start to intentionally make time for YOU.
Adjust Your Focus
If the beginning of 2017 did a number on you, (faint not!) there is still hope! Sometimes we can get so caught up in all that’s going on around us that we forget to make time for what really matters. I’m sure this happens to everyone… you get busy just trying to get it all done, and you start to let some other things slip. Summertime is the primetime for prioritizing and shifting your focus back to what really matters to you.
This is always a difficult one for me, because no one wants to spend the summer hiding out in the gym, drinking protein shakes, or not liking the way they look. So instead, I’ll say get healthy instead of get fit! I urge you to be realistic, set attainable goals, get an accountability partner, and cultivate discipline where you need it. Whatever healthy looks like for you physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, make that a priority in the coming months.
Remember, getting healthy doesn’t have to be all about how you look, ‘cause in the words of Black Twitter, “Summer gon’ get whatever body I give it.”
Nurture Personal Relationships
Let me be honest y’all. When I am busy, I can become a distant friend, partner, and even daughter. I can be downright terrible at texting, and sometimes email becomes the best way to reach me, and living like this is EXHAUSTING. When I have extra time (mainly during the summer) I make it a point to visit my out-of-state friends, have more brunches, and make face-to-face interactions a priority. We all know relationships take some real work, so take some time to invest in the ones that matter most to you.
Read, and read some more
If you can’t tell by now, I ALWAYS have a good book somewhere near me! Since I’m usually crazy busy when school is in session, summer is my favorite time to find things to read for pleasure. I love a healthy mix of books that will teach me something, fiction, and autobiographies. Grab a good book and hide out in your favorite coffee shop, you wont regret it!
My Summer Reading List:
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
This Is Just My Face, Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
Write, and write some more
Summer is my favorite time to start a new journal and get obsessive about writing things down. Pen and paper is the perfect judgement-free zone for me to think things through, be brutally honest, and (you guessed it) plan things out. Even if it’s just a line a day, start writing down your thoughts and see how easy it can be! One of the newest trends in journaling is listing, and I will admit, I’m OBSESSED. It’s so easy and fun to do.
My favorite is The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration. You can find it at my favorite place, Barnes & Nobles! Give it a try!
Hands down, this is my favorite topic on the list, because I am rarely ever home! I am firm believer in impromptu road trips and taking the long back roads (in the daylight of course). While some summer travel plans require more planning than others, there are plenty of places you can go that are just a couple of hours away! A quick Google search should bring up plenty of things to do in your area, or at least an hour or so away. Get up a little earlier on Saturdays and discover your next adventure! Now I love driving, so some of my day trips are a good minute away, but they are definitely worth it, and the memories made are priceless.
My Favorite Day Trips:
New Orleans, LA
Tunica Hills, LA
Gulf Shores, AL
Invest (for real)
Listen to me on this one. I know better than anyone else that it is EASY to blow money during the summer time. Do your future self a favor; spend less, invest more. Read about money management or sit down with a financial advisor, but be sure to take yourself and your finances seriously, regardless of how much money you do (or don’t) have.
I hope you find this list helpful and develop some new hobbies on the way. If you have anymore ideas, drop them in the comments! Just remember to be HUMBLE during your glow up this summer.