Summer starts off with waves of opportunity—mind-clearing vacations, stress-reducing outdoor yoga—but often the season fades before we’ve even had time to take advantage of its promises.
Beachy bliss won’t always just present itself on your Hamptons doorstep, says Laurie Gerber, life coach extraordinaire and president of Handel Group Life Coaching. You need a blueprint to achieve your summer goals.
Just how are you going relax your mind and body, for starters?
“Pretend like you are going to have to write that essay when you get back to school in the fall, ‘What I Did on My Summer Vacation,’” she advises. And work backward to put the plan into action.
Here are Gerber’s 6 tips for designing your best (and healthiest) summer yet:
1. Write it down. The most important thing is to actually create a detailed plan, says Gerber, and put it in writing. Start with the tips below. “Extra credit if you read what you wrote, post it somewhere, and/or tell people!”
2. Plan your downtime. Schedule those summer Fridays for group fitness classes with friends—they’re not just going to happen. Ditto plans for learning to paddleboard or trapeze, as well as booking a healthy summer retreat or a trip to a fitness spa.
3. Get ahead at work. Is boosting your career on your to-do list? Take advantage of summer hours and slower email traffic to wow your boss. “Because other people are off, you have a chance to shine by going the extra mile or pulling off a new idea.”
4. Plan vacations carefully. Gerber suggests holding a “pre-meeting” for any trips you’re planning with others, lest you book your Celiac friend for a pizza tour of Italy. “This little bit of air-clearing in the planning stage goes such a long way to avoid conflicts and disappointments,” says Gerber. And don’t fool yourself into expecting perfection: Accept that annoyances exist everywhere, even on Caribbean beaches.
5. Make a meal plan to splurge. “Do not let a ‘summer vacation’ mindset take over your healthy eating habits,” Gerber says. “It will never make you as happy as you wish.” Instead, take advantage of the season’s fresh fruits and veggies and designate “party” nights where fun (read: margaritas) are allowed to trump “healthy.”
6. Try something new. “One summer, I went sky-diving (my life coach told me to), and I’m still not over how proud I was of myself,” Gerber remembers. Facing a fear or learning something new will make you feel great, so fill your calendar with adventure. —Lisa Elaine Held
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