5 Ways to Make Your Summer Meaningful and Goal-Oriented

Summertime. While I've often bemoaned the Tennessee heat, I really do enjoy this time of year. For me, it's not just about wearing shorts, grilling out, and hitting the beach, though all of those things are a lot of fun. Summer is a season of vibrancy. The sun doesn't set until well after eight in the evening where I am. My early morning runs are dark and serene, while my days feel full and accomplished.

However, I also recognize a tendency to grow complacent this time of year. The BBQs and block parties, the beach trips and lazy summer evenings...they can all create this sense of an idyllic, never-ending season.

While I love enjoying the season, I also have to recognize my need to be productive. You and I only have so much time on this earth, so we need to ensure that we're not wasting the time we've been given. This isn't to say that making memories with friends and family is a waste—far from it.

However, if we're not careful, our lazy summer days result in months of missed opportunities for personal and professional growth.


5 Ways to Set and Achieve Your Summer Goals

1) Write them down.

According to psychologists, there are five defining principles of effective goal-setting. They are:

  • Commitment

  • Clarity

  • Challenge

  • Task Complexity

  • Feedback

One of the things we must do when we're setting goals is to ensure that these goals fall into the right areas of these first four principles. It's difficult for us to commit to goals that lack clarity: goals that are vague and undefined. Instead, write down goals that are specific and detailed. Break down a timeline. If you hope to commit, you have to know what precisely you are committing to. This is the case when someone else asks you to do something, so why is it not true of your own goals?

Regardless, to commit to a goal, it must first be desirable to us and we must have a clear understanding of what it will take to accomplish it. That is why writing it down, in detail, is so crucial.

2) Check in regularly.

Regular check-ins are important. How many times do we set goals, stick to it for a week, and then remember we were supposed to be doing it a month later? Too many times! Scheduling regular goal check-ups with yourself prevents the summer from slipping by. It also allows you to see your progress and adjust your efforts as necessary.

3) Don't share them.

One mistake we often make when setting goals is broadcasting them to the entire world. This, I think, sets us up for failure. Instead of posting your summer ambitions to social media, share your desires with just a few close friends—people you know will keep you accountable. Feedback, remember, is an important principle of goal-setting.

Both immediate internal and external feedback on your performance encourages the pursuit of your goals. You need people who will be specific and pointed in delivering feedback, not yesmen. Get others on board with you. Do it together. This will help you help one another.

4) Leave room for balance.

While the pursuit of one's goals is critical, I daresay leave room for balance. As much as we want to see career and self-improvement, it should not be done at the expense of family and making memories that cannot be replaced. This is not to say you won't and shouldn't make sacrifices. You can skip neighborhood parties and occasional invitations out in order to meet your goals, but leave plenty of room to be present for those who truly matter to you.

Not only will this keep you balanced, but it will also prevent burnout.

5) Know what motivates you.

If you want to reach your goals, you have to stay motivated. Part of this is setting the right goals, but another part is surrounding yourself with the right influences. Are you motivated by a challenge? How much challenge is too much?

How about external factors? Do you want friends and family to cheer you on, or would you rather accomplish your goals on your own? One thing I like to do is surround myself with goal-oriented content. That means I consume podcasts, books, and other media that inspire me to accomplish tasks. They may not be directly related to what I'm doing, but they push me to better myself.

Don't let the summer slip you by this year. Set goals, and get going.

What's been your biggest motivator in completing a seasonal goal? Share your tips in the comments.