Many New Year’s resolutions start in January and are discarded like an old sweater by May. But as the summer season officially launches in June, it, too, offers the chance to start over and make some low key, high reward intentions. Not all goals have to be driven by self-improvement; some can—and should be—about relaxation and relationships, while others—perhaps as many as possible—should be about stoking the fun meter and enjoying time outside.
I like the idea of setting three levels of summer intentions: backyard, around town, and travel worthy. Otherwise, the short season of abundance vanishes too quickly. Having a list of objectives helps me get organized, find the right partners, and keep urgent but less important concerns from crowding out how I really want to spend my time.
Backyard intentions are all about food. BBQ on your patio at least once a week; invite people over to make S’mores and enjoy your new fire pit, and be willing to leave the comfort of your after-work routine to go to a friend’s house, too. Find new recipes to spice up the surplus greens from your garden. Finally string that dusty hammock between two trees and settle in with a book and some snacks.
Around-town ambitions should center on having fun with friends. Try a new, close-enough-to-walk-to eatery before the days begin to shorten again—or, visit an old haunt and check out its new offerings. Make a day out of it and see how many breweries you can visit by bike. Search for a new favorite outdoor patio for sipping summery cocktails.
Travel-worthy missions are my favorite part of summer, as long days offer a blank canvas for so many different kinds of adventures. A good adventure finds the sweet spot between challenge and ability. If something is too easy, and all the variables are obvious, it’s an enjoyable activity but not an adventure. If it’s too hard, and you feel a sense of dread rather than excitement, then it’s an arduous chore. Adventures should stoke your psyche and make you excited to try something new. And they should make you feel proud of yourself and your efforts, regardless of the outcome.
This issue offers suggestions for all three categories: backyard intentions, around-town ambitions, and travel-worthy missions. A good place to start is Amy McCaffree’s 100 summertime adventure ideas. Thumb through the rest of the issue, take a few notes, and get inspired.
Finally, don’t worry about it if you don’t hit every item on your list. It’s simply a tool to help you focus on and make time for the things you love. The only thing to feel guilty about at the end if the summer is not enjoying it.