We find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve. – Maxwell Maltz
For most people September is much more the beginning of a new year than January. In the northern hemisphere, July and August see families unwind and relax, then towards the end of August they start gearing up for school, start new projects at work and take on new hobbies outside of school and work.
August, therefore, becomes the default recharging month so in September we’re ready to run at full speed.
Here are eight ways to recharge your spirit so this pseudo New Year kicks off with a bang:
As we head into September with all its new commitments, it’s important to take time for yourself. Even if you aren’t going away on vacation, plan some me-time that disconnects you from all your worries and cares.
Whether it’s meditation, losing yourself in a good book, or napping pool- or beach-side, you’ll have a lot more energy, passion and interest for the new tasks starting up if you take some serious downtime first.
Since I live on the ocean, I’ve set up a pattern of working hard in the mornings then spending late afternoons on the beach. By the time September rolls around, I’ll be so relaxed and peaceful I’ll be chomping at the bit to start back at my part-time job of teaching English.
Having fun, laughing until your stomach hurts and letting go of responsibilities for a moment will recharge you better than anything. Even if you don’t have kids, if you designate some time each day to be silly, you’ll be amazed how great it makes you feel.
For example, my partner and I usually do something silly just before going to bed, meaning we go to sleep with a smile on our face. Usually it’s a totally absurd action of putting a well-loved childhood stuffed bear in a strange position and then coming up with some creative way of explaining why he’s like that.
Among the many interpretations of actions, we’ve had the bear believing that he’s a vampire bat, an acrobat, or a flying squirrel. We’ve had him brushing his teeth, ready to leap off the top of the door to scare the other person, and doing a conga line down the middle of the bed with other toys.
The lazy hot days of August offer a perfect opportunity for daydreaming. By letting your imagination run wild, you might surprise yourself with something new and exciting to try when life gets busy again.
The trick with daydreaming is to push it to the extremes. Don’t get stuck in the same repetitive dream – expand on it and explore its variants until you can’t recognize the original shape.
I’m currently working with a client who is thinking of taking some sort of course. He’s not sure what exactly interests him, however, so I’ve told him to come up with 50 ideas. Yes, that’s right 50. By pushing himself to come up with many more ideas than he thinks possible, he’ll go past the easy answers and will likely find some activity that will really ignite a passion he didn’t even know he had.
While too much talking can be a substitute for action, too little talking can mean misunderstandings, anger and stress. Families need to discuss priorities, options, and limitations. Even if you live alone without children, talking about your dreams can help you make them feel more real. However be careful not to over-talk a dream or you may kill its spark.
You’ll recognize the difference between the two by noting when the talking doesn’t include any of the steps along the way. Talking that avoids action includes complaining about everything that’s wrong with your life now and how great it will be later, once you accomplish your dreams without any thought to how you would make the change.
Productive talking recognizes that projects and dreams are journeys and the talking exists to make the steps concrete and to create excitement and enthusiasm.
If you’re talking productively you’ll find yourself eager and ready to get started. If not, you’ll be quite content to continue talking until next summer without lifting a finger.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do and have everyone around you on board with the idea, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to do it. It’s all well and good to decide to do something but unless you have a (simple) plan to see it through to action, all the dreaming and talking will be wasted.
Success usually comes from following through on a few simple effective actions repeated and measured. Therefore when creating your plan you will want to not only choose your actions carefully, but also choose how you will measure progress.
For example, if you want to take Karate, you might choose taking a class and practicing at home as your actions. Your measurement therefore would be your progress with each of the movements you’ve been taught and your progression through the various levels within the sport and maybe the hours you practice at home.
By this I mean taking a look at your plan and cutting out all the extra stuff. Give children options for extracurricular activities – an “or” instead of an “and.” The same goes for you. You might want to take Karate, learn Mandarin and join the PTA, as well as renovate the bathroom on your own, but unless you’ve figured out how to create more hours in a day, you can’t do it all. Pick priorities and keep it simple.
The best way to do this is to create a timetable for the entire family. Make sure that there is a good balance of white space (i.e., activity free) in the schedule for everyone to recharge on a weekly basis and that family activities don’t require complex chauffeuring schedules or a lack of shared mealtimes.
Simplifying can also mean the physical. In August most families do their major clothe and supplies shopping. Before you do, however, take stock of what you have and what’s usable by whom and buy as little as possible. A streamlined home does a lot to keep the soul recharged throughout the year.
And when you do go out shopping, take lists with you. Stores often rely on people to buy on impulse expensive things that aren’t actually useful. By having a clear list of what you need, it makes equipping everyone for school, work, and personal life a walk-in-get-it-and-leave breeze.
This final step is the most important one. When stress (of the good or bad sort) rises, people often forget to breathe. Poor respiration causes bad stress levels to increase and anxieties and worries to appear out of thin air. These worries can then undo all the benefits of a month of recharging within moments stripping our internal batteries of everything we’ve stored up.
Here are some breathing exercises for when you forget to open the lungs up and take a long relaxing breath.
By getting started early on your relaxing, recharging and regrouping when September rolls around you won’t find yourself running all over the place scrambling to pull together the right materials for possibly too many activities and ruining all the relaxations summer has provided you.