by Deanna Parkton
Summer, sweet summer. It is a time to unwind, let go of strict schedules and enjoy time with friends and family. The carefree days of summer allow us to take work a little less seriously, and refocus our efforts on spending time with loved ones. When September hits, it can feel like the onset of a harsh reality with new priorities and new schedules. We might feel required to get into serious mode and let go of the spontaneity of summer.
On a positive note, September is a great time to set goals and find new routines. The start of a new school year brings us into a mindset of starting anew. We can reflect on what worked or didn’t work for us last year, and we can find new ways to find happiness and balance in our day-to-day lives. For tips on making the most of these “new year” vibes, check out our previous post on September goal setting.
For some people, the idea of letting go of Summer brings a feeling of sadness instead of rejuvenation. In fact, about 5 percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression. Interestingly enough, the farther one lives from the equator, the more at risk they are for seasonal depression. For this reason and more, being intentional and mindful about how you are going to approach the change of seasons can make a big difference in your work-life balance and happiness.
If the feeling of jumping into Fall and letting go of Summer has you feeling a bit down, consider thinking about how you might be able to integrate some fun and flexibility into your days.
As you set goals, how might you be able to combine the relaxed nature of summer with the renewed sense of purpose in the fall?
Let’s take some lessons from the summer months and bring them into our Fall routine.
- Find flexibility in your schedule and routine
During the summer months, you may find yourself being more flexible with your typical bedtime or be more loose with your working hours. How can you find this same flexibility in your day-to-day life as the seasons change? Maybe you implement a weeknight dinner with friends every so often or you alternate your work hours to make time for yourself every few weeks. Finding flexibility can help you see the big picture and give you space to breathe and think.
- Take time off work
While many of us use all of our vacation time during the summer, how can you plan more trips and fun for yourself during the fall, winter and spring months? More companies are implementing more flexible paid time off, which might allow for some winter travel. Creating new traditions throughout the year will give new things to look forward to, even as the weather gets colder.
- Make time for play
How can you incorporate the spirit of “play” during the fall, winter and spring months? Summer gives us many opportunities to play, whether it’s jumping over waves at the beach, kayaking, fishing, swimming or picnicking outside. The outdoor (or even indoor!) play doesn’t have to end as the weather chills. Make it a point to bundle up and get outside during the winter too! This will help you find balance as the stress of the year inevitably creeps up.
- Make space for colleagues’ personal lives
During the summer, chat of weekend and vacation plans becomes a topic of conversation. It is expected and encouraged that people take time off work, and stories of vacations and fun activities take priority at the start of a meeting. As summer gets farther in the rearview mirror, less focus might be spent on chatting about fun weekend plans. Keep the excitement alive by asking your coworkers about their plans, their family, and their friends. By making space for our colleagues’ personal lives, we are encouraging others to show up as their full selves, rather than a compartmentalized version of themselves.
The end of the summer does not have to mean the end of fun. Think about how you can keep the Summer spirit alive at both work and home, in a way that helps you find balance and energy. Not only do you deserve it, but it will help you bring your best self to your work, your colleagues, your friends and your family.
For more ideas on how you can manage boundaries around your work, consider working with a career coach. A coach can help you identify strategies to face workplace challenges head on. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here.
Deanna Parkton is a writer, career coach and educator with a passion for professional development and work wellness and happiness. With a focus on self-reflection, she works with individuals in their quest to reach their career goals as well as satisfaction in work-life balance. You can find more of her writing at workinglivingwell.com and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.