I don’t know about you, but I start getting antsy about how I’m wasting my summer vacation (and, honestly, my life) if I’m not having The Best Summer of My Entire Life by July 4th. Maybe some of you are like me. You haven’t gone on any movie-worthy road trips, or feel like you’ve made any lifelong memories, or even managed to just have a really good night out yet. Fear not—here’s a step-by-step guide to adding some sizzle to any lackluster summer.
1. Get off Facebook
Looking at all of the fun stuff other people are doing without you helps no one. It just makes you feel crappy and sometimes you start resenting your friends for hanging out without you or even just for (apparently) having a more exciting life than you do. Overindulging in the Facebook statuses of others can result in viewing your life from an outsider’s perspective—something to be judged by the collective social value of the stories and photos you can take from it. Stop comparing yourself and your life to others and remember this: as long you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re not wasting anything.
2. Critically examine your Netflix habit
Take it from me: watching fictional characters live lives can be a crutch. That being said, one of the best summers I had was when I discovered a cheap video rental place near me and got to rent all of the stuff I wanted to see that Netflix didn’t have. In lieu of foregoing media entirely, I’m asking you to at least mix up your watching habits. Try new shows. Watch them with new people. Throw movie marathon parties and bake themed food. I’m the kind of nerd who doesn’t see anything wrong with planning your social schedule around shows, as long as you’re having fun with it.
3. Reflect and evaluate
If you find yourself dissatisfied but are waiting for life to happen to you, then it’s probably time to implement change. If you’re already aware that maybe it’s time to try doing things a little bit differently, ask yourself why you haven’t already. What’s holding you back? If the thought of stepping outside of your comfort zone makes you break out into hives, find out what it is you’re so afraid of so that you can one day conquer it.
4, Throw away your lists of summer goals
Yes, even the good ones. Start fresh. Make something new. We change every day, so review your hopes, dreams, and to-do lists and edit edit edit.
5. Buy a new journal and/or start a summer blog
The point of this step is to hold yourself accountable. You’ll be much more likely to stick with a goal if you chart your progress. New journals represent beginning a new chapter. No matter how much time you think you’ve wasted or how many other blank books you’ve bought already and still haven’t written in, it’s never too late to start something new. (Plus, I just really love any excuse to buy new journals. It’s like the only reason I keep going to Marshall’s.)
6. Find a partner in crime
Is your bestie bored with her life too? Does an acquaintance of yours sound vaguely dissatisfied every time you ask her what she’s up to? Make a pact (blood optional) to change things. Suddenly this whole thing just became a lot more legit.
7. Dress up
If you’re like me, sometimes you buy cute dresses and don’t wear them for like two months because you don’t have anywhere to go besides the grocery store. Stop waiting for an excuse to wear that awesome outfit you bought that makes you feel like the star of your own adorably quirky sitcom. I don’t care if you’re just running out to CVS for hair-removal cream; put that sucker on. When you start wearing the clothes you feel best in, you’ll start feeling better not only about yourself, but about life in general. There’s nothing like the perfect carefree dress to make it really feel like summer, even if you are just lounging in your own backyard.
8. Say YES
This is the part where you have to change, at least a little bit. If you want different results, you have to do things differently. There’s no way around it. When I’m bored with my life, I become Jim Carrey in Yes Man. Agreeing to everything other people suggest is a sure-fire way to catapult you out of your comfort zone – like, way way out. Please put this tip into practice responsibly and don’t end up in ridiculous and dangerous situations—please.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to say no, even when you’ve promised yourself you’d say yes. This step isn’t about forcing yourself into situations you hate, but about finding a balance of respecting your own boundaries while taking baby steps in the direction you’d like to go in. Breaking up your goals into steps makes everything seem more doable, from finally writing that novel to going on the road trip you dreamed about in high school, so disassemble everything you want to achieve into small tasks you can accomplish, little by little.
9. Chill out
This may seem like the opposite of everything else I’ve just outlined, but it has to be said. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Someone close to me once said that life is like an outdoor cat, and if you get all controlling and start trying to force it into places it doesn’t want to go and being weirdly aggressive about it, it will scratch you in the face and leave you bleeding and alone. The strangeness of that statement aside, one thing I do know is that stressing out over something is a really simple way to suck all the fun out of it. Implement all the changes you want, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Unless you’re Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, tomorrow will always be a new day and with it will come another chance to have a really good time.
Sharon Lynn Pruitt is a writer and recovering Netflix addict currently living in the Midwest. You can find her blogging about her geek girl world here or complaining about life in a flyover state @SharonLynnSays.