There’s a reason we have the phrase “sweet summertime.” Summer is sweet. Whether you’re enjoying gelato on a hot street corner or sipping a watermelon martini with friends, sweet is the perfect word to describe how I feel amid the dog days of summer.
When summer ends, and it always ends, I start to feel not so sweet. I feel a little blue. I’m not ready for the chill breezes of fall and winter instead of the warm sun on my skin. Or to put away my espadrilles for eight long months. I’m not ready to see the watermelon drinks replaced by “pumpkin this'' and “apple spice that.”
To use the words of the incomparable Lana Del Rey, I’ve got that summertime sadness.
I know every season comes to a close, even one as wonderful as summer. But its departure always leaves me wondering how this time of year went by so quickly.
Summer on tour
Prior to the pandemic, travel was a way of life for me. Months would go by when I would only spend a handful of days at home. Of course, that ended abruptly in March 2020. Then, this past summer, my time on the road increased significantly.
Travel has always been a part of my job, and since I love what I do, I never questioned how much my professional excursions were affecting my life. As I stare down the inevitability of autumn, I can’t help but wonder if my near-constant work trips were what made this summer feel so short.
I never imagined doing work differently, but after this busy summer, I’ve been wondering if traveling less for work would help me savor more. Because if I’m being honest, working without any breaks prevented me from truly relishing the fleeting summer season.
A new beginning
When one season ends, the next one begins. As summer slides into fall, I’ve been reevaluating my work schedule and how it impacts my life. Summer is by far my favorite time, and I know I didn’t get enough of its relaxation and restoration this year.
I enjoy my work tremendously, so admitting that an aspect of it potentially prevents me from fully enjoying what I love is hard for me. Considering whether I could approach my work differently is downright difficult. My professional life fulfills me, so why question it? Because I can’t stop wondering, “could I build an even better life?”
I can imagine a world where I don’t travel as much in the summer, one where I intentionally allow myself to enjoy the pleasures of the season, among other things. I want my work to be a meaningful part of my life—I don’t want it to direct my life.
That doesn’t mean giving up travel (which I’ll never do). But it does mean scrutinizing my summertime on the road a little closer. It means I’ll think more strategically about what trips I take, to where, and for how long. These are all things I can control, right?
Choosing your path
So often, we assume our circumstances are immutable, just because that’s the way they’ve always been. In reality, you have more control over your life and the schedule you keep than you might realize.
You have the power to choose a different path. Making the decision and starting the process is what’s difficult. You do have a choice, though. Certainly, everyone has different circumstances, and not everyone has the same flexibility in their personal and professional life. Even with very little flexibility, you can make time to pursue a hobby or take a mindful walk over lunch. You can decide if you want to sleepwalk through the world or wake up and actively take part.
I look around and see far too many people living as spectators in their own life. As summer comes to a close, I hope you recognize that you can direct your life. You can end this year differently than you started out. All you have to do is choose.
Throughout this year, I’ve written about the importance of self-reflection and finding your purpose. I’ve also discussed the dangers of burnout and the benefits of self-care. Reflecting on your life to find your purpose while prioritizing self-care and avoiding burnout is no easy task, but the payoff is invaluable.
Take the time to appreciate your favorite season. Don’t let life be something that merely happens to you. Enjoy what you love by consciously deciding how you want to live. You can choose to live life more fully if you recognize that your life is worth living well, just as summer is worth savoring.