THE BLOG
06/04/2013 05:14 pm ET Updated Aug 04, 2013

How to Live Your Summer Life All Year Long

Summer is a time for play, but what does your play tell you about the life you'd really like to be living? During the summer, many of us:

• Relax
• Get more athletic
• Get more sensual (Shakespeare didn't write A Midwinter Night's Dream,
after all!)
• Interact more with nature, and
• Dress more casually and comfortably, at work and elsewhere.

We also use our vacations to:

• Travel
• Catch up on family and friend time, and
• Make progress on an important goal (book, thesis, art, volunteerism, etc.)

Why wait for summer to do all this? Or, asked another way: Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live more actively and authentically the rest of the year?

Of course there are barriers: notably, for many people, work (or school) and family responsibilities. But think about how big a role habit and convention may be playing in your situation:

• If you haven't taken a vacation in years (an American disease, it seems), find and learn from others who have.
• If you have been taking a vacation or other time off, find mentors who can help you extend and improve that experience.
• If you feel trapped by circumstances into living a life you don't particularly want, find and learn from others who share your values and have learned to live more authentically.

Here's an article about finding and working with such mentors.

And here is an inspiring article by Janelle Nanos in Boston Magazine about ordinary people who are freeing themselves -- and the planet -- by living nonconventional, nonconsumerist lives:

After defining ourselves for generations by our possession -- cars, houses, books, music -- a dramatic cultural shift is under way. In the wake of a collapsed economy and a warming planet, what matters to a growing number of Americans is not so much ownership as access.

Nanos heralds this as: "A powerful new force in modern life: the sharing economy."
And here's Leo Babauta's classic Simple Living Manifesto, from Zenhabits.net.

A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what's important to you. It means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.

(If you've got a favorite resource about living more simply and/or happily, please share it in the comments.)

Achieving Authenticity

To live more authentically, organize your life around that goal. That's a time management endeavor, and, like many such, can be challenging. You might, for instance:

• Make changes in your personal lifestyle and habits
• Request your family and friends make changes
• Ask your boss for additional time off or to switch to part-time work. (If your boss is wholly unsupportive, you may need to switch jobs.)
• Give up commitments you or others value, but that are not central to your goals or mission. Or even,
• Move.

However, authenticity is worth all of these sacrifices. Do you really want to spend all year waiting for the two or three weeks you can finally live your authentic life? And do that year after year, for the entire brief span you're on earth?

Also remember that living inauthentically (which often means living in denial) is exhausting! It takes huge time and energy. It also hurts; and sometimes, and perhaps more often than we realize, it kills, through depression, anxiety, addiction, or grief.

Many times we're constrained from moving forward because we're not sure how others will react. It's worth noting that nearly everyone I encounter who has shared his or her dream with others got a lot more support and cooperation than anticipated. It's a huge gift to share your dream because it helps the person you're sharing with reconnect with her own dreams. And it's a very common mistake to underestimate the willingness of those around us to help.

Remember that even though authenticity is a crucial goal, you should never get perfectionist about it! Most progress is made in baby steps, and if you treat yourself with harsh severity, or relentlessly judge and deprecate your progress, you come close to defeating the whole point!

The first steps to freeing yourself are: (a) visualizing that freedom, (b) planning for it, and (c) clearing abundant time for achieving it. Summer provides an excellent opportunity for getting started on all three -- and although that might sound like "work," I guarantee that, in the process of doing it, you'll also have a great time.

For more by Hillary Rettig, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

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