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Learn Something New This Summer

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At the Handel Group, we believe it's important to design all areas of your life. Now, some areas get extra attention like love, career, body, and family. While others get no love at all. At the top of the neglected list is LEARNING.

Learning is important in life but most of us consider it a chore that we're forced to do. You start a new job and you've got to learn a new computer program. Or you want to save money so you learn how to fix the car or install those dimmers your partner has been wanting. But, how many of us go out and make a conscious effort to learn something new for no particular reason? Not many of us, right? Why not? I'll list the excuses for you. You're too busy. You don't have time. Your job. The kids. Your partner. I could go on and on. Isn't there something you've been wanting to learn or try for a long time but you haven't done it because of some random excuse? Well, me too.

A few weeks ago, I was at a dinner party with friends and family. Whenever we have a dinner party, we come up with a fun, engaging topic of conversation to have during the meal. For example, one night everyone shared their favorite and worst vacations. Another evening, we shared about a profound moment that changed our lives. Having conversations like these is a great way to spend an evening. It really connects you with your friends and family, while also learning something new about the people in your life.

Well, during the dinner conversation a few weeks ago we discussed the following question: "If you had six weeks to learn anything, what would it be? And you would do it everyday for eight hours a day." The answers varied: horseback riding, playing guitar, taking a course in cultural anthropology, singing, golf, and mastering a different language. My answer? Painting. I've always loved painting, but only do it once in a while with my kids at the kitchen table. This got me thinking. It's time to really learn how to paint this summer.

The following week, I purchased painting supplies including brushes, acrylic paints, and several canvases. I was excited, although I was aware that I would have to figure it out. I am married with three kids and run a company. Considering all of this, I needed to design my schedule for painting. Also, I realized I was probably gonna suck at painting and who wants to do something they are bad at? Not me. That's when I coached myself to see that it's healthy to have a good relationship with being bad at something. And I wasn't going to be bad for long. I'd probably get better over time and I have a whole life to work at it.

So, I committed to spending every Saturday morning this summer painting at my artist friend Linda Colletta's studio. I've been doing it for weeks now and love it. It's relaxing and I bring the kids and they paint too. I'm working on a gigantic canvas and my goal is to have it done by the end of the summer so it can hang on the wall of my new office.

If we hadn't done that dinner conversation, I never would have started painting this summer and I never would have realized how happy it made me. Add some flavor to your life by learning something new during this last month of summer. I promise, it'll be worth it.

Steps to Learning Something New

1) Brainstorm.
Write down all the activities, skills or abilities you wished you had time to do or you've always wanted to do but haven't. Rate them in order of importance.

2) Choose your activity.
Really look at your list and decide what you want to make happen this summer. What would make you happy and proud. This is supposed to be fun and fulfilling for you. If you feel like it's work, you will resent it.

3) Answer, "why are you not doing it?"
It's something you would love to do and it would make you happy, but for some reason it's last on your priority list. What is holding you back from learning this new skill or doing this activity? Time? Money? Fear? Face why you're not doing it and remember, it's just an excuse.

4) Make a plan.
Find time in your schedule to fit in your new activity every week. Start today. Make promises to do your activity. Implement consequences if you don't do your promises. If you don't enjoy your activity, you are allowed to change it! This is not school. This is about learning how to do something you love.

5) Declare an end result.
What do you want to accomplish by the end of the summer with your new activity or skill? For example, if you are learning how to cook, plan a big Labor Day dinner party with close friends, where you cook the entire meal.

List of potential activities:
Gourmet cooking, speaking a foreign language, guitar, singing, painting, sculpting, photography, making films, writing stories, running, surfing, tennis, biking, golf, swimming, learning yoga, scuba diving certification, genecology, take a creative writing course, a wine tasting class, car mechanic, archery, fishing, sailing, juggling, swing dancing, learn to Dj with real records, a drink mixologist, water ski.

The possibilities are endless! Get to it!

Love,
Lauren

P.S. If you really want to turn the learning on for the fall, check out all of our upcoming Design Your Life Weekend dates and join us!

For more by Lauren Zander, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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