06/19/2014 07:07 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2014

How Would You Like to Remember This Summer?

Every spring, I start to work on my "How I Want to Remember This Summer" list. Summer is an easygoing time and we're not as structured as we are at other times of the year. But it seems to go by as quickly as winter drags on. Poof! It's over and we wonder where it went and mourn the things we never got to do. That's why it's important to me to imagine in advance how I want to remember the season and make a plan to make it happen.

When you close your eyes, can you imagine yourself on a beach or in a park reading a good novel, at a lively dinner with friends you haven't had time for, finally visiting a friend who's been begging you for ages to make the trip, taking in free park concerts or plays?

You don't have to put a dozen or so dinner dates on the calendar right now, but you can start by jotting down the names of friends you want to spend time with. It doesn't have to be an al fresco restaurant meal every week -- that can get expensive. Instead, you can pack a simple picnic dinner, or pick one up from your favorite takeout, and head to a nearby park.

What's your reading pleasure? Summer reading for me can be either light and breezy novels or those big think tomes I usually don't have the time or extra brain power to take on. By the first day of official summer, books are bought and the electronic reader is loaded.

Summer is also good for planning to take some of your gym time outside. Give up the machines and weights for a bike ride, hike, run. Take your tennis game outdoors. Or, put your active time to good use by training for a charitable walk or run. Call friends soon and coordinate times to romp outside together.

Even if you're lucky enough to take a vacation for a week or two, there's still plenty of time when you're likely to be home. With or without kids, there is plenty of time for your pleasures, especially if you live, like I do, in New York City. Point your compass east, west, north or south -- each offers recreational activities within an hour or two. Trust me, it's easier to make a list of potential day trips beforehand than on a Thursday night when you're on the cusp of an unplanned weekend. Check your state or city's vacation website soon.

Rainy weekends with whiny children, spouses or guests are not memories worth creating. Especially when the kids were younger, I always made sure I had a list of rainy day ideas in mind. Something fun to look forward to is a lot better than everybody complaining about having nothing to do. Be ready to make some good memories instead -- it can be an indoor destination or a day of taking creative pictures in the rain. Homemade dough and pizza, anyone?

Finally, be diligent about reserving some time for yourself. Leave space to let your mind wander, push off the stress that is pressing on you and just relax with no responsibilities. It doesn't have to be a Bed Camp day indoors, though I'm always ready for a rainy-day-in-bed respite from life.

Summer doesn't officially start until this weekend. Take some time and think about how you would like to remember it and make a plan.

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