When I was a child in grade school, I used to love summers. I got to participate in summer camps, hang out with friends, and do my summer reading or summer coursework. In general I remember a feeling of “freedom” and “anything is possible.”
I was actually very fond of the annual summer reading list. The library was within walking distance of my house, so I would go there by myself and spend hours at a time reading at the private desks in the back. I liked that it felt like my secret place - somewhere I could go to get out of the heat and to enjoy what most kids hated about summer. More homework. For me though, this was finally an opportunity to read for fun! To explore new books I wouldn’t think to pick up on my own. Although I never enjoyed the report due at the end, I did always enjoy taking notes as I read – mostly because I loved using different kinds of notebooks. (Some things haven’t changed…)
One of the most memorable books for me during summer vacation was called “Absolutely Normal Chaos” by Sharon Creech. The book is written in a journal style about a young girl’s summer vacation where she records the mundane and completely realistic activities and adventures of her summer. My teacher assigned a journaling exercise along with this book. I got to mirror the book (even down to the note of chores my mom would leave in the kitchen each day), journaling my experience - how I felt about the book, how I was processing my summer and my life. I still remember the marble composition notebook I chose, filled with notes and drawings. It was an avenue and a place for my thoughts and creativity. It was a way for me to understand my own experience, and a way for the teacher to understand me as a student when I started in the fall.
Even now as an adult, I try to make an extra effort to read books during the summer that I wouldn’t normally have time to get to. As a small business owner, I find this essential for growth - both for myself and for my business. Here are some ways to make the most of the rest of this summer, and perhaps thinking ahead to your next slow period or break:
Read a business book or two
There are an endless number of options out there: how to be a better leader, marketer, strategist, etc. Take a look at some of my recent favorites below and see if any might be a good choice for you. If you don’t want to read these books on your own, consider joining a book group to discuss the themes of the book you’re reading, and come away from the discussion with concrete takeaways about business or life.
Journal about your business
We often forget to make time for reflection. Although the calendar year may be the natural flow for some, the “school year” may be closer to the work year for others. If you find that summer is a bit slower for you or your industry, use this time to reflect on the year behind and plan out the next 12 months ahead. Schedule in “CEO” time for yourself, and sit in a café or special place with just a notebook, and your thoughts. Consider leaving the laptop and other technology at home for this session. Some questions to consider asking yourself and jotting down:
How have the past 6~12 months been?
How do I see the next 6~12 months progressing?
Am I staying in line with my vision/goals/values?
What skills could I learn to make the rest of this year even better?
What do I want to “level up” in during the next 6~12 months?
Am I on track to reach my annual goals?
If not, what should I be doing differently?
If so, what am I doing well?
Do I have a plan and strategy in place for this fall?
What can I do to plan ahead through the busy season? Vacations/family events/holidays/etc.
Are there any new opportunities ahead I should consider?
Are there any past projects/obligations I should drop?
Is there anything I’m doing that isn’t serving me anymore?
Is there anything I want to challenge myself with?
What might I be able to do to push myself out of my comfort zone?
What could I do next to invest in myself?
What are some of my long-term strategies?
Have any books to recommend or questions to add for a journaling session? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re interested in joining a book club, take a look at the LKC Small Business Book Club and join us for a session.
Happy reading and journaling!
P.S. Need some book ideas for the summer? Here are a couple I’ve read recently and recommend!