Pick One

The beginning of summer is filled with seemingly limitless possibilities. There is an abundance of time to accomplish everything on our to do lists. We will visit friends, catch summer blockbusters, and do absolutely nothing, if we wish. No matter what anyone says, you deserve a few days of unstructured time to do whatever you feel called to do — even if that means spending the whole day on your couch watching an entire season of your favorite show.

Unfortunately, summer does not last forever, and we get caught at the beginning of the school year overwhelmed with the myriad of items we didn’t do during our time away from campus.

We were well intentioned, but our intentions did not come together as we wanted.

If you want to feel like you did not waste away your summer, here is an easy suggestion for you. It simply requires you to pick one thing. Pick one to replace, one to give away, and one to read. This philosophy is easy to apply and will close out your summer with a list of accomplishments and feeling ready to tackle the next school year!

Pick One Thing to Replace

On average, it takes about two months for a new behavior to become automatic — perfect timing for a summer break! The easiest way to accomplish this is to replace a less than stellar habit with a better for you habit. Maybe you decide it is time you switch from drinking an energy drink for breakfast to making oats or a parfait instead. If your nightly routine includes multiple hours of screen time, why not try replacing a few nights with a walk? You could also commit to switching one (or more) of the meals you eat out each week with something you cook yourself. Another option could be replacing one of your weekly television shows with a call to a family member or friend you have not spoken to in a while.

Pick One Thing to Give Away

I am a recovering hoarder — not to the extent anyone would put me on TV, but my home contains a 3-inch pile of mail, a shelf with 20 vases when the most I have ever used at one time is three, and more blankets than I am years old. This challenge is to pick one thing to give away. This could be one thing a day — like the pens that don’t work, or the bowl you never use but is still in your cabinet. Or maybe it is a collection of possessions you have been hanging on to like clothes you never wear or old textbooks collecting dust.

Pick One Thing to Read

I am certain there are some super ambitious people who spend a lot of their time reading for fun. This was not always me. I recently made it a point to read one book a month. Not only can you answer the interview question about the last book you read, you may find things you never knew interested you! If one book a month is too much, pick one book to read over the course of summer. Your local library has an entire staff dedicated to making sure you like what you are reading, so see what new releases are in or what they suggest based on your hobbies. Or, your idol has probably listed their favorite book in an interview — they quite possibly wrote one!

Laura Backer is a proud fraternity/sorority alum and volunteer who created and facilitated leadership development training opportunities for thousands of college student programs across the country. She is the Associate Director of Student Engagement at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO overseeing fraternity/sorority life and leadership programs. She is currently completing a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Laura’s passions surround educational access and social justice initiatives in educational institutions and workplaces. In her free time, she enjoys taking ballet and tap classes, hanging out at local coffee shops, and spending time with her adorable pug Molli.


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