We all have dreams that fall to the side when life and family responsibilities take over. Ellen Goldhar, a life coach in Toronto, says a large part about making your desires a reality is about getting organized and clear in your head about what you want to do. She recommends writing a list of desires and then marking each one with a small or capital N. "Small n is for nice to have or do and capital N is for need to have or do," she says. Would something be nice to do -- pleasant -- or do you need to do it -- essential?
Prioritize how to spend your free time
Although the nice items are easier to push back, making time for these and yourself is also a priority. Instead of talking about how nice it would be to spend a weekend in a wine region with your sister, book a time that works for both of you and stick to it.
Ideally, you will be able to combine some of the items on your list. If Item No. 3 is riding a bicycle-for-two with your husband and Item No. 6 is revisiting your childhood stomping ground in New Brunswick, rent the bike and relive childhood memories while pedalling along the coast of Grand Manan, N.B.
Tip: Be careful not to get caught up in getting things done simply for the sake of crossing them off your list. Take the time to enjoy the moment.
Learn more about achieving your goals in this related read:
• Personal Project Pursuit: Goals, Action, and Human Flourishing (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006) by Brian R. Little, Katariina Salmela-Aro and Susan D. Phillips, editors.
Page 1 of 3 -- Fulfillment doesn't have to cost you money! Browse a collection of free summer activities and simple pleasures on page 2.
It's fun – and it's free!
Looking to ï¬�ll up on fun without emptying your pockets? Here are some ideas.
• Festivals abound in the summer, whether it's a music festival with free concerts in a busy downtown core, Shakespeare in the Park at sunset or an art festival showcasing local works in a farmer's ï¬�eld. Just meandering through the crowds and people-watching can often be entertainment enough.
• Whether vacationing abroad or in your own backyard, explore surrounding neighbourhoods, parks or beaches that you've never ventured to before.
• Television shows are always looking for people to ï¬�ll their studio audiences, so keep your eyes peeled for anything ï¬�lmed in your area. The best place to check for audience requests is a show's website, such as www.cbc.ca/toronto/community.
• Don't underestimate a library, which often hosts free community events, seminars and storytimes as well as posting local guides. Universities and colleges open their doors to the public with similar events.
• Many museums and art galleries wave the entrance fee on speciï¬�c days and times. Admission to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, for example, is free one hour before closing.
• Check out rural farmer's markets and ï¬‚ea markets; even if you don't spend money you'll have fun poking around for hidden treasures.
• Most maps will point you toward the nearest hiking trails. Pack a picnic lunch and head for the hills.
• Canada boasts more than 31,000 lakes. Pick one and make a day of relaxing by the water and reconnecting with nature.
• When in doubt, visit the local and provincial tourism ofï¬�ces. The staff will be able to recommend free activities in the area.
Summer is ï¬�lled with simple pleasures just waiting to be enjoyed. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
• Grab a basket and start picking on the ï¬�rst day of strawberry season.
• Commission your parents to teach their grandkids the foxtrot.
• Escape to a conservation park with a baguette-and-Brie picnic.
• Run through a sprinkler with your clothes on.
• Open an umbrella for two and stroll in the rain while holding hands.
• Leave your suit jacket behind and eat lunch outside at a picnic table.
• Nap in the shade and concentrate on nothing but the gentle breeze.
• Take a late-night swim, clothing optional.
• Discover summer's bounty at a local farmer's market.
• Make a batch of ice cream from scratch.
Page 2 of 3 -- On page 3, find fun summer projects the whole family will enjoy!
This summer have everyone in the family look around the house for a possible family project. Have you always wanted to build a birdhouse? What would add that extra special element to the kids' playroom? Have your children ever pleaded for a playhouse, skateboard ramp or picnic table? As a family, you can use vacation time to have fun and complete a family project.
1. Choose a project. Such as ï¬�xing up Dad's clunky ï¬�rst car that has been rusting in the driveway or compiling a family photo album for each member.
2. Work out a budget together. Consider supplies and time.
3. Set speciï¬�c deadlines. So your project will be ï¬�nished by September. This is a chance for everyone to learn something new, so assign special jobs.
4. Learn the basics. If you want to add a playhouse, new deck or vegetable garden to your yard, hardware stores such as Home Depot often have seminars to help you get started. Your neighbours might have some skills to swap, too, so ask around if you prefer a private lesson. Whether you choose to take up photography together, learn Spanish as a family or build a computer part-by-part, your kids will go back to school with new skills and fond memories.
Tip: Helping with local charities is another great way to spend time together. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or collect donations for a women's shelter or children's clothing drive. Start by cleaning out closets and making a family inventory of things you want to donate – your kids will ï¬�nally clean their rooms this way!
Learn more with these additional resources:
• Fun Projects for You and Your Kids, New and Revised (The Lyons, September 2007) by David Stiles
• Treehouses and Playhouses You Can Build (Gibbs Smith, 2006) by David and Jeanie Stiles
• Down and Dirty!: 42 Fun and Funky First-Time Projects and Activities to Get You Gardening (Storey, 2006) by Ellen Zachos
• The Get Outside Fun and Learn Project and Nature Book (Southwater, 2006) by Clare Bradley
This article was originally titled "Ultimate Summer Planning Guide" in the June 2007 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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