Eight to nine months out of the year, we’re mostly just daydreaming about summer. Sure, we get our work done! But from time to time, we slip off to some magically warm place where meetings and classes and to-do lists don’t exist.
Still, June inevitably rolls arounds more quickly than we expected, and before we know it, our calendars fill up with auto-pilot activities, just like they do the rest of the year: We have to go to summer school classes every day, or drop off the kids at camp, or pick up the kids from camp to take them to swim practice, or spend time planning our work commutes so we avoid terrible beach traffic.
Instead of spending the summer playing badminton, or lying in a hammock sipping lemonade out of a trendy, striped paper straw, or doing whatever everyone else on Instagram seems to be doing, our everyday obligations fill up our weeks. Suddenly it’s Labor Day, and it feels like summer never even really got started.
OR! Sometimes we do end up with a ton of free time on our hands — and it totally backfires. “It’s too hot to do anything truly productive,” we whine before we plop down in front of the fan and melt into useless puddles.
But remember fall? Remember winter?! Remember when you were all bundled up and couldn’t get warm or move or think? Don’t forget…that’s coming. So before autumn whooshes to your doorstep, now’s a good time to start thinking intentionally about how you can spend all the free time you manage to carve out for yourself for the rest of summer!
An intro to the Roadmap
Here at Roadtrip Nation, we have this handy tool called the Roadmap that helps people explore how combining their interests can lead to cool career paths. But it also works for helping you make good use of your free time, in any season!
Here’s how it works: You pick a foundation — an essential ingredient to how you wanna live your life, an action phrase that drives you, like “being creative” or “helping people” — and two of your interests, like action sports, entrepreneurship, or fashion. Then, based on what you’ve chosen, we’ll match you up with the stories of Roadtrip Nation leaders who combined those elements into meaningful careers.
For example: Being physically active + action sports + science = Kevin Wallis, lead forecaster at Surfline
Kevin Wallis took his summer love (surfing), combined it with his interest in science (he got a degree in meteorology!), and ultimately ended up pursuing his summer interests to the point that they became his livelihood. Now he’s forecasting the weather and waves all over the globe for Surfline.
But you don’t have to take your interests that far this summer if you don’t want to! There are ways to explore your interests — and the things they could lead to — that feel way more relaxed, but work just as well.
Introducing: the *summer* Roadmap
Here’s how the Roadmap works when your brain is melting (hi, our brains are melting!) — a remixed (and very unofficial) version of our Roadmap tool that we’re casually calling the summer Roadmap. (Original name, we know.)
Your foundation might be what you’d normally pick, or it may change based on what you want your life to look like for the next few months. Maybe it’s still “being creative” or “working with others,” or maybe it’s simply “staying cool.”
Next, you should think about what sounds interesting to you right now. Or even better, think about the things you have lying around, the things you haven’t gotten to yet this summer, the things that keep slipping through the cracks. These things could be as disparate as learning a new language or seeing the newest blockbuster.
Finally, mix in a little summer-specific inspiration. You’re into art? You’ve wanted to take up painting? Maybe making watercolors using ocean water sounds cool! You’ve been meaning to learn how to cook? Dreaming up new popsicle flavors could be…pretty sweet.
Here are some more fun examples of super easy summer Roadmap activities to get you through the rest of summer:
- Giving back to the community + wanting to pet all the dogs in sight + desperately trying to stay cool = Volunteering as a dogwasher at the local animal shelter
- Being creative + engineering + food = Inventing a new gadget that protects your arms from onslaughts of melting ice cream
- Trying something new + travel + kitsch = Taking a mini-road trip to a neighboring town and visiting their biggest tourist attraction
- Learning and challenging yourself + taking risks + that hammock that’s been gathering dust in your garage = Buying a book you normally wouldn’t have chosen & reading it in the sun
- Socializing + sunsets + market lights = Hosting a movie night on the lawn
- Being physically active + being on/near the ocean = Trying out stand-up paddleboarding
- Resting + film + travel = Binge-watching “Roadtrip Nation” (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
We know those are all silly suggestions, but the point is to show you that you don’t need to overthink this — you just need to take a breath, take stock of how you feel, and let summer be guided by your interests, not dominated by the to-do lists on the fridge.
So I’m exploring potential career paths even when I’m…paddleboarding?
Eischen struggled to pursue his interests in action sports after an accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. But one day, while out on the harbor, he saw someone using a paddleboard that had been modified to accommodate a wheelchair — and within hours, he, too, was cruising around the harbor.
Today, his nonprofit, Pushing 4 Independence, provides modified paddleboards and surfboards to the disability community, connecting people with the tools they need to pursue their own love of outdoor sports. So the answer to your question is: YES, of course you can explore career paths from atop a paddleboard!
Career exploration doesn’t have to mean taking an intensive quiz or networking until your faux-chipper “grown-up” voice becomes a permanent part of your identity. We’re into a much more expansive view of career exploration — we think that if you’re following your interests and doing things you like, amazing career pathways will start opening themselves up to you.
That seems like a much more relaxed approach to exploring careers, but in reality, it should keep you on high alert! There are things you’re going to do or encounter during the summer that you might not in other seasons, things that will grab your interest and get your heart rate up. Don’t write those things off as silly summer flings.
If you love doing something this summer, don’t ignore that feeling…make it your mission to chase it all year round.
Do you have an example of a summertime activity you’ve done (or are currently doing!) that, however small, felt successful in helping you learn more about who you are or where you wanna go in life?