It’s unavoidable in life that we have ‘on’ seasons and we have ‘off’ seasons. The most glaring example of this is in seasonal sports, but there are traces of the same concept in countless areas of life (between jobs, vacations, holiday seasons, self-appointed periods of rest, summer in Chicago, the list goes on). Of all of the ‘off’ seasons that I’ve survived in life there have been definite, and often unfortunate, trends. Specifically, a whole lot of ‘overs’ and ‘unders’: over-eating, over-spending, over-treat-yo-self-ing, all while under-recovering, under-thinking, under-nourishing, and under-caring about what ‘on’ season might be right around the corner.
Now, I’m not saying that vacations, and summer breaks, and ‘funemployments’ shouldn’t be enjoyed. What I am saying is that it’s possible to not allow an ‘off’ season to derail you completely. It’s possible to maintain the progress that your previous season brought. It’s possible to stay on-track amidst an ‘off’ season. Here are 5 things that can positively impact your pursuit of an on-track off-season:
1. You’ve gotta want it. This is first and foremost. You need to decide for yourself that you want an off-season where you still remain on track. If you decide that you aren't at that point in your life, that's totally OK. Maybe you want to go hog-wild and cut loose and let 'future you' deal with the aftermath. As long as you know where you stand. If you are at that point & decide that an on-track off-season is calling your name – good for you! That’s half the battle – more or less.
2. Don’t lose sight of your goals. Maybe you crushed all of your goals and now you’re in a sort of limbo. Or maybe your short-term goals are hard enough as it is, and your long-term goal seems so far out of reach. No matter the case, in order to make it through this season you are going to have to be clear with yourself about what your next goal is. Where’s the check-point? If you don’t know how long this leg of the journey will be, it can be easy to get lost in it. Make that uncertainty more certain by keeping something, anything, in your sights.
3. Find an accountability partner. This is one of the great things about humans. No matter what we are going through, chances are good that there is someone else who can relate, understand, listen, or help. Find one – you’ve got a whole lot to choose from! Self-accountability works too, but from my experience I’m a lot easier on myself than someone else might be. Community is an amazing product of being in the human race, use it to your advantage. Find a like-minded individual, group, or groups, and create a relationship of accountability.
4. Trouble-shoot. There are countless barriers that impede your attempts at an on-track off-season. BUT if you are ready for them, you’ll have a much better chance at overcoming them. Make a list of anything and everything that could go wrong, followed by how you will react if/when they do. Taking the element of surprise out of the equation boosts your ability to be stronger than the barrier. Knock it down when it crosses your path and keep on moving.
5. Have some fun. Remember that life is all about balance. Celebrate the end of an era, or the fact that you have free time, or that the weather is finally that perfect in-between of no longer cold but not yet too hot. You deserve to eat a cupcake and not regret it. You deserve to spend money on something fun without feeling guilty about how much it costs. The tricky part is drawing that line between what will increase your quality of life, and what might push your ‘off’ season towards derailment. It’s different for everyone. So have some fun, but find your balance.