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It’s Almost Summer. Are You Having Fun Yet?

May 21, 2012

I once did an exercise for a leadership coach where he asked me to write out a vivid description of my ideal life in the future. It was one of those visioning-things, which is supposed to force you to come to grips with your enormous potential for achieving super-sized goals in life.

I obediently wrote it all down, and upon reading it, my leadership coach simply said, “It all sounds very nice, but where’s the fun in this?”

“Fun?” I replied with a twisted neck. “You didn’t say anything about fun! My future is serious business, man!”

He caught me.

Apparently, I was taking my career far too seriously. I had to go back and rewrite it with a greater emphasis on having fun in life.

“How would you define fun?” I asked before he left. I wanted to make sure that I got it right.

This was not a good sign.

For some reason I had gotten into the bad habit of downplaying the lighter side of life, spending far too much time thinking about all of my responsibilities, my work, and the infinite number of chores and errands that must be done when I get home. If ever I tried to relax a bit, that abusive little voice in my head would tell me what a slacker I am.

You can’t leave work already! It’s only been 10 hours today!

“Don’t even think about taking a nap! Do you honestly think Jack Welsh ever took a nap? Now there was a real leader!”

“Put down that book! You could be working on your next blog post!”

I’m not at all sure where this comes from. Perhaps it’s just the wet towel-snap of the good old Protestant work ethic.  Or possibly it stems from that ill-tempered swim coach I had when I was ten years old:

“I have a cramp, coach! Can I take a breather for a few minutes? Pl- ea-hea-hease?”

“Get back in there and swim it off, you panty-waist!” he would bark back at me from the pool deck. “And give me another 500 yards, right now!”

Or, maybe it’s a backlash of guilt from actually slacking off and avoiding all labor whatsover from the time I was 15 until I was 23.

In any case, I was sitting down with my wife the other day looking at the summer calendar. We were making sure we had all the obligations taken care of, and, other than our sacred one-week family vacation, there wasn’t much recreation to speak of. Watching the entire summer unfolding before me in a scattering of scribbles over three calendar pages, I stopped short and said, “Where’s the fun in this? It’s summer, for goodness sake!”

Unless we take some initiative to plan for some fun activities, the whole summer will go by in a flash. Then I’ll find myself sitting there one day in the Autumn chill wondering where it all went.

So why not engineer a more enjoyable summer? All I need to do is apply that same vigorous work ethic to the prospect of having more fun! I’ll show those staunch-mouthed Protestants.

I did exactly that, and here’s what’s on deck so far: A Radiohead concert for the entire family; a weekend in New York City; A getaway to New England so we can eat at our favorite fried clam restaurant; a cooking class; and lots of forced down time at home to do nothing but read and relax.

I’m already starting to have fun, just thinking about it.

Are you planning to have enough fun this summer?

23 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2012 7:59 am

    Plan the fun – that’s the key.

  2. May 21, 2012 8:33 am

    I must admit having fun has never been on my list. Life has a habit of becoming very serious at the best of times. I go to the gym to chill and get fit, but I soon lose the fun element of running on a treadmill when the pain kicks in! I get on the wii and try to have fun, but I get real serious if I am loosing or dropping of a virtual precipice, I agree with your post. I must and will have fun this summer and enjoy life again.

    • May 22, 2012 5:08 am

      Good for you, Lenny. Life can get too serious, it’s true, but we are meant for more than just work and working out. Have fun. DO IT!

  3. May 21, 2012 10:09 am

    Two jumps in a week I bet you think that’s pretty clever don’t ya boy…
    flyin’ along your motorcycle watchin all the ground beneath you drop
    You kill yourself for recognition…

    Do Do Do Do Do Do Do
    Do Do Do Do Do Do Do

    You will be the one screamin’ out

    • May 22, 2012 5:11 am

      AH – Matthew, you are a Radiohead afficianado like moi? Their music has really grown on me over the last ten years or so and I continue to collect their albums. Something so dark and transcendent about their music. Never seen them in concert, so this will be interesting. The only thing is, I’ll probably be the oldest dude there. 😦

  4. pastordt permalink
    May 21, 2012 11:13 am

    LOVE this so much. Because it’s so, so true. All those nasty voices in our heads that don’t give us room to breathe, to relish life, to drink in the beauty, to learn new things. Good on you for penciling those things into your life – now do them and HAVE FUN.

  5. David @ Red Letter Believers permalink
    May 21, 2012 11:50 am

    I don’t know about blaming the Protestants….but we do have a certain over acheiver status that pervades this country. I wonder my friend, did that die with our generation? Has the generation that followed us changed their priorities? Do they value friends, community and fun more than money?

    • May 22, 2012 5:14 am

      You bring up a very interesting question. There definitely seems to be a break going into the next generation in terms of what they seek/expect out of a career. Purpose and life balance are much more driving factors than money, materialism and status. But only time will tell how that will pan out. I see many young people my daughter’s age (college) who are quite determined in their career paths.

  6. May 21, 2012 2:24 pm

    You got me.

  7. dukeslee permalink
    May 21, 2012 3:56 pm

    Yes! In fact, we got started today, with a picnic and a walk through the woods.

  8. May 21, 2012 6:03 pm

    Wait. You were a slacker from 15 to 23? You mean there’s hope for teenage boys?

    Somehow, I think modern notions of both work and fun could use some serious rehabilitation. And I’m thinking part of the cure might be found in rehabilitating Sabbath practices–ideas about rest and delight and joy.

    But, you know me. I’m all about the fun.

    • May 22, 2012 5:17 am

      Yes, i was only concerned with my social circles at the time of my youth. And having fun, of course. Everything else but school fell by the wayside (the one thing I did do for myself was work hard in school and get good grades. it was the one thing I felt I could actually do well). Until I hit early 20’s and realized that life was going to move on without me… I sobered up and decided to apply myself to figure out a career. So, yes, there is hope!

  9. nancy permalink
    May 21, 2012 9:48 pm

    #1. i think that the doggie and person paw prints are very cute.

    #2. i have one plan, it’s… “ROAD-TRIP” get in the car and go…
    south and east for a long time and then turn around and come back traveling north and west. taking contact numbers along, just in case people want to actually meet-up…seeing sights, taking photos, writing, drawing, reading…all with my youngest daughter. that’s it, the whole plan.

    #3. the way that you planned family time out and about, along with some home time.

    #4. a cooking class…interesting idea.

    Yes, really good leaders can be really good at planning to have fun. ( If they can remember the definition, that is.) And even the planning itself can be fun!

    hummm… this plan-for-fun business, it’s starting to intrigue my little pea brain. forget summer… i wonder…how can i have some fun…say, tomorrow? time for a bit of cunning planning…

    • May 22, 2012 5:20 am

      Wow, I LOVE your road-trip idea! That sounds somehow so liberating, and wild. And spontaneous! How many days/weeks will you be gone? I’ve always had this idea about taking out a map, throwing a blindfolded dart, and then literally packing up and heading out to wherever the dart lands to discover America. It has this feel of daring and freedom to it. Although it might turn out to be very boring in real life….

      • May 22, 2012 10:20 am

        i don’t know how long we’ll be on the road…we have maps, but no darts. though… i will have your contact info. along, just in case i might want to poetry boss you around a bit. one never knows what poetry will do………oh…for land sakes, boy…calm down now, that’s not a threat.

  10. nevillites permalink
    May 22, 2012 9:44 am

    Just getting back from three days of canoe camping in PA with 20 other people. What a great time! Great memories, lots of laughter even some swimming (burr). Yes, summer has begun. Already looking forward to next year’s trip….and relishing the fact that most of summer is still ahead of us this year. Thanks for the post.

  11. May 22, 2012 4:19 pm

    Radiohead, clam chowder, and a cooking class. Sounds pretty interesting to me 🙂
    God has given us so many good gifts all around us – it’s honoring to him to enjoy them appropriately. I’m sure that it brings him pleasure to know that we think clams are pretty darn tasty.

  12. carterarchitecture permalink
    May 23, 2012 1:59 pm

    Your story reminds me of someone I know closely, me. Thanks for writing. We needed that.

  13. May 23, 2012 3:46 pm

    I’m reminded of an old British car commercial. “People who fold their jim-jams aren’t going to like this at all. The Tigra is fun… if you like that sort of thing.”

    Oddly, I have had trouble figuring out what I find to be fun. Everyone tells me what sort of culture I should like. In truth, though, I like science fiction, jogging, watching zombie films and tv shows, having a good glass of wine, building things out of legos, making movies out of the things we build out of legos, making a big mess out of the legos on the floor, and (yes) sorting the legos by color so we can build more science fiction scenarios in which joggers get chased by zombies…

  14. May 24, 2012 3:31 pm

    Oh boy. This one hits home. I really haven’t had much fun lately. I’ve allowed myself to get bogged down with everything — some things within my control, other things not within my control. Everything feels out of whack. I knew I have hit rock bottom when my glass-is-half-full husband told me this morning (in the nicest way possible) that I need to stop being negative. So here goes. I am determined to have fun.

    Just watch me!

  15. May 30, 2012 11:45 am

    Love the post and just shared it on Facebook. I’m going to sit down this afternoon and start planning some fun into my summer!


  1. Schools Out For Summer…3 Ways to Enjoy It! «

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