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How To Use Your Summer to Produce Beauty

A Re-Post of this summer’s most popular post.

It’s not too late to get the most out of your summer.


Most people will have more leisure time during the next 10-12 weeks than they will all year – summer break, family vacations, and a tad slower schedule. Without the responsibility of waking  and dressing my daughters every day, I get an extra hour 5 days a week. You probably have some extra hours coming to you as well.

Why not use your summer to produce something beautiful?

Nearly everyone in my family spent extended time in school or teaching school. Each year they were gifted with summer break. My dad spent hours in the local library during his summer – reading, writing, studying, and making sure my brother, Richard, and I did the same in the children’s literature section. On Tuesdays we skipped the pool, bowling alley, and bike rides spending the day, instead, in the library. Everyday, right after lunch, my family sat down in the living room and had one-hour of reading time before we returned to playing and riding our bikes.

By leveraging his summer, my dad got a Master’s, Specialist’s, and a Ph. D.

Leverage the Summer To Create The Life You Want

What are you going to do this summer? Sitting on the beach, lounging in front of the TV, and grilling in the back yard are great activities, especially if you’re a school teacher who’s gone 90-to-nothing all year. Just don’t stop there. Why not capitalize on your free time and have something to show for the gift of free hours?

Read Like Crazy

Regardless of your field or career, the people at the top are readers. There’s a little secret about business, church, and leadership: Your boss is your boss because s/he reads more than you. Leaders are readers, as the saying goes.  And they read a lot. In 12 weeks, you can easily read 12 books. Commit to reading 50 pages a day. 50 pages is not much (most non-fiction books are around 200-250 pages). On a 2-week vacation you can knock out a few non-fiction books!

Friday I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook friends for book suggestions. The list is incredible! Because my friends read different genres, I now know which books are the best in multiple categories. At the end of the summer I should be significantly more knowledgable and interesting than I am today. What’s more, my writing, preaching, and creativity flow from my reading. Guess what? So do yours.

Produce Something Wonderful

Have you every wanted to write? Are you a photographer? Painter? Poet? William Paul Young’s, The Shack, was written for his family and became an international phenomenon. You don’t have to have impressive results to produce beauty. Don’t worry about money, fame, or acclaim. Just produce. You can write 500 words a day for the next 12 weeks (This blog post is 698 words). At the end of the summer you’ll have a 42,000 word book. Wow! Now, you’re an author.

Grab your DSLR, decide to take a picture of every church, fountain or old bridge within 75 miles. Spend a few days with your favorite photo-editing software, send it off to a printer. You just created a photo book. Now, you’re a photographer.

No one ever has to buy your creations! You’re doing it to create!

Pick-Up What You Dropped-Off

Rekindle your joys. Do you remember playing the piano? The cello? The guitar? Remember when you sang? Whatever it was, do that again! Call a few friends, invite them to dinner on September 7, and tell them your having a “Living Room Session.” Spend your summer learning to play 3-5 pieces to perform for your guests. How fun would that be?

Don’t Be “That Guy.”

You don’t want to be the guy (or girl) who has the boring answer when asked “What did you do this summer?” Resting your bottom on the couch watching reruns of “Law & Order” is – to be frank – LAME.

Once you had dreams and ambitions. You may have given up on them or perhaps they stalled out. They don’t have stay stalled. Whether you have the full summer off, like people in academia, or just a few weeks, you’re summer can create something amazing! It should bring you life!

What are you planning this summer? Share your dreams in the comments below.



  • BTW, I’m spending my summer refocusing this blog, doing some other writing in order to produce a “manifesto”, speaking at various churches, camps, and weddings, and reminding myself and my kids how wonderful the swimming pool is.

  • Denise

    Thanks, Sean! As an elementary school secretary, I don’t want to come to August and wonder what happened to the gift of my precious weeks off. Your post encourages me to read lots and pick that violin back up!

    • Awesome, Denise. I’d love to know how it turns out and what you create!

  • Like you, I have started to focus more on my blog. I’m working on some behind the scenes stuff, and will start posting regularly on July 1.

    I’m also helping a new non-profit coffee shop in Denver build their online presence, I’m reading more, remodeling my house to sell, doing some volunteer work, and also doing some technology consulting. And I’ve taken two trips with my wife and some friends already with another one planned.

  • jesse

    I’m going to read like crazy, learn some new songs on the guitar, and maybe try my hand at a little writing. Those were all excellent suggestions, Sean.

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