Grind Now, Play Later: Maximizing Your Summer

By Tony Driftin

On May 11th, 2017 I had no idea how I was going to spend my summer. Sophomore year of college had been rough to me. My grades slipped, money continued to look more and more like a problem, and I had no idea where I would be living this upcoming semester(stay tuned on that one). The worst part of it all was that I was going back to Milwaukee for the second summer in a row with very little to occupy my time.

I had a few opportunities. I was preparing to lead my second mission trip to the Dominican Republic in June, my professor offered me a chance to work on his film crew back in DC for a weekend, and my new girlfriend was in Buffalo.

In front of me were three chances to visit three very different places and escape the dread of a summer at home. I didn’t have a job yet, but at least there was a chance that I wouldn’t be stuck in Milwaukee all summer. And if nothing else, I had a family reunion in July, so there was at least some guaranteed fun during the summer.

Life is funny though.

I did go to the DR and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. However, two weeks later my girlfriend and I broke up, and to make matters worse I realized that a weekend visit to DC was not an option financially (even though putting filmmaker on my resume would’ve been hella dope). The only thing left was my job (a security job that I’m still lukewarm about) and my family reunion (which I missed a lot of due to my lukewarm security job).

However instead of shutting down for the summer, I decided to do something different: Try to focus on myself and maximize my summer. The results have been mostly good and that’s why I want to share some of my insights. And even though summer may be halfway over you can still maximize the time you have left! So, here are some of my suggestions to do that.

1. Work Hard So You Can Play Harder

So you know that lukewarm security job? It takes up a lot of time. I’m often getting off when people in Milwaukee are winding down or I’m working while most normal people are asleep (I have work from 11 pm - 7 am tonight as I write this). Also, security isn’t always the most exciting or pleasant job. But make no mistakes, it PAYS. I get enough money to do to the things I want, buy the things I want, and save a good amount for next year. It’s not always fun, or easy, but it’s a job. I’ll leave the details of my work and pay to my bank account, but putting in all those man hours enables me to carry out my next suggestion:

2. Invest In Yourself

If you know me, you know I love music. This blog, my latest SoundClound single (look for my Driftin’ EP, this fall), our entire media collective, was born from that initial passion to create music. So you know what I did? I bought my own starter home recording studio with money I saved from both my job and those flights I didn’t end up taking (lost dreams and broken hearts aren’t the worst thing after all).

But investing in yourself isn’t just buying the things you like (or love). It can also be learning a new language (Spanish), improving on an instrument (Guitar), opening a savings account (Barclay’s is pretty cool I’m just saying), or walking over to a NBA practice facility and networking with a basketball executive (sent my resumé in and everything). Regardless of your investment: Make sure it makes sense, make sure you keep at it, and make sure you ask those you trust for help with maintaining your investments.

3. Solidify Plans For The Future.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not one to freak out over future plans. The future and all its possibilities excite me. Even still, thinking about everything that may be can still exhaust me. So why not write down and solidify plans? In fact action speaks louder than words, so I’ll give you a sample:

Anthony’s Top Secret Plans for the Future:

  1. Write, record and release new music this fall
  2. Finish finding a place to live for next school year by June (by that I really mean July/August.)
  3. Finally get my driver’s license. (I went to a boarding school and don’t have a reason to drive in DC, but I feel like it’s a rite of passage.)
  4. Solidify money making opportunities for next year.
  5. Finally register for classes.
  6. Start planning for DR/Bolivia Mission Trip 2018
  7. Officially start Barbershop Talk in the fall.
  8. Create and begin to execute a plan of action for my e-boards next year.
  9. Create and follow a budget for next semester.

Halfway through the summer I’ve gotten the ball rolling on most if not all these things. Of course there are more plans, more ideas, and more work to be done, but for now I have a clear idea on what needs to be done for next semester and that’s a great place to be.

4. Smooth Out Rough Edges.

Alright major confession, I haven’t hit the gym at all this summer. But while working out isn’t my go-to self improvement strategy, I did set other self improvement goals while I was in a relationship. At the time, I decided that in order to be a better boyfriend I needed to work on my consistency and organization . But even in the aftermath of our break up I realize that consistency and better organizational skills are traits that I should continue to develop. Washing the dishes, cleaning my room weekly, ironing my “security clothes” a few hours before my shift instead of 20 minutes before I have to leave are all little things I do on a day-to-day basis to improve my consistency. Even being patient when assisting my grandma, is a way I can be more consistent in my care for her.

But smoothing out those rough edges isn’t just doing chores or being more understanding with elderly folks. Going for that run (I know, hypocritical), working on assertiveness, working out anger issues, they’re all a part of becoming the best possible you. So find the things you like least about yourself and work on them if you can.

5. Finally HAVE FUN

This summer has not been my most fun. I’ve been stuck in the house, I don’t have a lot of good friends at home (my best friend doesn’t even live in Milwaukee), and family obligations have at times handcuffed me. It’s the only way that I haven’t truly maximized my summer. But summer is a great time full of concerts, memories and great people. In Milwaukee we have plenty of festivals, Summerfest being the biggest and the best. There are lakes, baseball games, restaurants, Tinder, and Uber to get you there if you don’t drive.

If you don’t have a lot of friends put yourself out there. Go see a movie, party a little bit, go to the beach (if you have one, and yes, Milwaukee has one), go on a trip with someone. Do something, anything that makes you happy. Unless you’re becoming a teacher, or plan on staying in college forever, these are the last times you’ll have completely free over the summer. Use it the way you want to. That’s what I’m trying to do. For some it could be a lost summer, but for me it’s the time that I look at myself and see how I can continue to grind, grow, and gain. 💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾

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