Updated: Mar 16
It's quarantine craziness. Schools are closed!
You along with all my other students are celebrating their extra week or two of Spring Break...until you won't.
If you don't have a plan, eventually boredom will kick in. And that's when the days will feel longer and your nights will be spent down a rabbit hole on the internet. You might start to feel like a zombie...like your days have no meaning to them. And maybe you get to a scary point where you wish the days would just go by; that you could fast forward time.
How do you combat this feeling? It takes a lot of practice, and now is the perfect time to start. I've compiled a list of suggestions. But here's the best part: these activities will also give you #skills. Skills that will make you useful in life. Skills that are proven to bring long-term happiness.
Check back periodically. I'll update this list through April 10!
1. Develop your own website #ownership
You are interesting, curious, imaginative, and creative. I know this because if you're reading this, you're my student. And I know you. You are these things.
But the rest of the world doesn't know this about you. You probably have interesting thoughts that even your own family doesn't know about.
Now's the time to change that. Make a website!
Showcase your art projects or your short stories. Blog about your sport, what drills do you like and why, what do you do before big games, and how do you mentally prepare the night before. There is no wrong way to get started.
Added bonus: When you apply to college, your website will speak volumes compared to a resume. But don't let that be the goal, at least for now. Just have fun with it. Make it cool. Share it with me or your mom or your siblings and friends. Make it your own.
2. Plan your next family vacation #project-management
Most of us have already reconsidered our summer plans. Let's assume those plans are scrapped. So get proactive about your next family trip.
First, find out your family's budget. Then, begin the questions. Where are we going and why? For family? For food? For friends? For culture? For history? For peace and quiet? Should we fly Delta or Spirit or Norwegian? Should we get travel insurance? Or, are we driving in mom's car or dad's? How long is the drive and what's our gas mileage? Are you bringing your own snorkels and board games? Should we bring an extra bag for souvenirs? Do we have enough time to do all the things we want to do: museums? cultural events? nature outings? And, how will we document the trip so that we can look back on these memories? Make sure this all fits into your budget and time frame!
Think through the entire puzzle and ask for input. Project management is an important skill in the real world (and college). Some people in Silicon Valley get paid well as "project managers." Get your practice in now!
Plus, your next vacation will be so much better because it was planned by you and your whole family.
3. Master a hobby #grit
The legends of sports, television, movies, science, and music have one thing in common. They worked towards mastery from a young age. Think Kobe Bryant, Taylor Swift, YoYo Ma, and Isaac Newton. Maybe you won't become a legend during your extended spring break, but you can develop the grit and perseverance that you need to become great.
What hobby should you take up? Literally anything. There is no wrong answer. If you're a tennis player, work on your serve in the street or in your back yard. If you're a basketball player, work on increasing your vert. If you're an artist, make 40 or 400(!) sketches. Alternatively, take up a new hobby. Even simple things like jump rope, juggling, water glass music, and papier-mache become impressive with practice.
Get started. You could reasonably dedicate 100 hours of your time to a hobby over the next 4 weeks, and get good at it!
4. Figure out what you care about #prioritize
The minute you leave high school you will finally be asked: What do you want to learn? What do you care about? What do you want to do with your time? And it will feel overwhelming. You'll probably change your major 3 or more times. You'll probably change careers once or twice or more. And you might not develop a serious hobby until you're old and gray!
But there is no reason to wait until after high school to think about these questions.
In fact, don't wait. Start considering them now. Because if you know where your internal compass points you, your hardest decisions in life will become a lot easier (even things like who to date and when it's time to break up or be serious).
Your internal compass needs a True North, not a relative direction. Figure out what you care about.
5. Ask your parents questions #initiative
This sounds so corny, but do it. You won't regret it. If you develop this skill (to start a meaningful conversation), you will be a magnet for good people. Your parents are the perfect people to practice with.
You have not had this much free time around your parents in a long time. Use this chance to have deeper conversations with them. Ask them about their interests, their fears, their worries, their friends, their heroes, their idols. Ask them what they learned since becoming a parent. Ask them to tell you stories about other times in their life when the (inter)national experience was so singular, like 9-11 or when the Berlin Wall fell. Ask them stories behind your family heirlooms. Ask them to tell you about their favorite teacher when they were in school. Ask them what their goals were in college versus when they were in their 20s. Ask them about a time they've changed their mind. Ask them who taught them how to drive a car. Ask them who they admire. Ask them what character traits they wish they could change in themselves — ask them why it's so hard to change.
Ask them anything you're curious about.
 A ton of research has been done on happiness. It turns out two simple things contribute immensely to your happiness: (1) feeling in control of your life and (2) taking responsibility for your own actions. The activities listed here let you do just that.