Get weekly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

Podcast 224: Design Your Summer (Again), How to Handle the Challenge of Transitions, and Learn a New Fun Term: “Voluntold.”


Updates: Father’s Day is June 16. If a father in your life might enjoy a book for Father’s Day, might I suggest my short, unconventional biography, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill? Judging from the emails I receive in the weeks following Father’s Day each year, I’ve concluded that many people give it as a Father’s Day gift to a person who is fascinated by Winston Churchill—and we should all be fascinated by Churchill! (Side note: I just recorded this audio book for the first time.)

Or if a father in your life is working on an important habit, consider my book Better Than Before, which explains the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits. It turns out that it’s not that hard to break a habit, when you do it in the way that’s right for you.

Book Club reminder: If you want to read along, the next book choice is the memoir Small Fry by Lisa Brennan Jobs. We will discuss it in episode 230, which will air July 17, and she’ll be joining us for a conversation here in the studio.

Try This at Home: Design your summer. We've talked about this idea before, at the beginning of previous summers, in episodes 27, 67, and 118. Figure out what you want from your upcoming season.

I was first inspired by this idea when I read a passage by the writer Robertson Davies in his essay “Three Worlds, Three Summers” in the collection The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies:  

Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year…My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer.

Elizabeth is going to dive into the world of scripted fiction podcasts. She and Sarah want to write their first script over the next few months.

I'm planning my Summer of Proust (an item on my "19 for 2019" list). I want a summer with a lot of reading and silence.

I mention two books: Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life and Andre Aciman's The Proust Project.

Happiness Hack: I find that having a term for something that I’ve vaguely noticed or experienced gives me a huge rush of satisfaction—for instance, with the words "humblebrag" or "schadenfreude." The new word I learned: voluntold. Brilliant!

Four Tendencies Tip: Allison asks: "I am definitely an Obliger. I have been since I was a kid, but the older I get and the further I want to move along in my career. I don't I don't want to be one anymore. So I'm just curious to know if you have any advice for how to change your Tendency."

You can take the free quiz here, to see if you're an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel. More than two million people have taken this free, quick quiz.

You can read the book The Four Tendencies.

You can take The Four Tendencies course.

If you want to create an Accountability Group, you can do it on the Better app.

Listener Question: Cat asks: "I'd love to hear some ideas from listeners about how they trick themselves into better transitions and feel more mindful about how they are moving between tasks and roles in their day."

You can download the Daily Time Log here (scroll down to "Better Than Before"), if you want to track your time. The brilliant time-use expert Laura Vanderkam is a big proponent of time tracking.

Gretchen's Demerit: A classic demerit! I procrastinated about writing an email. As the saying goes, the “Stewing was worse than the doing,” and when I finally put that item on my calendar, I did it, and of course it took about 45 seconds.

Elizabeth's Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to our father, who sent a terrific response when Elizabeth's ABC TV show The Fix was cancelled. When Elizabeth sent our family an update with the disappointing news, she wrote: “Sad but ok. Moving on.” He wrote back, A city of stops…and starts.” Those words really put this moment into context. They're comforting because they're true.


  1. Elizabeth and I had so much fun recording the “Roadmap to Happiness” pledge show for public television. Check your local listings for times. If it's not available in your area, you can watch clips at or request it from your local station. 
  2. Thinking about buying one of my books as a gift for Father’s Day? Get information about all my books, with sample chapters, audio clips , discussion guides, etc. Look here.

Quote From the Podcast

Every man makes his own summer.
Robertson Davies

Thanks to Our Sponsors

More Episodes For You