This year, I’ve been learning a valuable lesson about the power of defining the seasons I am moving through.
At the start of the year, I completed a great digital planner by Alison Hill to map out my year. I’ve already written about choosing my ‘One Word’ for the year through that process. What it also helped me do, though, was map out my own stages, or seasons, for the year. This has been incredibly powerful! Let me tell you why –
I knew the big ‘rocks’ of projects and goals for my year, and so I was able to map out an expected flow for the year, pegged roughly to annual quarters –
Q1 – Ready
I had delivery of a major project due for May, so I knew that in the first quarter of the year, the best thing I could do was get really prepared, and in the best possible shape for a demanding Q2. I made sure I was eating well, sleeping well, exercising, and really organised.
Q2 – Run
I gave myself permission in advance to abandon all hope of balance and boundaries, and just go flat out in the lead up to project delivery. Knowing it was a planned, defined space of time, and that I had prepared for the sprint, enabled me to embrace the season and just do what needed to be done. It also meant I didn’t beat myself up for having to put aside other commitments or projects (like blogging) for a few months.
Q3 – Rest
This is the one I’m not great at – at least not great at doing without feeling guilty. Some part of me feels like I should have a couple of good sleeps and dive back into the adrenaline. I knew that defining a season of intentional rest and rebalance was absolutely critical to long-term sustainability and productivity, as well as my own well-being and relationships. It doesn’t mean a months-long holiday, but it does mean rebalancing my work hours, reconnecting with loved ones and remembering what it even is I do for fun!
Q4 – Reimagine
As I draw to the end of the year and beginning looking to the next one, I’ll be deliberately exploring what my seasons and goals for the coming year might be – after I’ve built up the margin to do so from a place of well-being.
So why do any of this? Why define the silhouettes of the seasons we expect to go through (recognising of course that some of the most defining seasons we never see coming). Here’s why I’ve found it a powerful exercise so far:
Knowing your seasons gives you perspective
Once I was a couple of months into the year, I hit my ‘Run’ season. It was a big few months, and sometimes it was tough, but I knew, right smack in the middle of it all, that I had known this was coming, I had signed up for it, and it wasn’t going to last forever. That perspective helps you dig a little deeper and go that extra mile, because you know that this is the season for it.
Knowing your seasons gives you permission
Understanding which season I’ve been in at a given time has helped me not feel guilty about doing long hours during ‘Run’ season, or for booking a holiday for my ‘Rest’ season. It has given me permission to spend time, money or focus on priorities for that season.
Knowing your seasons prompts you towards your goals
I am not good at planning for holidays. I tend to just arrive at a point in time when I realise it has been too long, and then I take time off, but don’t really go away anywhere. Knowing I had a season in which rest was a priority helped me plan months in advance for things that I knew would help me do that. Likewise, in each of the ‘Ready’ and ‘Run’ seasons, recognising the moment I was in prompted me to intentionally make choices and plans that would facilitate the priorities of that season.
A stretching season is always tough – but recognising that it is a season makes it a whole lot more manageable. Likewise, recognising a season of more margin helps us make the most of what certainly won’t last forever.
There is power in recognising and embracing the seasons of our years, and our lives. As we approach the mid-year mark, how can you consider what kind of season you are in right now, and what might lie next?