Working in seasons
Recently I’ve come across several different notions of how we can live and work in harmony with our ‘seasons’, and I find the concept fascinating.
When I worked as an employee we used to set yearly, quarterly and monthly goals, and through my journey setting up as a freelancer I’ve been surrounded by traditional advice telling me I should be doing the same. Many of the planners and business guides I’ve picked up over the years have followed this same line of thinking too, but trying to fit my own business into this model has just never felt…quite right.
I’ve sensed there’s been something missing – that something in both myself and in my business wasn’t being properly recognised. After spending time reflecting on a few ‘seasonal’ models I realise they fit so much better to my beliefs, values and the way I want to live and work.
I’m not totally abandoning years, months, weeks and days – that road probably leads to insanity – but these time scales are beginning to feel less significant when I set work goals.
I want to share my musings with you all incase any of it resonates, and you feel inspired to consider how seasons play a role in your own life and business.
Life & work seasons
When we let go of the need to be somewhere we’re not, we realise that maybe we are exactly where we need to be.
The concept of seasons in relation to work really hit home for me while I was working through a guided journal called Homecoming by Jen Carrington (which I loved incidentally). Throughout the guide, Jen uses the concept of work and life seasons, and it just made sense. Rather than asking what big goals or achievements I want to be working towards in my business, she asks what I want to be spending more time doing in this season of my business – and life.
Life doesn’t always happen in fixed weeks, months or years. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve made plans in terms of ‘this month I’m going to…’ or ‘this year I’m going to…’ and ended up inevitably disappointed when I haven’t ‘achieved’ what I’d planned to in that time.
This probably says something about the unrealistic nature of my goal setting (which I imagine is a whole post in itself), but planning in seasons help me start to address this struggle. It gives me a sense that things will change, that I’ll reach my goals and the season will eventually end – but it doesn’t set hard boundaries for when I should reach that place. It lets me enjoy the journey rather than focus solely on the end goal.
But what exactly does this look like? What do I want to be doing in this season of my life and work?
In this season of my life I want to focus on my own health and wellbeing first and foremost. I want to make sure I rest when I need to rest, and calm my mind as often as I need to. I’m building my business sustainably around this, and exploring joy and creativity when I feel inspired. I can’t put a time limit on this. It might last a few months or even a few years.
In this season of my work I’m building my client base and growing my social media understanding. I’m working to create some clearer work packages and support content for them, thinking about email list building, and creating a free offering and a free quiz for my website. I expect this season of structure-building will last several months at the very least – but possibly up to a year or so. Again, it’s not about the time limits. From these foundations I’m making smaller goals for myself to complete every week, and honestly I think I’m actually being more productive!
Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like. Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. The seasons can play a huge role in our work.
In some businesses how the seasons affect you will be more obvious (if you sell ice-cream, it’s probably a given that you’re going to make more sales in summer and less in winter), but what about the less obvious impacts?
As a general guide I know that Spring and Autumn are my busiest seasons. People have more motivation to make changes and take strides forward, so I try to factor this in. I know that the darkest depths of winter is my quietest time, and that’s ok because I can use that extra space to do some soul searching and re-evaluating for my own business.
I believe it’s really important to respect our own needs during the different seasons as well. In spring I feel rejuvenated and I enjoy getting out into the world, in Summer I want to explore and be everywhere, and in Autumn I get urges to sort stuff out. In winter I go into hibernation mode; I’m more tired, less sociable, and I just want to hole away somewhere. Over the years I’ve noticed I’ve been more prone to depressive periods and bigger relapses with my ME in Winter, but I also enjoy the quieter intimate moments with friends, family and clients more around this time.
And this is all ok.
When we work for ourselves, we are in a unique position where we’re able to accommodate these needs if we want to. In fact, I see it as a strength. When I’m living and working in harmony with myself, I feel healthier, happier, and I produce much better work.
I’ve been reading Wild Power by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer recently, and my absolute favourite concept from the book is the idea that we can consider menstrual cycles in terms of seasons. Menstruation is our winter, then we come into spring (the week or so after), through to summer (ovulation), into autumn (the week or so before menstruation) and back to winter.
I’ve grown up thinking about my period in monthly terms simply because it’s the way it was explained to me in school and how it’s often talked about, but like many other women my cycle doesn’t play to these rules. I can’t look at a calendar and say ‘oh, it’s near the start of the month so I’m due’, it always changes.
I can however look at what season of my cycle I’m in, and plan accordingly. In my spring I generate ideas, my summer is best for putting myself out there, in my autumn I want to just get stuff done, and in my winter I want the universe to leave me alone. Nowadays I mark my menstrual seasons in my planner so I know how my hormones are going to affect me, and I’ll allow this to influence what plans I make. Have a video to create? Big meeting? That’s a summer task. Getting taxes done – that’s for autumn. In winter I’ll make sure there’s time for me to take a red tent day or two if I really need it – and sometimes I do.
Life and work doesn’t always play ball, and of course there’s plenty of times I can’t completely accommodate my cycle, but where I do have the flexibility to plan with my cycle in mind, I do.
When we work for ourselves we have the ability to choose our own way of doing things. Years, months and weekly timetables absolutely have their merits, but I find them a bit lacking when it comes to accommodating my wellbeing. By delving into how seasons play a role in my own life in their many varied ways, it has brought me closer to living and working in a more sustainable and self-loving way, and perhaps it does the same for you.
Ultimately though, it’s about being honest with ourselves about what truly serves our work and life needs best – and often this is different for us all.
Do you know what works best for you?