Have you noticed the way your moods, thoughts, and energy levels fluctuate with the annual seasons? The feeling of fresh opportunity in spring, the momentum of summer, the peaceful slowdown of autumn, the restoration of winter; seasons clearly influence people.
As I wrote recently, humans are a part of nature. We don’t come into this world, we come out of it. Thus, as the sun and earth interact with each other to create the seasons, we are naturally influenced by that process.
It might seem nuts, but I discovered this to be a rough pattern in my life as I looked over my journal entries from the last few years. In a general sense, my thoughts and actions directly follow the seasons of the year.
Virtually every spring I have tons of energy to “create” – I am inspired to start new projects, build exciting things, and expand in new ways. As spring turns to summer, the creative energy slows while there is more focus on growing and expanding what has already been started. By fall, some of the enthusiasm starts to drop and the projects coast along for a while. During winter, the “crops” shed unnecessary branches to make way for new growth next spring.
This is the natural pattern that repeats itself throughout nature, but I had no idea this was happening in my own life. As a result, I was often confused and discouraged by the changing seasons. When the momentum of a project started to drop at the end of summer, I figured it was simply ‘not working’ and lost interest. My lack of understanding of seasonal changes actually caused some the projects to die.
That got me thinking, why not intentionally schedule your business and personal plans around the seasons? This allows your activities to go with the grain of nature. It makes your work virtually effortless and gives your endeavors the best opportunity to thrive. Here’s how the process works:
Spring – Plant
It’s hard to pick one “first” season, because they form a continuous cycle where each is dependent upon the previous. Nevertheless, we’ll start when the dead brush of the winter has cleared way for new growth. The seeds gathered and sorted during winter can now be planted.
For humans, this is when we start to get inspired by ideas. The ideas may have formed in the winter, and we may have made some initial plans. Now they are ready to be planted. This is when you dig up the soil, get your hands dirty, and take action. You can follow your inspiration during this phase and act on the opportunities that are presented. Trust that they will lead you in the right direction.
Summer – Grow
The inspiration of spring gives way to the growth of summer. This is when new ideas stop coming so strongly, and our desire turns to the existing crops that are already growing.
Summer is a great time to keep your head down and make progress. It’s when you ride the momentum and keep creating value. The state of flow is most strong in the summer, where work/play becomes effortless and automatic.
In our society, people often take the summers off and do less work. This can be disastrous. It causes the valuable crops of spring to wither and die without the care they need. As we will see, the time to take an extended break is in the early winter. Summer is for cultivating a strong crop to harvest in the fall.
Fall – Harvest
One of the most dramatic changes happens at the end of summer. This is when the momentum and growth begins to slow. If not prepared, this can be a scary experience. For me, many of my business projects died in early fall when the momentum slowed down and I didn’t understand how to respond.
The purpose of fall is to harvest. The farmer knows that the growth of summer is building towards the harvest when he can reap value from his work. If he expected the crops to keep growing indefinitely, they would wither and die on the branches. Instead, he uses fall to gather the valuable fruit and prepare the rest of the plant to survive the winter.
A blogger, for example, might spend the summer posting great content and building readership. And during the fall, she could launch a paid product to harvest some of the momentum’s value before it slows down. Additionally, she can put functions in place to survive the winter slowdown, such as launching a newsletter to keep readers involved.
Internet Marketers have understood these trends for a long time.
Winter – Prune
As the days become shorter and the temperatures colder, life slows down.
Now is the time to sit back, reflect, and become more introspective. Work can still be done, but it is often of a different sort. Pruning excess growth is the type of work that comes most naturally here. Winter is when you would remove the 14th product line from your bloated business, for example, and and create a focused plan for the next year.
Winter is also a test of strength. If your project isn’t strong enough to survive the winter, nature will clear it away, allowing something new to grow in its place This is a valuable mechanism. Otherwise, all the old brush would continue to linger, strangling new projects in the spring. If the project is truly worthy, it will withstand the stagnation of winter and come back leaner next spring, ready for another round of growth and development.
Organizing Your Life Around the Seasons
There are 3 main advantages of organizing your life around the seasons:
1. Going with the Flow
Working with the seasons allows you to act in accordance with your own intuition and motivation. Going with the flow of life is always so much easier than fighting it.
You know those times where life feels like a struggle? Where the task list is only getting longer and the work you do is met with tremendous resistance? Think of an example of this happening recently – were you trying to do a type of work that is best suited to a different season? There are many other reasons for resistance, of course, but fighting seasonal trends can be a major hinderance to productivity.
Planning a new business in the late fall, for example, will be much tougher than in January when the seeds are ready to be sorted and prepared for planting.
2. Harnessing the Power of Nature
Following this pattern allows you to pass off much of the grunt work to nature. As if it wasn’t clear, nature is pretty effective at getting its work done. Why not take advantage of that power?
This requires discipline to organize your work so that each season gets its most productive types of work: pruning/planing in the winter, launching in the spring, growing/expanding in the summer, and harvesting in the fall).
Similarly, most people would fight against the slowdown of winter, but people who follow the seasons can understand the necessity for clearing out the old branches and making room for growth in spring. Nature is smart. Learn from the intelligence of nature and work within its cycles.
3. Predictable Annual Cycles
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of all, working with the cycles of nature gives you a clear and consistent roadmap for the entire year. Of course you’ll never know for sure how things will turn out, but you can plot a pretty solid course that matches the seasons.
This is a great way to work. It allows you to move slowly and deliberately over a full year. Rather than working as fast as possible or struggling to get things done, your work takes on a much more effortless flow that is actually quite fun. It’s like taking a leisurely drive through the countryside to avoid the rush hour traffic, but where the countryside is such a dramatic shortcut that you end up getting to your destination even faster.
Additionally, seeing the cycles allows you to remain calm, composed, and prepared for what’s coming next. It almost gives you a crystal ball for understanding your own motivations and feelings. The lack of motivation in the fall, for example, was planned for in January. It comes as no surprise.
The external world won’t always follow the seasons. Your customers might come most strongly in January, for example, or your boss may have you start a project in September. That’s fine. If necessary, you can do what needs to be done at any time of the year.
This is not meant to be a rigid structure, but a way of understanding and adapting to the patterns that move through yourself. The important thing is getting a handle on how you fluctuate through the seasons. This helps you make sense of your motivations in a way that gives you the greatest personal power.
If you’re lucky enough to have freedom over your work and time, try planning the things you do to align with the seasons. Plant new projects in the spring, grow them in the summer, harvest the rewards in the fall, and trim the excess over the winter. I mentioned primarily work examples here, but it works just as well with personal endeavors too.
Aligning your own efforts with nature is a very rewarding endeavor. It helps you to create beter results, discover fewer unwanted suprises, and harvest more enjoyment out of life.
Image Credit: .Andi.