Personal Writing

Syncing with the seasons: a mindful approach to life, work and personal growth

We’re at that hard part of the year where, despite having had a remarkably mild winter thus far, I want “real” Spring to arrive STAT. I want to be outside without a heavy coat, hat and mittens. I want to open the windows and let the fresh air in. I want to consider what I’m going to plant in the garden.

Instead, I’m drinking copious amounts of tea and mugs of hot water. I’m making big batches of soup. I’m climbing under a wool blanket to read in the morning.

No matter how much we might wish it, we can’t hurry the seasons along. They operate on their own timeline, which is rarely in sync with ours.

I was on a three-day seminar with publicity and marketing strategist Selena Soo earlier this week; one of her guest speakers was Kate Northrup, creator of the Do Less planner and author of Do Less.

One of Kate’s main points was that we are made of the same elements as everything in nature, and our bodies operate inside nature’s cycles. Consequently, we shouldn’t ignore them in our lives and in our work. “We should not be in perpetual harvest,” she noted. “Oak trees shed their leaves and do quiet, internal work during externally dormant times.” The same is true of us.

Or at least it should be.

That Puritan work ethic is hard to shake, and while it serves us well in many instances, our relentless drive to do more, be more, achieve more, work harder leaves many of us depleted, unhealthy and deeply unhappy with the state of our lives.

What if it’s not about doing more? What if, instead, it’s about working like Mother Nature works?

Consider the four seasons:

  • Spring—a time for planting seeds and emerging growth
  • Summer—when steady growth occurs with care and attention
  • Autumn—a time to harvest the bounty of our labors
  • Winter—when nature rests and gears up to begin again

Can you see how that applies to your own relationships, personal life and work, whether you’re venturing into a new project or career or simply want to make a change inside your existing life or job?

*This week, challenge yourself to align your projects or goals with the gifts of each season, appreciating the cyclical nature rather than the relentless pursuit of constant progress. Acknowledge that, like nature, we need moments of repose to thrive.

  • Spring—plant seeds by networking, launch your work as you grow, say yes to opportunities, even when you don’t feel quite ready
  • Summer—tend to your existing work and relationships, nurture and care for them, share with and support others, enjoy the process of steady growth
  • Autumn—recap and reflect on what worked and didn’t, gather feedback, begin the process of planning for the future
  • Winter—slow down, take a much needed mental and physical break, say yes to fewer things

We don’t live outside of nature; we don’t even live inside of nature. We are nature.

Nature emphasizes the importance of rest through hibernation, shedding, low tide and early sunsets. Embrace this rhythm, you’ll begin to recognize the value of intermittent breaks, quiet reflection and preparation for rejuvenation in your own routine.

Real spring will be here soon enough, and we’ll reap the benefits of warmer weather, longer days and the beauty of rebirth. The same will be true of our life and work, if we’ll only intentionally follow the cycles we are made of.

*Obviously, it’s not about following the literal timeline of Mother Nature. You might experience elements of all four seasons monthly, weekly or even daily. The point is to be intentional about when and how you are working and resting.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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