What season of life are you in? Just as we witness the changing seasons in nature, there’s a different rhythm for various times in our lives. There’s a time of growth (springtime), there’s harvest and expansion (summer), a balanced, winding down (fall), and a period of quiet and reorganization (winter).
I’m currently in the cycle of winter. Using the analogy of farming, the seeds have been planted and they’re growing, though it might not be obvious yet. Things are shifting and reorganizing behind the scenes. It’s not a glamorous time. It feels like an in-between space. I find myself feeling antsy to get to the next step, anticipating what’s to come, and sometimes, even wanting to “abandon” this time.
Through my practice of radical acceptance, I’m learning that the quieter, more winter-like states can be profound. They’re oftentimes crucial, even if they don’t feel efficient. My curiosity during this time has led me to understand that every moment in life doesn’t have to be filled with content in order to be necessary and meaningful. There’s beauty in all cycles of experience. As George Santanya said, “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” Instead of running from this time or attempting to push things along more quickly, I’m learning to sit in the discomfort of the unknown (certainty is a false reality, anyhow).
Read on to see what I’ve been questioning in order to gain clarity, practice patience, and access more growth. (P.S. Whether you’re in the same cycle of experience or have just felt momentary waiting periods, these same questions can apply).
1. What is this situation teaching me? What feelings are being brought up?
Asking these questions allows me to recognize what I need to focus on. For example, I’ve been working on a hiking brand for about a year now. The production phase has taken much longer than I expected, and there have been various hurdles over the past few months, further delaying the launch. I found myself feeling impatient; I was eager to launch the brand as soon as possible. So I dug deeper into understanding why I needed to launch on an expedited timeline, instead of focusing on what was in my control and therefore allowing certain things to unravel on their own timeline. I asked myself:
- What feelings is this situation bringing up for me?
- Where are the feelings coming from? (i.e. if I’m feeling impatient, is fear coming up?)
- Am I operating on a real timeline? Or an illusory one?
- Am I holding myself to an external standard
- Am I trying to prove something to myself?
Sitting in this space has allowed me to hear the voice of my intuition. I’m treating this time as an invitation to create space to think and process what’s going on inside, what I have an opportunity to work through, and what I ultimately want to achieve.
2. Why do I need to get to that next thing?
My life coach once said to me, “You’re climbing this mountain, and you can’t wait to get here. And then you get there. And then what? Are you just going to find the next mountain, and keep doing that your entire life?”
It’s true — I’ve found myself rushing from one “peak” to the next, not necessarily enjoying the different phases of the journey. I’ve had a false sense of believing that once I do a certain thing or reach a certain “peak,” it’ll bring me happiness and joy. But that’s not always the case. So I’ve been questioning:
- Why do I “need” this thing to happen? Am I “clinging” to it?
- What feelings do I believe this “checked box” will bring me? Happiness, joy? Why?
- Might it be possible to feel the feelings I’m looking for, but attain them in a different way?
Positive Psychology expert Tal Ben-Shahar talks about how happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way towards a destination that we deem valuable. He shares that, “Happiness is not about making it to the peak. Happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”
I’ve been making a more conscious effort to enjoy the journey in launching my brand, even when I feel like I’m in a waiting period. One day, I know I’ll look back on this time with gratitude. This leads me to the last question I like to ask myself…
3. What can I appreciate and be grateful for right now?
I believe that what we focus on multiplies. If we focus on the bad things, we only see negativity. If we focus on appreciation, we’re reprogramming our minds to pay attention to positivity.
I like to remind myself that in this moment (even as I’m typing this) everything is good. There is so much good in my life and in the experiences that I’m having. Even the ones that aren’t going exactly how I’d like. (There are numerous supply chain issues I have to work through, my trademark requires some legal back-and-forth, and I won’t receive final product until the beginning of the year. But, each of these hurdles is teaching me a valuable lesson in entrepreneurship).
Things I’ve been asking myself:
- What are 5 things I can be grateful for right now?
- What have I learned? About myself? About life? Entrepreneurship?
- What muscles have I been building in this process?
Appreciation and gratitude not only enable a better mindset but allow me to focus on things that are in my control today — the things I can work on, in order to ultimately get to the place where I want to be.
A few weeks ago, I spotted a caterpillar inching its way across my dining room. I was surprised to see the tiny green creature this time of year, especially in my home. Its presence was a gentle reminder of the phases of life we all go through. For the caterpillar, there’s going to be a metamorphosis into a butterfly (even though it doesn’t know it yet). Similarly, I know there’s an opportunity to appreciate the slower, winter mode I’m in. After all, the future is uncertain. And there’s excitement in that.
So, what season of life are you in? Have you thought about how you can make the most of it?
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