I’ve mentioned before that I’m a seasonal drinker: whiskey in the winter, gin in the summer, rosé when temps breach 70 and red once they drop into the 40s. Drinking different things according to the temperature just makes sense to me. You don’t go swimming at the beach when it’s 40 degrees out. Why would you have a glass of bubbly pink wine on a dreary January day?
In the same vein, I subscribe to a philosophy of living seasonally. Before you roll your eyes – actually, go ahead roll them, just keep reading – let me clarify.
I don’t design my days around spring, summer, winter and fall. I simply accept that there are different seasons in my life that inform my priorities, and I roll with it. For example, as last summer bled into fall, my work life was INTENSE. We experienced a period of wild growth, we were onboarding all sorts of new team members, and work flow was rushing along like the mighty Mississippi. I was busy, but mostly I was just brain-fried. I didn’t read a book for weeks. I didn’t feel like going to the gym. I didn’t want to do anything at the end of the work day, so my social calendar was largely empty Monday-Friday. (I can verify this because I put EVERYTHING in my calendar.) Thankfully (or regrettably), I had a scheduled vacation in the midst of the madness, so I got all of my relaxing and socializing done in one big chunk.
I was living in a work-dominated season, and I needed to make concessions in other places in my life. Was it sustainable in the long run? Hell no. Manageable for a couple of months? You bet.
As an athlete, I refer to seasons all the time: training season; off-season, race season, “remember how to not eat like a normal human because training season is over” season. When it’s training season, I’m serious about my workouts. They are planned, intentional and my priority. When it’s the off-season, I only workout because it’s fun and makes me feel good. I’ll take a fitness class because it’s on sale. If I feel like substituting a workout for happy hour with friends, you can bet I’ll have a drink in my hand at 7pm.
The way I see it, I can’t have it all all of the time. But, I can have it all some of the time. Balance isn’t something you achieve by having everything on your plate at once. It’s something you achieve by having a reasonable amount of things on your plate at any given time (and not eating the same damn thing every day).
Right now, I’m transitioning into training season. I’m identifying the time in my schedule that I can reallocate to workouts. I’m reconsidering what I use to fuel my body. (Tragically, 400 calories of red wine on Saturday night isn’t as good at fueling Sunday morning’s run as 400 calories of chicken and sweet potato hash.) I’ll start listening to more health podcasts than business ones, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be making an inspiration board. It’s just that season!
Living seasonably helps me prioritize, refocus, and stay sane. By the time I’m sick of a season of something – work, school, training, self-improvement, family needs – it’s usually coming to an end. I get the productivity benefits of consistency with the creativity benefits of change. I make peace with the fact that I can’t do everything right now, because I know that I can get to all those other priorities next season.
How do you find balance? Do you live your life in seasons? On a five year plan? Take one day at a time? I’d love to hear your approach!