January seems like a long time ago. All that talk of new years resolutions and the push for ‘a new you’.
You know that feeling: January arrives, the planners come out, you look at the year ahead and think, this one will be better. So you set goals, and intentions. You do great for about 6 weeks and by mid- February you are back to your old tricks. We’ve all been there, done that, back to the drawing board.
The challenge with the year-long planning mindset is multiple.
Firstly, it’s a timing thing. What brain actually works in 12 months cycles? Plus, at the beginning of January – at least in the northern hemisphere- we are right in the thick of winter. June is but an aspiration, and as for October, well it’s moons away.
Secondly, it’s to do with goals. Well, not goals per se, but the factors we take into consideration when we set goals.
So often we set goals based on an external sense of what success ‘should look like (a certain weight, a certain salary, a certain number which think we should attain). We work to attain this external validation, but when we get there it is never enough and so we choose another number to reach for. The striving is endless, and exhausting…
So, what if there was another way? What if we could introduce points in the year for celebration and reflection, moments for recalibration and checking in with our goals incrementally. What if we took time to tune inwards, to listen deeply to what our inner selves are craving, sense into our dreams and visions, and plan from that inner place? And what if there were other rhythms and cycles which we could harness to help us to all through all of this.
Well, thankfully, there is another way, and it’s been under our noses for centuries helping the world spin from time immemorial. Simply put: the seasons.
For a long long time, before time was regulated with clocks and mechanical things*, our ancestors used the natural turning of the earth to set their patterns. They knew when it was time to harvest, and time to rest. They learned when it was time to sow, and time to wait. They knew that every season had a rhythm to it, and to live well was to honour that cycle. In between these seasons there were points of pause, celebration, and sacred moments give thanks for the world’s spin.
In the old celtic calendar, the four points of winter and summer solstice, and the spring and autumn equinox became markers in the year, plus each mid-point between the season, making 8 points on the yearly cycle.
For the last number of years I have been working much more with this celtic calendar- both on a personal and a professional level. By creating my own planning ritual on each of these 8 points of the year, and tuning in with the intention of each season, I have found an new/ (and old!) way to set learning objectives and check in with my business and project growth.
Now as I turn inwards to listen, I find that my planning cycles have shifted significantly. I use winter as as time of quiet and reflective creation, the spring as a time to nurture new projects, summer leaves room for play, and autumn has time for allowing what’s not working to fall away. I create project deadlines and targets within this structure too- so, for example, I have set the winter solstice as a writing deadline for myself, and Imbolc (early Feb) as another. In this sense the cycle of the year has become a way to understand and navigate the creative process too- particularly when it comes to allowing new projects and ideas time to percolate in the unknown (winter), and then, in their own time, to germinate (spring).
So by reclaiming these old cycles and honouring the points of ritual throughout the year, I have found a way to break the year into ‘chunks’, creating projects and rhythms which feel much more in sync with the wider systems in nature, and therefore in myself. Things tend to flow better this way, and I’ve more energy too because I have come to appreciate the value of rest and the value of the unknown. So, come January, there’s no need for new year’s resolutions- instead, I look forward to the points in the year when I mark each season with ritual and intention, and create goals and plans from there.
Interested in finding out more and taking part?
Living Seasonally is my online course where I share my process. Over 10 days we tune in to the wisdom each season has to offer, learn more about the celtic calendar and, using a seasonal planner and a series of creative and reflective practices, set our goals and intentions from an inwards place. Along the way there will be poetry, journalling, meditations and time to contemplate and recalibrate.
My intention for the course is to create an online sanctuary- a gathering place, a watering hole- where we can learn new skills and creative practices and where we can share our own insights and stories while soaking in some nourishment for the season ahead.
You can sign up over here…
Hope you will join us!
*for a great read about the history of time, I recommend Jay Griffiths book ‘Pip Pip: A Sideways look at time’.