Plan Your Year With the Seasons
Last year I read a really cozy book called Wintering. In it, Katherine May explores her personal connection with the seasons, both literally and metaphorically.
In the middle of a particularly quiet winter, I spent a lot of time thinking about my own concept of seasons and who I was at different times of the year.
Because of the mundanity of the pandemic, like many others I had already become much more aware of the changing seasons. In my daily walks in the park, I had been better at noticing and appreciating the baby ducklings in the spring, the changing light in the summer, the first leaves turning in the fall and that clear winter smell that seems to just appear one cold day.
I had always dreaded winter. Always forgot to check the weather, never wore the right shoes or a warm enough scarf. But in early January 2021 when so many things were so uncertain from vaccine distribution to government coups, it was comforting to still be able to count on that undeniable winter smell when I walked outside. I started noticing how much of a grounding force the seasons could be.
I wanted to preserve the sense of connection to the earth I had gained from this period of quiet hyper-awareness. So as I planned my year, like I do every January, last year I thought about it in seasons instead of quarters.
That change is subtle but powerful.
It's an effort to honor that we have different rhythms, mental capacity and mindset at different times of the year.
As community leaders, we can plan accordingly to match our energy. And we can also acknowledge the needs of our members at different times of the year and start creating a rhythm to our communities.
That’s what I’d like to offer to you this year. As you plan your next 12 months, what if you factored in the seasons in how you plan your both your personal life and community business strategy?
Below are some prompts to get you thinking.
Who are you during each season of the year?
For inspiration, look back at your calendar from last year.
- What activities and projects did you most enjoy both at work and personally during each part of the year?
- When are you most creative?
- What times of year are you comfortable pushing yourself vs taking more time to rest?
- When does your family schedule allow for more free time?
- What are big personal projects for this year you’ve already committed to?
What do your community members need during each season of the year?
Think about your community purpose, values and the growth journeys your members are on.
- When are the problems they face most acute?
- When might they need additional support?
- What else might be happening in many of their lives during each of these seasons?
Given your answers above, what are the 1-3 words that come to mind when you think of how you would like to approach each season in the year ahead? These are your seasonal themes.
Think of these as aspirational. A word or 2 to return to regularly.
Here are mine this year:
❄️ Winter — resting and planning
🌸 Spring — launching
🌻 Summer — experimentation
🍂 Fall — growth
These words for me are both metaphorical and practical. For example, the summer tends to be slower for my business so it’s a good time to try new things and play with ideas.
What about you? What are the themes of your motivations, energy and vibes during different times of the year?
Which project should be your main focus in the community for each season this year?
Reflecting on all your answers above, think about the big ideas you have for your community business. These are things like big events that involve the whole community, onboarding new cohorts, challenges, retreats, conferences, etc.
The focus here can also be internal projects for you like re-doing your operations system, starting an external newsletter or changing community platforms. How can you try to align what your focus is to your seasonal themes?
Anything that you want to do this year that may take more than one season to plan and execute would be good to think about here. If your community is still early and this is hard, take this one season at a time.
Once you’ve taken some time to think about your own priorities during different times of the year and the priorities of your community business, then you’re in a good place to start thinking about your usual new year planning stuff: goals, projects, visions for each area of your life and business. The seasons become the anchors for the big stuff.
It may seem indulgent and silly to plan this way, but I don’t think it’s more silly than planning based on corporate fiscal years or other modern structures that try to wrangle how we spend our time and energy.
After doing this for a year, I now find that even on days when everything feels overwhelming and uncertain, grounding my plans to the seasons reminds me that most things, like the orbiting sun, are out of my control. And that's really nice.
Within the BACB Community we're starting a ritual to reflect and plan our focus and projects together before the start of every season. To learn more about joining the course and community, go here →.
This post was expanded and adapted from an atomic essay I wrote last year.