My life today is so different from that of my grandparents 50 years ago. They both lived on farms; they worked the dairy business, milking cows, or sowed wheat, raised chickens and grew their own food. They were up before dawn and physically exhausted by the end of the day. Seasonal change dictated their lives. They constantly fretted about just the right amount of rain, the temperature, insects killing their crops and coyotes threatening their cattle. They didn’t have to read about what they could learn from the four seasons in relation to change in their lives because they set their lives by the weather every day.
In wrapping up this series of articles on seasonal change, I have been reflecting on the fact that change can elicit opposite emotions depending on the person and the circumstance: either change is exciting and energizing, or it is frightening and uncertain. In general, change that we choose and plan for is exciting because we have control and are acting on our ability to shape the events of our lives. Change strikes the opposite emotion of fear in us when it happens to us and is outside our control. Nature, I realize, never gives us a 30-day notice on all that will be happening the following month. Nature follows its natural course in relation to the sun, and we humans are wise to keep our senses attuned to what is going on.
We can use strategies we have learned from each of the four seasons to build, organize, promote and grow our personal training businesses and our personal satisfaction as individuals, trainers, wellness coaches and studio owners. For 2010, vow to keep what is working and change what isn’t.
Applying cues from the four seasons can help our lives and careers run smoothly.
Spring. From spring, we learn to take advantage of the growing excitement and energy during this time. During this time, clean out, throw away, give away and make plans for the rest of the year. Capitalize on the energy and motivation your clients have after coming out of winter “hibernation.” Start your financial plan, and create a savings strategy to cover you during any slower months you may experience the rest of the year.
Summer. When summer rolls around we are reminded to have fun and think like a kid again. Life should not be all work but should regularly include some of the simple pleasures of life. Enjoy vacations and help your clients stay motivated during this often hectic period of the year. Reconnect with your creativity and with personal interests that can keep you excited and passionate about life. Make sure you are on target with your business goals before the first 6 months of the year come to a close.
Fall. As the beauty of autumn strikes our senses, we slow down, enjoying the beauty around us and taking a fresh look at the people and goals that are important to us. Are we still spending our time on the right things? Are we preparing for our futures by saving and taking care of ourselves?
Winter. When winter finally arrives, we realize how fast another year has gone by. We wrap up our financial goals for the year and help our clients stay on track with their health goals as they take time off and celebrate the holidays. Most important, before another year begins we take time to catch our breath, count our blessings and express our thanks to people who support us.
Insights Into Change
We can learn a lot about change from nature if we remain alert, aware and closely connected to our physical surroundings. Following are lessons I have gleaned from the changing seasons and circumstances of life:
- Don’t be impulsive. Carefully think out in your mind how and when you want to change before you make it a reality.
- Do not be completely self-serving. When planning changes, consider the impact they will have on other people.
- Set up something to look forward to every day.
- Each year, plan an activity or event that you can get excited about.
- Map out a strategy for each season.
- Plan 2 weeks or more of vacation per year to get away from your routine, rejuvenate and re-evaluate your path.
- Leave space for change. This strategy is challenging for many people, but new things cannot come into your life if there is no room for them.
- Do not overschedule. Again, leave open space in your day so that you have room to think and adapt to the unexpected.
- Realize that you reap what you sow. In nature, if you sow corn, you reap corn. Therefore, if you do not like your results, change what you are doing or you will continue to get the same harvest.
- Know that your desires change as you age. For that reason, rethink your goals every year. Mine are noticeably different than they were 20 years ago.
- Understand that you can only change you. The only things that you can control in life are your own actions, thoughts and emotions. So change yourself, and your surroundings will adapt one way or another.
- Schedule time for yourself. Begin putting yourself on your calendar every day.
For a Better Business—and Life
Enacting positive change requires time to think and get away from your normal routine. I have always made the best changes in my life following a vacation from my normal schedule. On vacation I am able to physically and mentally get away and think and plan for a couple of days or more. As I break free from routine, the fog clears and my path comes into a clear focus. When I am working in my business every day, I lose that clarity.
Over the years I have made some mistakes by implementing changes too drastically and quickly for some clients’ liking and thus lost some good people along the way. Now I know to think through thoroughly what it is I want and why. Regardless of which changes you make in your business this year, you will lose some people and attract new ones. Stay focused on what it is you really want and make changes based on desire rather than fear. Remember that the lives of those you serve will also be changing, and you might not fit into their new plan. This proves what nature teaches us: never get too comfortable, because change is right around the corner. As professionals we have to keep our faces in the public eye, networking and developing relationships as we build, organize, promote and grow our businesses. As soon as you think you have it made, life will throw you a curve ball. So, learning from the seasons’ wonderful example, prepare and be prepared by adjusting to your surroundings. Better your life and your business this year by changing yourself.