This one goes out to all my friends whose brain's haven't caught up to it being a “new year” — and who need the equivalent of an internet hug.
That's right my dudes— the Call Me When You Get This podcast is back. New episodes are available on this email list, ONLY! Just for you. Because I love you.
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Have you written “2022” anywhere recently? Did your brain sort of ~glitch~ when you wrote it, because it still doesn’t feel real? But then, just as quickly, your brain went kind of numb to that feeling, and you went on with your day?
Did someone on social media recently post a dreamy, swipe-through carousel of well-designed slides in muted tones and a minimalistic font, featuring their really well-written New Year “intentions,” because they “no longer believe in resolutions”?
Did your brain sprint through a series of contradicting feelings just then, like “oOOo, I kinda like that way of looking at goals” to “what would my intentions be?” to “wait, why do I still have no idea what I’d write!?” to “NM this stuff is cheesy as f^@% anyway!”— and then SPEED SCROLL AWAY?
There’s nothing wrong with us.
Wanna know why?
This might not be your “new year.”
This might bethe middle of your winter.
Try as we might, humans can’t shake our connection to nature, seasons, the cycles of the moon, or the weather. (Nor should we.)
Sure, Captains of Industry are trying to make everything a constant stream of production and consumption; there’s always something going on. But in reality? Humans are more like plants with feelings than machines.
We have our own seasons.
→ Remember a few weeks ago, when I told you a story about a peach tree and a little bird talking to each other in an orchard?
→ About how you can only “bear fruit” when your branches can handle the weight of those peaches ~ AND ~ if you just so happen to be ready to grow those peaches during the correct season?
→ That your productivity isn’t about your willpower, but more about the resources you have in that moment, plus the context you’re living in?? (ICYMI, catch up on that email here.)
Whether you like it or not, your placement on this planet —the seasons— have an effect on you.
If you’re in the northern hemisphere, like I am, this is the middle of winter. The period of time where things have s l o w e d d o w n. Where it’s quiet, grey, or there are less hours of daylight each day. That’s just the tangible experience of winter in the northern hemisphere. It's your environmental winter. But also?
This might be your personal winter.
ALEXIS, WHAT DO YOU MEAN “PERSONAL WINTER”?
Sometimes our personal seasons align with the environmental season we’re in—but sometimes they don’t.
Have you ever considered what time of year you tend to be higher energy, or more motivated to try new things, meet new people, explore, be social, be “out and about”?
What about the time of year where you feel an almost panicked sense of reflection; an urge to suddenly question every choice you’ve ever made? Like, “GAHHh I used to care about this thing, why don’t I care about it anymore? Why did I spend my time this way? What am I doing with my life?!”
What about a period where you feel lower energy? Does meeting new people sound tiring? Would you rather cozy up by yourself at home, or be around the 1 to 2 humans you know you like and trust?
Here's what I'm getting at:
If, right now, you WISH you COULD set intentions or make plans for this year —but you can’t seem to commit, or even get yourself to care as much as you think you should— that’s okay.
It’s not a sign there’s something wrong with you or that you’re not “handling stuff well.” It's a sign you're a human.
First of all, think about just ~how much~ is going on in our world right now. And sure, we SAY that all the time; we acknowledge that things are scary, complex, uncertain—but then we ACT like things are normal. We behave as though we should all be “fine.” Things are not normal! Who even knows what fine looks like!
You know What IS normal? For your brain to decide that right now, iT's time to conserve energy.
I’ve said it before: all your brain cares about is energy.
It makes predictions —at lightning-fast speeds— in an effort to conserve energy, keep you alive, and help you live according to your values. [For more on this, read this book.]
Soooooo let’s say, for example, that there was a lot going on in your world & circumstances recently (and we both know there was 👀 ). Okay, well, you used up a lot of your energy budget just to be a human over the course of 2021.
→ If your brain has learned that the best thing it can predict is the unexpected —that it should anticipate uncertainty, because world circumstances have taught you that’s how it works— then it will find ways to conserve your energy.
→ Giving you a whole bunch of extra motivation to make plans and commitments around what you’re “going to achieve” in the coming year WOULDN’T MAKE SENSE. That would be completely ignoring all the information it has collected through your recent experiences!
The point is— you are a peach tree. More of a plant with feelings than a machine.
And if you DON’T feel aligned with the Gregorian calendar and the entirely arbitrary assignment of the “you should have new feelings and want to new things as of January 1st” thing—that is perfectly acceptable.
Not weird. You could even lean into that, if you wanted. 😉
I APPRECIATE THIS, ALEXIS BUT…I COULD REALLY USE SOME “PERSONAL SEASON” EXAMPLES??
Sure thing! It’s taken me several years of spending more time reflecting than I spend setting goals—and I use my favorite annual reflection questions to help me figure this out.
ANYWAY, my personal “quarters” don’t align with traditional “business quarters” (like Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4). Some of my seasons are a 3 months long; some 4 months; some 2.
How did I determine this? By noticing the quality of my energy, attention, motivation, and mood during a particular season—and when things started to shift.
Case in point? My “first quarter of the year” is a hyper-reflective hermit-mode, and it starts in December of the previous year.
Vulnerability Alert: I’m about to show you the EXACT notes I have for myself in my Notion dashboard—the ones that help me stay sane when everyone else is living out a different season than I am.
MY PERSONAL WINTER
DECEMBER, JANUARY, FEBRUARY
Vibe: reflection with the volume turned all the way up ✍🏻
Things to embrace about my Winter:
big sorting, organizing & “what’s my system?” energy 🚮
dark hours / different sleep schedule 😴
bookworm / research nerd / study hall vibes 📚
dramatic rest / deliberate time off 🚫 📆
Reminders for my personal Winter:
If you get sad, don’t freak out. It’s not a diagnostic thing, or a deficit, or a disorder for you. It’s shorthand for knowing your energy will take a dramatic seasonal shift. You might not even recognize yourself; you got used to being someone elseearlier in the year. That’s okay. Let yourself transform again and again. This is how you grow!
When you’re in Study Hall mode, try to create a system for your notes. Write something on the post-it you added to that page, or add keywords to the article you saved in the Inbox page. It’ll help a lot in Spring when we’re in Bloom mode and we need to find those sources & ideas!
Take your vitamin D3. And go outside, even when it’s gray. You’ll still get UVA / UVB rays through those clouds, and you could use the fresh air, okay?
MY PERSONAL SPRING
MARCH, APRIL, MAY, JUNE
Vibe: Bloom mode, BB 💐
Things to embrace about my Spring:
big “get it done” and “gimme due dates” energy ✅
coming outta my shell / make it fashion 🤳🏻
planting vegetable beebs in tiny garden 🍅
mood: I got this, lights camera action, say yes to collabs 💅🏻 📽
Reminders for my personal Spring:
Embrace the motivation surge! You’ve had time to incubate ideas in Winter, and now you’re ready to make those ideas into tactical plans. Go with it!
If you signed up for any Winter classes that carry into the Spring, don’t be surprised if you’re kind of antsy or bored in Mar April May. Go-mode makes zoom classes feel sloooowwwwww.
Even if committing to a big deliverable project back in Jan/Feb sounds awful, remember that you’ll probably have a ton of execution energy in April/May — so you can always reverse engineer “to-do list stuff” from an April or May “project is out in the world” date and know that you’ll find the energy to get it done.
Embrace growing season! Learn about some plant babies and get them in the garden in time for their own blooming season. You saw how much you loved that tomato, I mean damn
MY PERSONAL SUMMER
JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER
Vibe: outside outside outside outside! ☀️
Things to embrace about my Summer:
reaping the benefits of what work I’ve sown 🍑 💸
personal new year! 🥂 🎂 (my birthday always plants reflection seeds)
BBQs! Parking lot patio! Bare skin! Time with friends! ☀️
Reminders for my personal Summer:
You’ve got a project or two left in you, kid. Don’t worry about doing anything “consistently,” just know that you’ll still have outward energy for most of this season, and you can say yes to something you didn’t know you had in you!
Remember to harvest (aka ENJOY) the delicious stuff you’ve sown: garden veggies, free time with friends, new revenue from spring’s extraverted projects, new collaborators and interest. No, you don’t have to do any of this forever!
Spend your weekends in the fresh air, when you can. Bask in the sunshine. Play at rollerskating. Invite friends over. Travel somewhere. You can use your extraverted energy for people, too— it doesn’t all have to go to work / brand / career stuff!
Spite your pasty white ancestors by wearing regular sunscreen (and with continued anti-racism education / collective action) please and thank you
MY PERSONAL FALL
Vibe: new energy cocktail— one part reflection, two parts get stuff done 🍸
Things to embrace about my Fall:
look at those electric leaves! 🍂
explore something off topic, on purpose 🗺
Reminders for my personal Fall:
Don’t beat yourself up for not caring about extraverted projects anymore. This is normal for you! Consistency does not equal frequency; consistency what you’re trusted and known for.
Realizing your IRL self has changed, but your online self hasn’t caught up? Don’t feel bad. That’s normal. We usually get the urge to “rip down the wallpaper” around this time.
You might be feeling sad about the weather and the daylight. That’s okay, don’t be scared about feeling sad. You’ll really like the cozy feeling later, but for now: Go take a trip somewhere, if it’s safe to do so. Explore something. Do off topic things for a couple months. Get inspired by things that aren’t related to your usual “field of study.”
You might not want to sit with the “what kind of family are we” feeling, but it’s better to do that now than to feel side-swiped by it in Winter. Will you want to decorate a Christmas tree? Do you want to have a friends over for Thanksgiving? Some of these things require you start now, or plan now. If you want those things, then planning won’t feel labor-some for you.
WOW, ALEXIS — YOU ARE A LOT
😂 Tell me about it!
Did you need to know all that about me? Probably not. But I thought you deserved an example of a different way of thinking about yourself, you know?
So…happy winter to all my fellow Peach Trees having their personal Winters.
Happy feeling your feelings.
Happy isolating, social distancing, and being kind yourself and to one another, because— wow.
What a time to be alive, huh?
PS:Would sharing more of my Quarterly reflection questions (or my Personal Seasons template, shown above in Notion) be helpful? Hit reply and let me know!