If you don’t buy into the ‘New Year, New Me’ fanfare and haven’t set your 2023 business goals yet – I want you to (a) know that’s okay, and (b) keep reading. In this blog post I’m going to be outlining Cyclical Business Planning, the symbolism of the four seasons and why Winter isn’t the best time to set goals. You’ll also learn how to use the energy of Spring to build momentum and the writing exercise I use to thrive in my business throughout the year.
What is Cyclical Business Planning?
We are surrounded by and experience various cycles, these include the changing of the seasons, the eight phases of the lunar cycle, and some of you will experience a menstruation cycle. We are going to focus on the cycle of seasons in this blog post, but you’ll find that all of these cycles can affect our energy, mood and personal needs.
I like to think of Cyclical Business Planning as an extension of Cyclical Living, because as the owner of a small online business, my body and business do not work in isolation. When I am tired, or experiencing low energy I will struggle to concentrate on my work. I might need to take more breaks or step away and rest so that I can complete my daily and weekly tasks.
And this is the stark difference between hustle culture, and cyclical planning – you honour your energy and allow rest to be productive.
The four seasons, and what they symbolise:
Each of the seasons probably means something to you, maybe Spring has brighter skies and daffodils, and Autumn is getting cosy and the leaves are changing colour. Each season has its own symbolism and a deeper meaning which connects to our own energy and needs.
Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, we start to see flowers coming to life after the colder months, animals coming out of hibernation and our moods tend to shift with the change in temperature and weather.
Summer is a higher energy season, the weather is at its warmest and the days are long… we often spend more time outside and feel more social
The Autumn is symbolised by the harvest, the summer has ended, crops are being ploughed and the weather is starting to change. The leaves change colour, the weather cools and the days get shorter.
Winter is a season of hibernation, slowing down and resting. For many the winters are cold, harsh and difficult to navigate. The days are short and our energy can be lower at this time of year.
Why Winter isn’t the best time to set goals
Hustle culture builds momentum as we head towards the end of a year with narratives like “Finish your year strong!” and “You’ve still got time”. Yeah. Sure. Okay. You do have time and you can absolutely choose to finish your year “strong”, but more importantly, do you want or need to?
It can feel like the entire online business world is “crushing” their end of year goals, whilst simultaneously mapping out the next year and setting ambitious goals for themselves – but I promise you that a lot of this is bullshit, and most of us want more time.
No one will give us more time. We choose to give ourselves more time when we detach our self worth from hustle culture, recognising our own needs and choosing to do things on our own terms. You do not have to set your goals if and when you’re not ready.
As I mentioned above, Winter is the season of slowing down, resting and hibernating, therefore it makes absolute sense that we naturally want to slow our pace during those colder months. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Winter is accompanied with Holiday shopping and the potential for more sales. So how do you navigate the two?
Remember that YOU are in control of your business. You get to decide what you launch, when you launch, even if or when you’ll take a break from your business.
Personally I like to take time off in December, and encourage my team to do the same. This does take planning, as early September I’ll start to look at my projects and start to map out timelines for tasks.
Instead of planning my year ahead in December and January, I use this time for deep reflection and self inquiry. I’ll write about the previous year, what worked and what didn’t, what I enjoyed and what I never want to do again. I like to use the energy of the Astrological seasons to inspire my journaling, this is something we do in my Patreon community, and it’s a wonderful way of moving through these cycles.
As we head into Pisces season (February 19th – March 20th) and come to the end of Winter, I start to dream a little about the year ahead. I’ll think about what I need from my business, and also how I want to feel when I sit down at my desk each day and work in or on my business.
I didn’t start planning my 2023 goals until mid February, using my intuition to guide me. Within a week I’d mapped out my Spring, and had a tentative plan for Summer – but I can always change my mind!
Trust the journey, because it will feel hard
There were moments earlier in 2023 when I felt uncomfortable about waiting, like I was going to be “behind” or lose momentum in my business. This was a lesson in trusting myself, my intuition and needs. I knew I needed more time, and hustling would only leave me making misaligned decisions that I’d regret later.
Spring & Aries Season
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are heading towards the Spring Equinox, and we will start to feel a new energy. A buzzy 2023 energy! This is because around the same time as the equinox, Aries season will begin, and Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac and therefore, astrologically speaking, it’s a New Year.
Spring is a time for renewal and rebirth, and Aries season asks us to be patient and channel any spontaneous energy into creative projects, or starting something new! Spontaneous Aries is all about jumping in and taking risks without being overly concerned about the outcome. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because this allows new ideas and ways of working to be discovered.
Whether you’re ‘woo curious’, or don’t know anything about astrology – that’s okay! – you can still use this energy to your advantage, especially if you’ve not felt ready to set your goals.
The likelihood is that you know what you want, but you’re still second guessing yourself, so here is a simple journaling exercise to help you honour your needs, strengthen your boundaries and thrive this year in your business.
The Have Need Want Exercise
Write down what you NEED from each layer of your business, look at your finances, marketing, community, sales/launches etc
Then write about how you WANT to feel as you create, market and sell. Each day when you sit down at your desk or in your studio, what would leave you feeling most creative, rested and inspired?
Now look over both of these lists and write about what you HAVE to do in order to honour your needs and feel the way you want on a daily basis. Exploring your wants and needs with curiosity encourages you to look at your business and daily tasks with compassion and invites you to approach your business in new and exciting ways without burning out.
Interested in exploring your business with a regular soul-driven journaling practice? Learn more about our Outlaw Collective on Patreon.