Want more moments of feeling the way you want to feel?
Make it happen! The importance of a seasonal check-in
On the spring equinox on March 20, we marked a day of balance when the day and night were nearly equal in length. The equinox is a magical moment when we dive headlong into a new a season.
Spring is a time of renewal, new life, and rebirth in the Northern Hemisphere. It is my favorite time of the year. The snow melts. Flowers and trees begin to bud or bloom. There is a sense of promise in the air.
I find that it is an ideal moment of the year to conduct a seasonal check in with myself. If I want more moments of feeling the way I want to feel, I need to be intentional to make sure they happen. I do this by taking stepping back each season to reflect and then plan.
As I listen to the rain outside, I am sitting in my bed in my pajamas. I have the house to myself with my husband at work and my son at school. I’ve placed my Desire Map monthly planner and favorite pen next to me. On my lap desk, my laptop and mug of chai await. My phone is set to do not disturb.
Safe, warm, and cozy in a quiet cocoon that I have created for myself, I am ready to conduct my seasonal check-in. With my core desired feelings as my guide, I review and reflect on the past season before making plans for the next.
Quarterly review. Checkpoint. Seasonal review. Seasonal check-in. Use whatever term works for you. What matters is conducting your own. I find that this practice helps me to feel the way I want to feel in the coming months.
Ready to conduct your seasonal check in? Your spring review in March is a great time to recommit yourself or take on a fresh, new goal.
Create space and time for yourself four times a year
Treat your seasonal check-in as self-care and as a non-negotiable event on your calendar. Decide what this will look like for you to determine how much time you need.
For me, I need 3–4 distraction-free hours. I schedule my review right around the change of seasons a week or so in advance.
Others turn the process into a full day or weekend-long retreat away. If this suits you, you may need to schedule this precious time months or even a year in advance. You can add in meditation, prayer, visualizations, or yoga to get in the right mental space. You might also choose to spend a large chunk of time getting a head start on important projects.
Get away to a distraction-free location
Someday, I will conduct a retreat like seasonal review in a hotel or resort with a view. But that does not work for my current season of life as a parent of a school-aged child.
You do not need to travel for your seasonal check-in. But you will require a change of setting. A different room in your house, coffee shop, park, or the local library will do.
Create a distraction-free environment that enables you to focus, reflect, and plan. To listen deeply to your intuition and heart, you have to be present. Turn off your phone and notifications. Listen to inspiring music if that helps. Light a candle or infuse essential oils. Dive in. Get comfortable.
Review and reflect
To move forward with action, look back first. Below is my process for you to adapt to your needs.
Review my core desired feelings: Do these feel right or do they need some tweaking?
Review the goals or intentions I landed on in January for the year. Look at my notes about why I set these goals and what core desired feelings they will help me to feel.
Are my goals and intentions still fully aligned with my core desired feelings? If not, the goal might be externally rather than internally motivated.
How did I want to move closer to my intentions so far in the first 79 days of into the new year? What actually happened? Is there anything I can learn from this? If I am trying to establish a new habit, has it taken hold now that we have passed the requisite 66 days?
If I have achieved or made significant progress, did I celebrate the way I planned? If not, I add schedule celebration on my task list.
But what if I am not where I wanted to be at this point? What if I have gotten off track or am not feeling the way I want to feel? I try not to despair at this point. Instead of a roadblock, this is a road sign that I need to change my course. I need to model the growth mindset that I want my son to have.
If I am struggling, I try to shove my perfectionistic inner voice aside. Instead, I try to imagine what a friend or a mentor would advise me to do. Is there any element of striving or proving? Have I learned anything? Should I recommit? Do I need to adjust or maintain any behavior, habit or ritual?
What tweaks can I make to put my goals in the sweet spot of my core desired feelings?
Are there any goals that I need to remove or replace? Yes, I have permission to do this because it is my life and may be necessary to feel the way I want to feel.
Review monthly check-in documents from the last three months.
Review my current projects. Use Todd Henry’s project review system of Prune, Automate, Delegate, Defer or Schedule.
Review my calendar for the next three months. Most importantly, does my schedule make me feel the way I want to feel? Am I looking forward to at least two things? A vacation? A project? Visits with family, friends or loved ones? Do I have any schedule conflicts? Any key events that require preparation? Does my calendar reflect my priorities?
Review my stop doing list.
Review my seasonal focus lists. For this review, I reviewed my winter 2018 list and my spring 2017 list.
Intention: Meet Action.
After I review and reflect, I can make plans to move forward with action. At this point, I create a focus list document for the season. (I use Evernote for this.)
At the top, I list my core desired feelings. I also include an affirmation or truthbomb for the year or season.
Next, I list my 2018 intentions for the year. I write down how will I move closer to my 2018 intentions and what I will focus on this season.
In addition to my yearly intentions, I tend to have a few areas of focus each season. For example, this spring I will:
- Take a spring break vacation in Washington D.C. to feel deep connection, curious and free.
- Play on a tennis team to feel deep connection and take care of my health.
- Visit my parents over Memorial Day weekend to feel deep connection, free, and hygge.
- Plan an anniversary getaway and a family vacation to feel deep connection and free.
What makes me happy this season? Remember: your primary intention is to feel good. I list seasonal pleasures that make me happy to remind myself to enjoy them. Examples from my spring list include enjoying the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms. Getting outside on sunny spring days. Watching the Roland Garros tennis tournament on TV. Going on a spring break vacation in search of new sites or some sun.
I also include a what makes me happy in general list as well.
What’s important to me right now?
What are the next steps for my intentions and areas of focus for the season? I keep project tasks in an app called Nozbe with back up documentation in Evernote and Google Docs.
Don’t repeat the process from scratch every season
As I repeat this ritual only four times a year, I worried that I would forget all the steps and questions to ask myself. To prevent this, I created a project template in Nozbe so that I can dive right in each season.
Want to conduct your seasonal review? Sign up for a seasonal check-in worksheet and the Feeling Fabulous Friday newsletter.
Kelsey Cleveland helps women navigate transitions and their conflicting desires. Using the Desire Map method, she helps them to plan their lives with intention based on how they want to feel.
She is also a freelance writer who writes articles, essays and blog posts and is working on a book-length memoir about conflicting desires.