For as long as I can remember I have had a transient mindset. While most people I meet seem to want (or expect) everything to last forever, I view almost everything as temporary. Looking back at 14 years of consulting, I think it’s fairly obvious. Even if I didn’t think about when I lived it.
I have felt anxiety about not having enough permanency in my life. Still do. But instead of trying to chase something that I don’t seem to be built for, I plan for things to end from the start. I lean into my transient nature.
This begins with going into anything with an end in mind, which gives me a natural timebox. What I have noticed is that when I also set a theme to this timebox it turns into a superpower. I use this technique so often that I’ve decided to give it a name.
I call it a Season.
Seasonality in life
Seasonality is everywhere in life. We’re born, we’re teens, we’re adults, and we retire. Each Season has its theme, and when a Season has passed it never comes again. These larger Seasons also have smaller Seasons within them. Senior year in high school. Becoming a parent. Moving to a new city. Each with a distinctly different theme. Each of them is temporary.
Relationships are Seasons in their own right. Some relationships last a lifetime. Most relationships fade away long before we do. And that’s ok.
Relationships are based on two people wanting something from the other person. Mostly what we want is just to have someone else understand us. As we move through the Seasons of Life, the person we are changes. The consequence is that people who used to understand us no longer do. So the relationship ends.
Losing a loved one drops you into the Season of Mourning. That’s part of life. But it is rare to be intentional about it. Being intentional means you permit yourself to fully experience the loss. You explicitly state (at least to yourself) that you are in a Season of Mourning. And you give yourself permission, for the time being, to not be your best self.
Conversely, sometimes you are in a flow. Be intentional in this too! Harness the flow! State to yourself that you are in a Season of High Energy and do the things that you might not do otherwise. Even if you can’t control your energy levels that granularly placebo will make you think you have all the energy in the world. Of course, this is not sustainable. But it’s ok. It is just a Season, so this too shall pass.
Seasonality in business
If you own a business I guarantee that you already have some seasonality built into it. The fiscal year is one big Season. Public companies report on their quarterly Seasons. Growing a company from 5 to 15 people will catapult the company into a new Season, where things that used to work no longer work.
The problem is that most people sort of just let the seasons happen to them. They lack intentionality. Adapting a Seasonal mindset in business gives you this intentionality. You commit to a theme beforehand and you commit to a deadline. Preferably the deadline feels a little bit uncomfortable.
Having a timebox that feels a bit too tight is good because the constraint will give you a sense of urgency. It will make you go faster. It will make you ask questions like “How can we do this in two weeks instead of five?”.
The theme, on the other hand, focuses your activities in a single direction. If you are anything like me and easily distracted by the next shiny thing, the theme will act as natural guardrails. it allows you to say no.
But more importantly, it allows you to say Not Right Now. Not right now is easier for the other person to digest than a plain No. And it opens up to a question. What are you doing Right Now? Right Now focusses your energy. Right Now is a superpower in itself.
Seasons in my life
Living in Beijing from 2012-2013 gave me an extreme version of Seasonality in relationships. Almost every foreigner (i.e. not from China) I spent time with was there temporarily (6 months to a couple of years), and most of them were there to get as much out of it as possible before they left. Relationships were geared towards supporting this goal of maxing out. When I moved back to Sweden, these relationships no longer served a purpose. Without really thinking about it, I let them go.
During 2023 my Seasonal mindset made it possible for me to take time off. I went into a 7-month-long nomadic semi-retirement. It was a Season of Letting Go. I dropped old habits and beliefs and learned to live in a way that allowed me to work from anywhere.
As 2023 rolled over to 2024 I’m in a Season of Solitude. Even though I’m back in Stockholm1 I say no to every invitation to meet for coffee, lunch and networking. Not Right Now.
This means I have to pass on some offers that I had jumped on a year ago. Those specific offers might never come again, and that’s ok. I know from experience that opportunity also moves in Seasons. When I’m ready I will enter a season of abundant opportunity.
The obvious downside is that I risk missing compounding returns. Sticking with something long enough is how you grow anything into something truly great. This is especially true for companies.
Leaving money on the table is ok for me. I’ve learned that I value living my life the way I want to live it over having more. That said, living life without any long-term goal is the same as living without intention. Expanding the timebox to a decade I can frame this long-term goal as a Season too.
I learned to use seasonality to let myself flow with intention. Everything moves in waves. Abundance, scarcity, happiness, pain, opportunity, isolation. You don’t have as extreme a view as I have, but perhaps you can take inspiration from it and apply the principles to your own life.
Do not overthink it, though. It’s easy to go overboard and say that everything is a Season without first understanding the two mechanisms. Make sure you are intentional with both the theme and the timebox. And stay disciplined with both. The magic happens at the edge of the constraint.
I would recommend anyone who wants to try it to start small. Starting too big will make it feel more safe, but “safe” will not force a change. And you need a change to propel yourself forward.
Exactly how you define your Seasons depends on who you are and what drives you. If you are an entrepreneur, maybe set an intention for your business for the year and make that your Season. If you are employed, maybe choose a lane for your career and commit to a Season lasting a decade.
If you are just starting your career, or simply don’t know what you want, a Season of Exploration2 is a great place to start. This is where you say yes to most things, try many things in many fields and commit to nothing. Do this for six months to a year and I promise you you will have much more clarity on what your next Season should be.
And that’s it. You should now have all the tools to live your life with a little bit more intention. So all that remains is for you to answer one question for yourself.
What Season are you in right now?
After over a decade of building apps, teams and companies, I've now started coaching founders and CTOs through something that I call Nyblom-as-a-Service.
If this is something that would be interesting to you feel free to schedule a free discovery call to see if we are a good match for each other.