It’s a frigid 20 degrees outside. Snow comes down a little every day. The sun sets before you get home from work. These are all signs of winter. Winter is that dreary time of year when you get depressed and dream of being a snow bird in Florida.
Mother Nature may say it’s winter but is that really your season? Seasons are cycles of nature. You also have seasons in your life. What season are you in?
Determining your life’s season is important for your happiness and productivity.
It’s “busy season” in the public accounting realm. We work six or seven days a week and work extremely long hours. Breakfasts are eaten in the office and so is dinner. It’s just that time of year for accountants.
This still isn’t the type of season about which this article is written. What is your season of life?
Life can be broken down into several seasons, or stages.
1. Childhood – This is the time of life when someone else is responsible for you. I consider this to be all the way through college graduation for most people. Your responsibility is to go to school and keep your nose clean. Your parents (hopefully) are taking care of your fiscal needs.
2. Young Adulthood – You’re responsible for yourself and no one else. You can be a college graduate in your first big job and living in an apartment. Your decisions impact yourself. You are not responsible for others.
3. Parenthood – Kids bring changes to your life. You’re responsible for another life. Not only are you responsible to take care of that child, you desire to spend time with him or her. You take them to Girl Scouts or little league practice. There is always something going on.
4. Post Children – Once you have children, you always have children. Regardless of how old your children get, you always worry about them. But, once they are out of the house and in their own “Young Adulthood” season of life, you graduate to the “Post Children” season.
Your primary responsibilities are to your spouse (if married) and your profession. You have more time to do the things you want to do. The days of rushing kids from one practice to another are over. In this stage, you may even get lucky enough to have grandchildren to spoil.
5. Retirement – This is the season of life everyone looks forward to. Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t prepare accordingly in our earlier seasons of life. People reach retirement age with ideas of grandeur and suddenly realize Social Security is all the income they have to live on. (This is a post for another day…)
If you save and plan correctly for retirement, you can live the life of your dreams. Your responsibilities can change from working for your future to actually living it.
So why did I describe these five seasons of life? Well, it’s simple. You need to know what season you’re in.
You fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others even though they are in a different season than you. Your boss is in a different season than you. Years spent in the corporate world can lead to greater flexibility and higher income.
Let’s look at my career as an example. I was able and willing to work longer hours when I first started my public accounting career. It was not unusual for me to work until 7 or 8 p.m. every day, including Saturday. Now, however, I have children at home and other priorities that make it so I will not work those types of hours on a persistent basis.
Just last Saturday, I was in the office by 6:30 a.m. and only worked until noon. Many of my co-workers continued working after I left. Now, I would have stayed longer except I had already missed half of my daughter’s volleyball tournament. My season of life, Parenthood, trumped working longer hours.
My younger co-workers may look at me and think, “Why does he get to leave early?” One day, they will do the same thing. Seasons of life are all about our priorities. My priorities will always be my faith and family. Work is a priority but I make it a lower priority than the other two.
That is not to say that I still don’t put in the hours and the effort. I do. Read this post about the Work/Life Balance Conundrum to get a better glimpse into how I manage those priorities.
Have you figured out the season of life in which you reside? It’s pretty simple. The key is to not compare yourself to others. Even if you compare yourself to others in the same season of life, their circumstances will be different.