Like many people, I’m well versed in what it takes to perform with maximum energy and focus. I’ve read all the advice about waking up at dawn for a seated meditation and some journaling before pulling on the activewear (handily laid out from the night before) to knock over a workout before settling in for a nourishing breakfast.
By the time you show up for a 9am work start, you’re meant to be clear-headed and full of energy. In reality, my 6am alarm is to the tune of “Muuuummmmm” and the rest of the dawn timeslot is spent in a flurry of porridge making, porridge splatter cleaning and toothbrush cajoling.
If you’re in the life stage that involves a lot of playing with dolls, it’s time to embrace it rather than chase what you used to have.Credit:Justin McManus
As much as I would love to start my day with the healthy rituals that experts promise will clean the slate for a motivated day, wellness coach Lyndall Mitchell’s mantra “ages and stages” mentally repeats, as I remind myself that my particular age/stage is tipped towards heavy-duty caregiving.
And while I envy older friends who regularly run 10km, hold down impressive jobs and entertain in beautiful homes free of fingerprint grime, they too look at me longingly, aching for a time when their two-year-old would wrap her arms around their neck and whisper “I lub you”.
The fact is, we’re in different life chapters. As much as we might yearn for more time, more money or more heartstring-tugging, Mitchell, founder of Aurora Spa, says the thing that separates her most content clients is the simple strategy of embracing the season they’re in.
“The clients that I see really thriving in the different chapters are those that can lean into these chapters with mindful intention,” she says.
“When you acknowledge that you are in these different stages, you can be more present and enjoy them, versus wishing they were over. Struggling against [your present life chapter] is what can cause the frustration and be more draining than it needs to be.”
Maybe your season is currently tipped towards socialising, adventuring, career building, caregiving or retirement. Clarity and mindset coach Hana Jung says there’s a lot of value in acknowledging your capacities in any given period.
“Be aware of what is available to you right now in terms of energy, time and resources and consider how you could use what you have to support the life that you currently have,” she says.
“A lot of people never upgrade their self-identity when they shift into a new season.”
So if a newborn is keeping you up all night, leaning into this chapter might mean temporarily shelving half-marathon training or dialling back the socialising for a spell. Or if you’ve just started a demanding new job, this chapter might benefit from hunkering down and un-following your Mediterranean-trotting mates.
“Recognise that stages are temporary. The kids won’t always be as demanding, your income might fluctuate by life season,” Jung says. “We’re all going through our own separate cycles and to compare ourselves to others is just a recipe for disaster and shame.”
Jung says there’s value in reflecting on past seasons and considering the contribution they’ve made to your current life.
“Sometimes you almost have to ‘break up’ with that old version of yourself so that you are mentally and emotionally able to catch up with what’s happening around you,” she says.
“Trust that each season brings its own lessons, gifts and challenges. It’s not better or worse – it’s just different, and you unveil a new layer of yourself each time.”
Jung believes our capacity can also fluctuate throughout each year. “I learn a lot by observing nature – plants are not in bloom all the time, and animals don’t hunt and mate year-round. There’s some seasonality to it, based on hormonal flows and access to resources like water and sun,” she says.
“For me, I’ve noticed the colder seasons are a time for slowing down and reflecting, and I tend to cut down on work hours. As spring comes, there’s a surge of creative energy for working on major projects and socialising.”
Whether it’s bookmarking a bucket-list adventure for five years’ time or plotting a career move to tackle when you have more capacity, Mitchell says it can be comforting to consider the coming chapters when you’re feeling a bit stuck.
“With clients I coach we work on outlines of chapters in advance so we can start mapping out a general direction [so they] can see that the chapter that they are in is not forever,” she says.
And when you’re in a time-constricted life season, she makes the case for tiny habits to keep your wellbeing ticking.
“I love the work of behavioural scientist BJ Fogg who talks about [introducing] tiny habits like reading one page of your novel every night, walking around one block or doing one push-up [attached to] habits you already do each day,” she says.
“When we try and get everything done without allowing for the season in our life, we can reach burnout.”
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