What will your 2021 harvest be?
2020 has been… unexpected – to say the least. It continues to be so.
I’m normally upbeat – but I’ve been through a few weeks of feeling a huge sense of loss – unable to tap into my normally positive spirit.
From chatting with friends I can see that I’m not alone. Are you feeling that way too?
Your experience of this year may depend on where you live, but we’re all having to cope with uncertainty.
We’re constantly having to make new kinds of decisions and find new ways forward, whether it’s for our work, our home life, our relationships, our own wellbeing or our future plans.
It can all take its toll on how we feel.
I’ve needed to step back for a moment, to think about what I’m doing, how I’m using my time and what I really love. It’s been a really good process.
As I write this, it’s harvest time in the northern hemisphere, and it got me thinking about the process leading up to harvest each year and the gathering of ripe crops from the fields.
Harvest is a metaphor for life
In a garden we are always in a process of planting and gathering. We plant seeds, we wait, we delight at those first few little shoots of life coming through the soil. We nourish and nurture those fragile plants, weed and prune out what’s not needed, water them and watch those seedlings dramatically transform and grow.
If the conditions are good, we’re rewarded by an abundant harvest of food or flowers.
It doesn’t always happen as we expect – some things grow well, and some things don’t. Some seeds sprout enthusiastically, and some don’t sprout at all. There may also be barren patches in a garden that need re-seeding or extra care.
Nothing can grow well if the soil isn’t good
We need to prepare the soil, nourish it well, dig it over – and we need to do that in advance, straight after each harvest.
To continue the metaphor, 2020 has given us a different kind of soil, and we may not have been able to grow the things we expected. We may have had more shade than sunshine. We may feel overwhelmed or exhausted by it all. The soil that normally keeps our roots steady is different. The foundation has changed.
None of us knows what’s ahead, but we can at least prepare the soil as best we can for the coming year and decide what we want to grow – even if we have to take a different route to achieve it.
We may also have to grow things that are different to normal because our soil is different. But our own personal ‘planting’ for the coming year needs to take place now.
It’s time to decide what we want for 2021
I’ve always found it amazing how a tiny seed or bulb can turn into a magnificent plant, and that flowers can regenerate through the harshest winters and retain the capacity to break through frozen ground again in the spring – with defiance and purpose.
They do it without knowing what’s ahead.
Even in these times of uncertainty, we can still plan. If it feels as though you have a million things on your mind right now, and you feel overwhelmed or it’s hard to see ahead, try this:
9 tips to jumpstart next year
Take a large piece of paper and do a braindump
1. Write down all the things in your head – all the things you’re currently working on, fixing, planning, learning, sorting out, creating, stressing about, enjoying, hoping for – everything. It might include things like fix the bathroom window, apply for a new job, start learning Italian, find a new carer for your elderly mother, take a trip to South America, finish your accounts, get the car serviced, do more art…
2. Include the things you feel you have to do (your job, maybe?) and also include all the things you really love to do.
3. Include all the things that you’ve started but not finished, everything you want to start but haven’t yet, everything in your regular schedule, everything you’ve dreamed of doing but haven’t done yet, all the things you’d like to contribute to in your local community or elsewhere – everything.
4. Just get it all out and keep going until you can’t think of anything else. The idea is to clear your head and get it all onto paper. You might want to do this over several days (or more), to allow everything to surface.
Once that’s done, imagine that you have just 12 months left of your life
Imagine you have just one more harvest.
Doing this isn’t to be morbid, but instead it’s a way of focusing your mind on what you really love.
5. Find a coloured pen or pencil (a vibrant colour is good) and circle all the things you would really want to have done by the end of the 12 months. Don’t think about how you might do them, just listen to what your heart really wants to do.
6. Now take another colour and cross out all the things on your paper that are really not important any more – given your new 12-month focus. Cross out the things that drain you or drag you down. Don’t think about money at this point; if your current job drains you, cross it out.
7. If you’re not sure whether to cross something out and, in the real world, you might actually want to do it in, say, two years’ time, cross it out anyway – but write ‘later’ next to it.
It’s often helpful to take this process forward over several days. Think about what really lights you up inside, what makes you want to get up in the morning, what energises and enthuses you. There’s a good chance that what you personally love to do and love creating can also inspire and help others too.
8. Of the things you’ve crossed out, what could you stop doing immediately? What could you say no to right now? What would help simplify your life? There will be things you’ve crossed out that you still have to do – like your tax and accounts, for example. Make a mark against those things – even if you don’t enjoy them. How could you make them easier?
9. Of the things you’ve circled – the things you love – which ones could turn into an income stream? Which ones could you do more of this week? Which ones might also help bring change in the world?
There’s more to think about in all this, of course, and income is an important issue, but these 9 tips to jumpstart next year can help you start to map out what 2021 could bring. It can start a powerful process of being able to plant new things – things that matter – and weed out the things that don’t fulfil you any more.
Having the 12-month timeframe can really help focus the mind in finding our next steps forward.
As individuals, it’s not unusual to feel powerless during times such as now, but checking in with what we love in this way can be powerful – and help us all make next year’s harvest a good one.