The Harvest Periods of Life

During harvest season a farmer works about 18 hours per day. From sun up to sun-down they are sweating it out maximizing their day as much as possible in order to take advantage of this rare opportunity to capitalize on all that is given to them. When the harvest comes they can’t be sick. Being tired isn’t an acceptable excuse. And not working hard is not an option for each moment of procrastination or laziness will be penalized in the form of losing thousands of dollars in lost assets.

The same is true with accountants, that when March comes around they might make 75% of their income for the year within 6 weeks. I know of high school and college speakers who will do as much as 90% of their year’s business during the months of August and September because that is when schools are all having their orientation. The students of those same schools all have finals weeks. And if you’re an athlete then you know that once playoff season rolls around there is no excuse that serves for a legitimate justification for missing the game. For all of these professions it is HARVEST TIME.

Many professions have some sort of a harvest period. It’s a natural state of imbalance for a given period of time that is necessary to capitalize on the opportunities and benefits of that time. So we understand the concept professionally but sometimes we don’t apply it to our personal lives. And sometimes in our lives we end up over committing to everything all at once in a feeble attempt in trying to be everything to everyone; all the time. We put ourselves in impossible situations and create tremendous anxiety and stress by not allowing for harvest seasons.

Here’s what’s interesting. I actually think you can get pretty darn close being everything to everyone; we just can’t be it all the time. I coach, work with, and study people who do it all the time. They are effective in lots of different areas and to lots of different people. The way they do it though is in working in patterns that resemble harvest periods. As I’ve said before most of us have a skewed understanding of balance.

Balance isn’t equal time spread across equal priorities. It’s appropriate time spread across critical priorities.

There are “harvest periods” in every area of your life. When your new baby is born your life is probably going to imbalance in that direction. If you are starting a new company you might be unbalanced for a while (especially if it’s your own company). If you are in a new relationship, hobby, or endeavor you might have to spend more time at first to make it work and guess what that means –  you’ll be imbalanced! No problem.

Instead of looking at our lives as a bunch of canisters that need to be filled equally all the time (which is exhausting) think more of transferring time and energy back and forth between each of the areas during relevant harvest seasons.

We could probably organize our lives to have mini-harvest seasons during each day, too. Focused prospecting time at work, if you’re in sales, might not take 8 hours; we might be able to do it effectively in 3 if we’re uninterrupted and then dedicate the rest of the time to follow up. Connecting with your spouse might not mean 3 hours every night; you might be able to build a stronger relationship in 1 meaningful night a week.

I know for me much of the time I’ve spent with people in my life isn’t always true “quality time.”  My hypothesis is that aimless meandering around the house, or mindless engagement in a tv program together might not be worth as much as focused time getting to know each other over dinner with no other distractions.

Maybe a mindset of “harvest time” and focused “quality time” for defined periods of length would enable us to get more done effectively and release a lot of stress from impossible expectations that we’ve placed on ourselves. What do you think?

See you in the stairwell,

Rory Vaden
Take the Stairs – Success means doing things you don’t want to do

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