Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of summer.
Solstice comes from the Latin words meaning “sun” and “to stop.”
The Summer Solstice is one of the four major turns that the Earth makes as it rotates around the sun, and a natural point to pause and reassess our projects and priorities, as well as our habits of thought and behavior.
I have learned that taking these pauses at the turns of the Earth and at other key points of the year help us live on purpose by giving us an opportunity to reassess and realign.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. I still often feel the guilt about being “lazy” when I pause to nurture myself and take time to reflect rather than act. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. It’s hard to get off the treadmill of doing.
A Time to Connect With Your Purpose
Not by accident, today is also the International Day of Purpose, a day created as part of the Living #OnPurpose movement, which encourages living with intention. The outcome for today’s Day of Purpose is to encourage each other to reflect on the power of our purpose, engage in purposeful behavior, and share those stories with the world.
Here is a guide to help you engage in purposeful behavior on this Summer Solstice and in the coming days (nature doesn’t have strict deadlines).
A Time for Creation and Action
The energy of Summer is fire. Fire energy is active; lots of doing and creating.
At the Summer Solstice, we honor our lineage as creators.
In our lives, we are constantly creating and maintaining careers, jobs, projects, routines, relationships, emotional and mental states, hobbies, visions, dreams, etc.
Summer brings an abundance of options and activities. We want to do it all, it when we try to squeeze it all in, life can feel harried and hectic. It is normal to experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, overload, frustration, fatigue, and even shame as we try to do All. The. Things.
Summer aligns with my natural tendency to go-go-go all the time without stopping.
One reason why I write and teach so much about the power of the pause is because I constantly need to remind myself of its importance.
But we don’t have to fall into the pattern of chaos. We can prevent ourselves from spiraling in overwhelm by pausing to realign with our purpose, our deepest values and true desires.
This pause is a time to ask
- What do I want to create?
- What projects are calling to me?
- What are the things I want to do?
- What is still aligned?
- What is no longer aligned?
- Am I creating consciously?
Maybe it’s something that was in your vision for this year. Or maybe it is something you hadn’t previously considered.
The Fire of Destruction
Just as fire creates, it also destroys.
Our culture has an uneasy relationship with the idea of destruction, but destruction is simply part of the process of creation. We cannot have one without the other.
Every creation is simultaneously an act of destruction. Every act of destruction is also an act of creation — even if the only thing created is the space in which something new can emerge.
Two places we can apply the energy of destruction:
(1) What No Longer Fits?
One reason I don’t jump on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon in January is that our values and vision are not static.
As we engage in life, each experience brings new ideas that shape what we desire. Goals and desires can change.
Many achievers get caught in the goal tunnel, blindly pursuing a goal long after their desires shift.
These quarterly turns of the Earth are the rest stops on the road trip of our year. They give us the opportunity to assess what has changed for us, where we are headed, and whether we still want to go there.
At this pause, we can ask:
- What projects and outcomes no longer fit with my vision?
- Am I nurturing or pursuing something that no longer serves me?
- What can I release to create space for something new?
What is a “Should”?
One easy place to let go is of anything you are doing that is a should or that you are doing to meet the expectations of others.
It is easy to get pulled into the trance of shoulds — to believe that we should do certain things to get the results we desire. Or even that we should desire certain results in the first place.
The world is filled with people who want to tell us what we should do and how we should do it.
When you allow others to create expectations for what you need to do or who you need to be, you destroy your ability to pursue what’s truly aligned for you.
(I hadn’t planned to write that, but it’s a perfect example of how all creation entails destruction.)
As you pause to reflect, consider:
- Am I pursuing what I truly desire?
- What outcome did I set only because I believe I should want that result?
- What am I pursuing to meet the expectation or standard of a parent, teacher, mentor, friend, or community?
A Time to Honor the Light
Summer solstice, as the longest day of the year, is a time to honor the light: both the external light and our connection to the sun and the Earth, and our own inner light.
Honoring our inner light is difficult for many of us. It’s easier to look to a mentor or teacher for the wisdom we seek. I’ve often found myself caught up in a belief I should do something a certain way because a trusted mentor advocates that way.
Part of my path has been to recognize that any prescription that any person gives is based on that person’s belief systems and values. No way is right for everyone.
I’m learning to find that place within me where I can, on one hand, sincerely admire and respect my teachers and see the value in their methods and, at the same time, recognize that my way is no less valuable just because it differs.
Natalia Kuna reminds us that
The summer solstice is a celebration of the return to light, and it so powerfully reminds us of the light within each of us and the full potential of our individuated as well as united light…. It is about awakening, or reaching enlightenment, as an omnipotent symbol of ascension and the ultimate triumph of light over darkness.
If that sounds a little too “woo-woo” for you, stick with me.
My inner light shines brightest when I integrate the spiritual with the practical.
Practicality of Purpose
I’ve studied productivity from many angles, and I’ve tested many productivity systems. The only universal truth I’ve found is that we are most productive when we are working toward an outcome, and in a way, that is aligned with our purpose and our values.
Stated differently, we awaken our full potential when we identify and align with our purpose.
Purpose doesn’t need to be this big, esoteric “what’s my life’s purpose?” question. It could simply mean that you know the purpose for why you are doing something.
Purpose is the difference between habits and rituals: unconscious reactions versus intentional actions. It is what motivates you, and what gives your work meaning.
When we create from a place of true desire and intention, in alignment with our personal purpose, values and standards, we access greater energy and momentum.
At the Summer Solstice, we make time to honor the external light of the sun, and the inner light within. This is the time to pause and ask:
- What do I desire to do?
- What’s my purpose?
- What are my values?
- What are my standards?
- What outcomes are aligned with my purpose and values?
As you pause to reflect and realign today, honor your inner light by considering your plans and projects in light of your purpose.
And if you didn’t have time to do it today, it’s ok. Nature doesn’t have strict deadlines. It’s never too late to take a pause so you can live a life of intention and purpose.