Anna Maria Locke

How to cycle sync your business for more alignment and flow

2018Anna Locke

Do you ever notice how you feel like a COMPLETELY different person at certain times of the month?

One week you're full of energy, crushing your to-do list, high on life and setting crazy goals, then the next week you're super sensitive, having existential meltdowns, feel like a complete failure, and on and on.

When you're running your own business, the hormone rollercoaster can feel like a giant struggle and set back.

But what if you could recognize each phase of your cycle, feel empowered and in control instead of crazy, and utilize your cyclical female energy to create more productivity, flow, and success in your business and life?

OH YES!

I am here to tell the tale, my friends!

My Story

A little over two years ago I listened to a podcast interview with integrated nutritionist and hormone specialist Alisa Vitti all about optimizing your hormones to improve every area of your life. At the time, I had been taking the birth control pill for almost a decade and didn’t really think too much about it, but I’d also been focusing on eating healthier and taking care of my body and was starting to wonder if I really needed to flood my system with synthetic hormones every day.

Long story short (you can read the long story here!) I ultimately decided to quit taking the birth control pill in January 2016 and have been getting to know my body all over again ever since.

I’ve been equal parts fascinated to be a woman and frustrated that we aren’t taught how to understand our own bodies.

If we were raised to honor and respect the awesome superpowers we have, I wonder if so many women would struggle with weight, body image, eating disorders, and general low self esteem today?

I wonder what the world would look like if we owned our bodies and the power they contain instead of shaming ourselves?

That's a rabbit hole for a different post...

Because I work for myself as a coach and creative entrepreneur, I have almost complete control over how I spend and delegate my time and energy on a daily and weekly basis, and once my cycle returned with more or less regularity I quickly began to notice that I felt different at various times through the month.

I’d have an almost predictable breakdown and life crisis the week before my period, then other times of the month I’d have an almost manic energy and want to work 16 hours a day.

I started getting curious about hormones and fell down the rabbit hole of learning about feminine energy. This post is a brief and surface level summary of what I've learned so far based on my research and personal experience. My suggested resources are at the end of the post if you'd like to learn more too!

Before we dive in, I'd like to emphasize that I am not a medical professional or expert in anything except my own body. YOUR BODY and YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE are your guides. Take what resonates, leave the rest, and get curious and patient with the process of bringing awareness to your own body right now, no matter what's happening for you. 

What is cycle syncing?

We're taught to think of our menstrual cycle as having our period -- we are either on or off. But really it’s a continuous hormone flux that lasts all month long; constantly happening in the background of your life.

As women, our bodies operate on a cyclical framework as our hormones rise and fall every month. This is really cool, but also can be challenging because the rest of the world and society operates on a linear framework that supports a male’s hormone pattern. (Hello, patriarchy!)

A linear or masculine pattern might look like this.

  • In work: Career trajectory. Strategic plan. Quarterly or annual objectives. Profit/loss. Growth margin.
  • Health and wellness: Nutrition plan. Goal weight. Fitness program. Training schedule.
  • Life: To do list. Chore chart. Weekly schedule. Daily agenda.  Productivity hacks.

Sound familiar?

But as females, our biology operates on a consistently inconsistent pattern driven by our hormone fluctuations each month, which means we can’t expect ourselves to perform or have the same level of energy and focus every single day and week. It's literally against our nature to force ourselves and our lives and business into constant growth!

The more we understand about what’s happening within our bodies, the more we empower ourselves to honor and respect our energy and can learn to work WITH our cycle instead of against it. This unlocks so much power and innate wisdom that allows us to truly grow into our full potential in life and work and flourish along the way! Bye bye, burn out city.

"Cycle syncing" means bringing awareness to your body's natural hormonal cycle, and then using that knowledge to inform your actions and decisions depending on which phase or "season" you're in at the moment. This will support your health and energy while optimizing your unique strengths and feminine power!

Benefits of cycle syncing

  • Avoid burn out

  • Heal fatigue

  • Your whole business and life will flow better!

  • Manage your energy // set boundaries

  • Communicate your needs to create stronger relationships

  • Maximize productivity without micro-managing your life

  • Know WHEN to schedule things like launches for best success

  • Less overwhelm, more focus

  • Achieve sustainable business growth, including seasons of rest

How to track your cycle

The easiest way to track your cycle is to number the days starting with the first day of your period. Record the first day of bleeding as "Day One" and number from there! You can use a notebook, journal, planner, or an app.

To track your energy shifts and really dive into this practice, I love journaling in the morning or evenings. Keep it simple! Every day, track what day of your cycle you’re at and check in with how you’re feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally. Let this be a fun daily ritual to tune in and ground yourself!

+ What does your energy feel like?
+ What does your body feel like?
+ What is your inner voice or inner critic saying?
+ What’s coming up for you today?
+ What do you need?

After a couple of months, you’ll start to notice patterns in your energy, state of mind, and emotions, and this is when you'll really be able to lock into the power of your cycle and use it to predict what's coming and prepare accordingly.
 

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Your inner seasons

A fun way to experience the different phases of your cycle is to think of them as the four seasons. Each cycle, your body flows through a seasonal year. The length of each “season” or phase depends on your personal biology and will probably shift a little bit each cycle, so the best way to identify your own inner seasons is to track your energy for a few months so you can start to recognize patterns or how each phase manifests for you.

We’re all different, so trust YOUR own unique experience over anything you read here or learn from a book! There is no such thing as a perfect cycle, just as nature itself is beautifully imperfect.

Seasons Overview

Winter - Menstrual Phase (approx 5-7 days)
Spring - Follicular Phase (approx 7-10 days)
Summer - Ovulatory Phase (approx 3-4 days)
Autumn - Luteal Phase (approx 10-14 days)

Each season or phase presents unique strengths and superpowers that are available for you to tap into and apply to your business, as well as potential pitfalls to recognize so you can give yourself compassion and grace along the way.

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WINTER

  • Menstrual Phase- approx 5-7 days
  • Hormones - progesterone and estrogen drop
  • Feminine archetype - the wise woman or crone
  • Moon phase - new moon

Overview

Your physical energy will be pretty low so resist the temptation to “push through” as normal with a full workload, exercise, etc. However! Communication between the left and right hemispheres of brain is super strong right now since your hormones are at their lowest, leading to clear intuition and the ability to receive subtle messages of what’s working and not working. I call my period my “vision quest” week because when I intentionally carve out space to just chill, meditate, do gentle yoga, journal, and simply BE, I get crazy awesome intuitive downloads and feel more connected to my greater vision and purpose than ever.

It’s easy for you to meditate now, so carve out time to get quiet and still.

Winter is the best time to:

- Rest! SERIOUSLY. Resist temptation to be productive
- Reflect, set goals and intentions, journal to access deep insights and intuitive hits
- Evaluate biz progress and make course corrections
- Make a plan for the rest of your cycle
- Block off your calendar and take a break from client work, projects, etc.
- Ask for support and help! Can your partner take care of the kids for a night? Can you delegate stuff in your business? Receiving support right now will make you stronger in the long run.

Be careful of:

- The temptation to “push through” or else you’ll be more likely to experience burnout later in your cycle
- Overextending yourself. Practice self compassion!

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SPRING

  • Follicular Phase - approx 7-10 days
  • Hormones - Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) triggered, estrogen rises
  • Feminine archetype - the maiden
  • Moon phase - waxing crescent

Overview

Think about spring - a season of new beginnings, growth, sunshine and light returning after the darkness of winter. After a few days of bleeding, you’ll notice that one day your energy might surge back. You might be feeling clear, energized, excited to tackle new things, outgoing, optimistic, and full of fresh motivation! Think of how you felt as a little girl: enthusiastic, energetic, and sure of yourself.

Over spring into summer, you might notice that you resist “inner quiet work” such as meditation or journaling because it’s hard to focus on yourself as your energy and brain kicks into gear. Go with it and don’t pressure yourself to keep up practices that don’t serve you right now. Figure out what does feel good, and do that!

Spring is the best time to:

- Start a new project
- Get to work on the plans you laid in winter
- Schedule and book calls, appointments, coffee dates, networking events
- Be open to new things

Be careful of:

- Inner critic popping up if you do too much and put yourself out there before you’re ready
- Over-doing it as you feel a burst of energy -- pace yourself!
- Protect your new ideas and projects, don’t launch too soon

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SUMMER

  • Ovulatory Phase - approx 3-4 days long
  • Hormones - Estrogen rises, testosterone surges, luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers egg to release
  • Feminine archetype - the mother
  • Moon phase - full moon

Overview

And after a surge of new energy, we arrive at summer. Ahhhhh. In Chicago, summer means long nights on patios, rooftop bars, picnics, concerts, and enjoying life. Just like the season itself, you’ve arrived at a peak phase in your cycle energetically as you crest the rising tide. You might feel like Superwoman! You’re outgoing, magnetic, social, and focused on the needs of others more than yourself right now. This can be a vibrant time in your business since your communication skills are at their best and your energy is magnetic. As it ovulates, your body is literally saying LET’S MAKE A BABY AND NURTURE THE WORLD! And running a business is a similar process of creativity.

Summer is the best time to:

-  Nurture relationships and connect with your community
- Launch!
- Declare yourself and claim your authority! Tell the world what you do and how you can serve
- Create videos and host workshops or live events
- It’s easy and fun to be visible right now

Be careful of:

- Saying “yes” to too many opportunities … remember your energy will drop soon
- Don’t neglect your self care even though you will be more focused on others
- Feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable if you are more sensitive or introverted, Summer might not be your fave season but remember you are safe!

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AUTUMN

  • Approx 10-14 days long
  • Hormones - Progesterone and estrogen rise, then suddenly drop if your egg isn’t fertilized, triggering your period
  • Feminine archetype - the wild woman or enchantress
  • Moon phase - waning crescent

Overview

After the crest of summer, the seasons change again and we arrive at autumn. The time of completion, change, dropping and shedding what no longer serves you just like the leaves start falling from the trees. Your physical energy probably starts to decline a little, but your creative and mental energy might be quite high. You’re easily triggered, extra sensitive, and your ratio of estrogen:progesterone makes you more aware of details you might not have noticed before. You have zero tolerance for things that don’t feel in alignment, and your inner bullshit meter is buzzing.

This is the season where the Inner Critic lives! Instead of judging yourself, listen to your critical thoughts with curiosity and compassion, and you’ll likely gain deep insight into where you’re holding back, what’s not working, and where you need to shift back into alignment with yourself and your deepest desires. Positive affirmations might not resonate with you right now because your inner critic is quick to call bullshit.

You might experience some mood swings, physical symptoms of PMS or PMDD, and feel like a complete crazy person, but remember COMPASSION COMPASSION COMPASSION! Meet your inner wild woman with grace and love. The world has conditioned us to believe that hormonal, emotional, angry women are dangerous and should be silenced. Choose to rise above that story and let. her. out.

It’s ok to not be happy all the time. Embrace your shadow side.

Autumn is the best time to:

-  Create!
- Channel your energy into juicy content
- Finish projects, de-clutter, prioritize admin tasks
- See what (or who) is  not working in your life. Your tolerance for bullshit is at an all time low
- Give yourself compassion and feel the feels
- Give yourself space for self care

Be careful of:

- Inner critic - use as a guide to identify where you're out of alignment
- Increased sensitivity (avoid confrontation, tracking unsubscribes, social media consumption, hard conversations)
- Consuming too much sugar, caffeine or alcohol
- The existential crisis … it’s normal. You are ok!
- Making big decisions. Journal and braindump what’s coming up for you, meditate on it during winter, and wait a couple weeks to take action in spring!

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If you don't have a natural cycle

So what if you don't have a natural cycle, due to birth control, hormone imbalances, pregnancy, menopause, etc? 

One alternative is to use the phases of the moon to practice cyclical self care.

  • New moon = winter
  • Waxing crescent = spring
  • Full moon = summer
  • Waning crescent = autumn

If you’re on birth control, your hormones won't fluctuate as much and you won't ovulate, but you can still practice cycle syncing by marking the day after last day of bleeding as your "spring" phase and then counting 7 days of spring, 4 days of summer, 12 days of autumn, 5 days of winter.

If you're going through peri-menopause or menopause, be curious and listen to your body. You can use the phases of the moon to practice cyclical self care, or else feel into which season resonates most with you. After you go through menopause, your hormones change and you fully embody the "winter" season of the wise woman. Embrace all the gifts and wisdom you embody!

SURVIVING AND THRIVING IN A LINEAR WORLD

Remember that there's no such thing as a "perfect" cycle and this practice is just that - a practice. Each month will be a little different. Tune into what your body is feeling and experiencing and know that you are the foremost expert on YOU.

Practice awareness, patience, and self compassion.

Remember this is literally a “go with the flow” practice … do not try to micro-manage or control your cycle! Let your body lead. It’s ok to have irregular/MIA cycles. We are human, not robots.

If you're going through a busy season of life or are raising children, remember that cycle syncing and self care in general isn't an "all or nothing" concept. Give yourself just 5 minutes of what you need and remember that every small action counts!


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If you'd like this information in an easy to implement PDF, including a sample month of what it might actually look like to cycle sync your business, I've created a free e-book that you can download here!


WANT TO LEARN MORE?

RESOURCES

BOOKS

APPS

  • Kindara
  • My Flo
  • Clue

Have fun exploring and getting to know your body! If you have any questions or "OMG THIS IS SO COOL" aha moments, I would love to hear from you :) You can email me here!

xo Anna

My deepest thanks and gratitude goes out to the authors, teachers, and mentors who have directly and indirectly guided me along this adventure -- specifically Alisa Vitti, Claire Baker
Alexandra Pope, Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, and Miranda Gray.