There is a principle I have found to be true in all of life and leadership. It is a bit mystical and a bit ethereal, but it governs our lives and we are wise to work with it rather than against it.

Our lives progress in seasons. Now, by this I do not mean the obvious physical and psychological seasons of human life. I don’t mean childhood, adolescence, or middle age. I mean seasons that are shorter and more defining.

A season is a period of time defined by certain conditions. It is not measured by the clock. It is not actually measured at all. It is defined. It is conditioned. The seasons I am talking about are, for example, the season during which you live in Dallas and work for Smith & Co. You have two small children and you are getting a master’s degree. Or, you are the CEO for Jones & Co and your children are in college while you build the house in Richmond. Or you have launched the startup, your spouse is finishing school and money is tight but you live on vision. There are a thousand variations.

The art of life and leadership is that you know the season you are in, know what your priorities are within that season, and—this is the principle I’m emphasizing—that you know you won’t progress to a new and better season until you live out the season you are in fully and well.

Your seasons are determined by a combination of your obligations, priorities, and commitments. What have you promised to do? What needs are obvious? What are the wise priorities you have determined for this period of your life? This is what defines a season.

If you want to progress to ever newer and greater seasons, fulfill the season you are in and fulfill it well. You may have your eye on a better company to work for, but work well for the company you serve now. You may dream of a better day for you and your spouse, but that better day comes by doing the things needed for a good marriage now. You may dream of a greater day for your leadership, so lead well now in the role you have. Fulfilling your current season is the key to advancement, progress, and increase.

Most people live unaware of the existence of seasons. They don’t recognize them and certainly don’t apply their definitions to their lives. This means they don’t squeeze the most meaning and depth out of their lives and they don’t usually progress well. They also don’t live their best lives because they don’t know what their best lives would be. They aren’t self-aware enough to know where they are and where they are going.

Let me urge you to do this. Sit quietly, perhaps with your spouse, and make a list of the factors that define this current season of your life. What are the obligations, priorities, and commitments that shape this period in your life? Don’t make it all business either. Remember that rest, recreation, romance, exercise, and social life are all part of a healthy season. Then, once you’ve made your list, ask yourself if everything belongs in this season. Have you taken on too much? Cut and fine tune as needed.

When you are done, you should have before you the definitions of a season that is livable. So, live it fully. Fulfilling this season will lead to your next and greater season. This is a truth of life.

That’s it. Have a good weekend.