I love the freshness of a new year; the feeling that so many possibilities lie wide open ahead.  The starting over, the energy, the resolutions.

But if you ask me what my 2010 resolutions and goals are, I’d tell you, “I’m thinking about it.” And that would be the honest answer.  Here is my non-conventional take on it:

1.  Winter is a time for setting not starting goals.
2.  When we identify meaningful personal goals, having a plan toward achieving them is essential for success.
3.  If winter is for reflection, spring is for action.  The planning and preparation that you do in winter, will naturally lead to the energy and focus of acting on your goals come springtime.

Perhaps January 1 comes on the scene too quickly after the rush of the holiday season, but I’ve found many of us halfheartedly repeat “popular” goals for the new year, without much time or reflection given to the process.

Don’t feel pressured to rush this process just because the calendar has turned its page.

Winter is a season of introspection, lower energy, and reflection.  I start the reflection process in January. I use January and February to dig inward, learn from the past year’s lessons, gaze ahead and consider where my energy should be directed.

When I honor myself with time and attention, I am startled at the goals I come up with.

Once I’ve set my goals and aspirations, I put in time to make a plan for achieving them so I can give myself the support and preparation I need to be successful. This action plan generally begins to really ramp up and pick up energy just as spring comes on the scene.   The freshness and new energy of the world around me fuel my commitment.

Where to begin?   This exercise is perfect for exploring what areas of your life may be unbalanced and need more nurturing and attention.

The Circle of Life Exercise

Photo by Lisa

1.  Draw a large circle with 12 spokes.

2.  For each spoke, write in an element that is important to you in your life.   Some elements to consider adding to your circle are career, laughter, fresh air and exercise, creativity, relationships, stable finances, social life, spirituality, home environment, beauty, education, healthy foods, or home cooking.

3.  Consider how satisfied you are with each area in your life.  Probe and ask yourself some questions about each area.  Think of the past year and the ways you did (or didn’t) attend to those parts of your life.

  • Do you have a desire to continue learning and intellectually growing?
  • Has it been a while since you’ve laughed?
  • Are you living on candy and caffeine to get you through the day?
  • When did you last spend time in silence or in prayer?
  • Have you struggled with money and budgeting without addressing it?

4.  Place a dot on each line that represents your relative level of satisfaction.  Putting a dot at the very center, where all spokes come together, means completely UNSATISFIED and the edge of the circle means completely SATISFIED.

5.  Connect your dots and draw your current circle of life.  For most of us, this is a bumpy circle, that visually shows the areas that are “depressed” or undernourished.  See where the greatest imbalances and needs are.   Reflect on it for a while.  These may be the areas that you choose to work into goals and aspirations for the new year.

I use this exercise throughout the year as a benchmark to see how things are going. It is simple, quick and surprisingly effective at revealing what parts of our whole-person are in most need of attention.

If you were to draw your circle of life, what elements would you add?– What areas are you most imbalanced in? Any creative ideas to start “feeding” that element in your life?