Align your intention setting & goal planning with the seasons & moon, and use the energy of these natural cycles to achieve your personal, business, new year and life goals with greater ease. Includes FREE New Year Journal Prompts.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to geek out on goal setting and planning — especially at the start of the New Year.
I start getting excited about it weeks (months?) before New Years Day actually arrives, and it’s honestly one of the things I look most forward to all year (yes, I really am that big a nerd).
So, imagine their surprise when I tell my friends and family that I will NOT be setting goals on New Year’s Day this year. Yep, gasps and looks of grave concern all around.
I haven’t gone off the deep end and given up goal-setting altogether (if that ever happens, call a doctor). I’m just taking a different approach this year.
I’ll still be setting intentions for the year, and I’ll still be breaking them down into 90-day goals like I’ve written about in the past.
But this year, I’ll be aligning my intentions and goals with the seasons.
So, instead of starting my goals and “new year” with the first day of the calendar year and doing my goals quarterly (Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, October 1), I’ll be setting Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall goals.
I’m SO EXCITED to tell you about this, so read on if you want to learn more about this seasonal approach to goal-setting and its benefits.
You can also download my free journal prompts worksheet below to help you prepare for your New Year intention and goal setting.
the benefit of intention setting with the seasons
Intuitively, I’ve always known that each season has its own energy that goes far beyond the change in weather. I also know that it has an effect on my energy.
Even here in Florida, where we don’t have “proper” seasons, I can still feel the energy shift from one season to the next.
But it’s just been in the past year that I’ve started exploring how I can live more in tune with that energy, and how I might leverage it to help me achieve my goals.
This isn’t a new concept, just a largely forgotten one. It’s actually an ancient practice. Back in the day, when we lived off the land, didn’t have electricity, etc., we all had to be attuned to the energy of Nature’s cycles and rhythms, and adjust our lives accordingly.
Today, with all our modern conveniences, it’s really easy to become disconnected from the earth’s natural cycles. But, that doesn’t mean we aren’t still affected by the seasonal energy, or that we can’t use it to our benefit.
Here’s a quick overview of the energy for each season:
Winter: rest, dreaming, manifesting, inward-focused energy, nesting
Spring: rebirth, new growth, balance, creativity
Summer: abundance, growth, action, outward-focused energy
Autumn: gratitude, “harvesting,” celebrating accomplishments and blessings, the final push to complete things before winter, clearing away the old to make room for the new
Looking at the Winter energy, it seems kind of crazy that so many of us (including me) have been killing ourselves trying to set and implement energetic and action-oriented goals at the beginning of January, like getting in shape, losing weight, launching a business, etc., when all we really want to do is eat a lot, fatten ourselves up, and hibernate like the bears. Not exactly setting ourselves up for success there!
I’m not saying we should all just eat a bunch and pack on the pounds at the beginning of the year (tempting though….), but maybe January (and Winter in general) isn’t the best time to launch an intense exercise program or new business initiative. Maybe it’s a time to work on goals that are more introspective and inward-focused, like creating a more positive mindset or practicing gratitude.
Or, maybe it’s a time to rest up, reflect, and prepare to launch those high-energy, outward-focused types of goals and projects with the growth energy of Spring.
And that’s what I’ll be doing this year! Planning my year and goals with the natural energies and cycles of the seasons.
My Seasonal Intention Setting Process
Before I share my process for aligning my intentions and plans with the seasons, I just want to say there’s no ‘one right way’ to go about doing this. It’s a creative process, and by working within the framework of the seasons and their energies, you can customize it to be all your own.
So with that said, here’s the process I’ve created for setting my intention and goals with the seasons.
First, for the purpose of setting “new year goals,” my New Year will begin on the Winter Solstice, which is the first day of Winter (December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere).
For me, starting my year with the beginning of Winter feels right. But for you, it might feel more aligned to start the year with a different season, or on your birthday. One of the great things about aligning your intention setting with the seasons is the freedom it gives you to make a fresh start four times a year. So, do whatever makes the most sense for you!
Unlike my New Year’s Days of years past, I’m not aiming to have my goals mapped out and ready to implement by the first day of the year (in this case, Winter Solstice). Instead, this first day of my new year will mark the beginning of my intention and goal setting process.
(UPDATE: After writing this post, I started learning about the Native American Medicine Wheel, which resonates with me a lot more than the Celtic-based Wheel of the Year. Based on what I’ve read, the Medicine Wheel starts the year with the Spring season, and I’ve decided to follow this model and start my new year with the Spring Equinox. I’ll still be following the same process outlined below, I’ll just be marking the beginning of my year with the Spring Equinox instead of the Winter Solstice.)
As much as I love goal setting and planning, there’s always so much going on at the end of the year and holidays that I inevitably feel rushed and behind on creating my goals. So I’m really looking forward to taking a more relaxed and mindful approach to setting my intentions and goals.
To do that, I’m using the entire Winter season (about 13 weeks) to focus on my intentions and goals. I like to work with lunar cycles and energy (more on that in an upcoming post!), so I’ll be using the three lunar cycles of Winter to break up my season into three distinct periods, each with its own theme and focus.
The lunar cycles don’t perfectly line up with the dates of Winter (just like the months don’t), but it’s close. Winter starts on December 21, and the first day of the first new lunar cycle of Winter (the day of the New Moon) starts on December 26.
the first lunar cycle — rest, reflect & dream
The first lunar cycle marks the beginning weeks of Winter, which is a time for quiet, stillness, and rest. This period has hygge written all over it!
The theme for this lunar cycle is rest, restore, and reflect. This is a time to rest up after the completion of a full year (ending with the end of Autumn) and restore your physical, mental, and spiritual energy.
It’s also a time to reflect on the past year — what went well, what didn’t, what were the wins and challenges, lessons learned, blessings to be grateful for, etc.
I think it’s really helpful to review the past year before setting intentions and goals for a new year. It’s important to celebrate successes and blessings (big and small), mourn losses, and learn from what we did right as well as our mistakes, so we don’t carry them into another cycle.
In an ideal world, I’d be taking time off from my business for this entire lunar cycle, going to a cozy cabin somewhere for a little R & R time or to a wellness retreat, spending lots of time in nature, unplugging, and basically just doing whatever feels restful and restorative to me. Unfortunately, my business isn’t at a point where this is possible YET, but one day!
Until that day comes, during this cycle I will take a shorter holiday from my business, limit the number of new work projects I take on, and incorporate restful and restorative activities as much as possible.
This is also a time for dreaming. Dreaming about your vision for your life and what you want to have, do, and be in the coming year. This is no-holds barred, BIG dreaming . . . like anything is possible. Winter is a powerful time for manifesting!
You might also like: 5 Simple Ways to Prepare for the New Year
the second lunar cycle — clarity, set intentions, plan
During the second lunar cycle, the focus will be on gaining clarity, intention setting, and planning.
Now that you’re feeling rejuvenated in body, mind, and spirit, and have a dreamy vision for your life, it’s time to get clear on exactly what you want to achieve in the coming year and how to make it happen.
Using any insights gained from your reflecting during the first lunar cycle, think through what progress you intend to make toward your vision in the year ahead. These will become your intentions for the year.
This is also a time to determine what you’ll need to do, what resources you’ll need, what skills you might need to learn or enhance, and what you’ll need to give up or say no to in order to make your intentions your reality.
Then it’s time to create an actual written plan for achieving your intentions and goals. (Note: I generally refer to intentions as the big, visionary things you want for yourself, like how you want to feel, and goals as more measurable things you’ll achieve as part of your intentions.)
Since we’re focusing on seasonal goals, you’ll want to make a plan for Spring, listing the goals and action steps you plan to accomplish in Spring to create your intention. But you might also want to “assign” other intentions and goals to other seasons of the year.
Related Reading: How to Choose Your Word of the Year
the third lunar cycle — prepare, gather, get organized
For the third lunar cycle, your focus will be on preparing to implement your plan in the Spring.
You’ll spend these last few weeks of winter preparing, gathering resources you’ll need, putting systems in place, clearing out anything that will be a distraction or obstacle, getting organized, and taking care of as many of the mundane necessities as possible (like preparing your taxes, for example), so that they don’t slow down your Spring momentum.
And with this, you’ll be prepared for Spring, which is a time for planting the seeds of your intentions and nurturing them as they grow. It’s a time of creativity, new beginnings, renewed energy, and growth. This is where you’ll really start to take action and gain momentum on the intentions and goals you set for yourself during your Winter retreat!
If this way of planning your intentions and goals resonates with you, I’ve created a goal setting planner to walk you through the process. You can see what it looks like and get more details here on my Etsy shop.
By working with the natural energies and cycles of the seasons and the moon, mirroring in our lives what’s happening in nature, I truly believe we can make our intentions and dreams a reality with less struggle and more ease.
Of course, working with the Winter energy doesn’t mean we can all just rest and daydream all day about our vision and goals, since most of us will still have work to do and responsibilities to tend!
Plus, the timing of your goals may be such that you have to take action on them during the Winter. And that’s all fine! In whatever you’re doing, just try to make some space for those restful, restorative activities, and make time for a little dreaming.
I’m really excited to experiment with this new approach, and I’ll be writing more about it over the coming year.
I’m sure I’ll experience my fair amount of FOMO when New Year’s Day comes and there’s lots of talk and excitement about 2020 goals, but I have to admit I won’t miss the pressure of feeling like I have to have my intentions, goals, and plans in place by New Year’s Day. It’ll be nice to take a more mindful and relaxed approach to it this year.
So I’d love to know . . . what are your thoughts on this concept of intention setting and planning your goals and year with the seasons? What are your rituals and routines around new year goal setting? Comment below and let me know, and be sure to download the free printable worksheets if you want to give this process a try!