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How to make better resolutions with Chinese Medicine

New Year, New Me

Every January brings the promise of a fresh start, but too often it only takes a few months (or weeks) to forget all our well intentioned resolutions. The five element cycle of Chinese Medicine offers a holistic way to consider making resolutions:


Winter is the time of water, when things are quiet, still and calm. The first half of winter (Mid-November to December) was for the letting the dust and clutter of the previous year settle, much like silt settles to the bottom of a pond after being stirred up.

The second half (January to Mid-February) is all about dreaming. What do you want to accomplish in this year? What deep needs must be met? What resources do you have at your disposal? This is not the time to act, just to imagine.


In mid-february, the light begins to change and there is an itchy energy in the air that speaks to the beginning of new life. This is the Wood energy and it will grow and mature from Feb 20th in 2019 until mid-May.

The Wood energy is the general of the body and like a general, its strength lies in planning, preparing, and acting. In the water phase, you've determined your goal. In the wood phase, you begin to pull together all the tools you need to accomplish it and make the first push towards your goal.

'Well begun is half done.' Luckily, Wood's forceful, explosive energy gives you all the strength you need to make good progress on your goals.


Summer is the season of fire. After the initial first push towards your goal, the summer energy encourages you to keep working towards your dream with the abundant extra energy that the longer days and warmer temperatures lend.

At this point, it's important to find the passion for your goal. You should have seen some progress from the spring, now is the time to enjoy the strides you've made and push for even new heights. Finding a community to support you can be a great help at this point.


Late Summer is the time to pause and enjoy everything you've done. You're no longer pushing for new strides, but focused more on keeping the existing habits and cycles moving. Now is the time to really appreciate everything you've accomplished!

It can also be a great time to realize what changes you'll have to make your overall life to keep the goals and resolutions a lifelong habit now that the novelty and accomplishments have worn off.


Fall is the season of metal. Just as the trees shed their leaves and the earth prepares to hibernate for the winter, so to should you take stock of your life. This is the time to close any existing loops and evaluate your existing commitments and habits.

The goal of this season is to cut away everything that is no longer serving you. In part this allows you to rest during the winter with a cleared plate, but it also is going to give you the space to invite new goals, dreams, and challenges into your life for the upcoming Spring.

After this, the cycle repeats again. Goal and resolution making isn't just for the first month of the year, but requires the structure and framework of the entire year to bear fruit.

If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences, share in the comments!

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