“Wisdom consists in knowing one’s place in any given cycle, and what kinds of action (or restraint of action) are appropriate for that phase.” – Richard Heinberg
The natural world gives us good cues about cycles. The change of seasons, tides and phases of the moon are among the reliable processes that our ancestors were attuned to for timing activity and deriving inspiration and support. In contrast, our contemporary, technology-driven culture leaves most of us barely aware of even the 24-hour cycle of night and day, as we constantly strive to fit in as many conscious hours as possible. Could it be that if we were more in sync with the natural cycles of sun and moon that we would be happier and even more productive in our work lives?
Take the phases of the moon. Our work life may not linearly follow the moon phases every month, but there is a lot of wisdom in taking a phased approach to the flow of our work lives. Use the descriptions below to identify which part of the cycle you are in – it can help you be kind to yourself, maximize your energy and make informed choices.
Initiation (New Moon) – This could be starting a search for a new career, beginning a new job or meeting a new networking contact for the first time. New beginnings often carry some excitement as well as uncertainty. Doubt, hope and worry could also be present. Whatever you’re feeling, an initiation brings opportunity – the path has not been laid and choices abound.
Initiation actions you can take to maximize this phase:
- Set a clear intention about what you are embarking on. In fact, rather than setting hard and fast goals, it can feel more accessible and sustainable to set intentions or aims, as shown in this very straightforward article.
- Ask a mentor about how they have handled initiation cycles in their career.
- Keep a list of your talents and skills handy to remind you of what you’re good at – sometimes we need a boost of confidence when on road we haven’t traveled! The StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment is great for this.
Course Correction (First Quarter) – After a new beginning, you can benefit from checking to see if the course we’ve set is the one we want to be on. Is the industry or role the right one for us given what we’re learning in our networking and research? Do you want to change direction, as your job is less fulfilling than it used to be? Did an interview go less well than you would have liked?
Course Correction actions you can take to maximize this phase:
- Return to your intention – how are things unfolding? What results are you getting?
- If it’s time to let go of a role or industry because it’s not a good fit, it might be time to take an action to improve your situation or leave it.
- If the path is the right one, what is the next step for further growth?
Fruition (Full Moon) – This is a time of excitement and relief. Your hard work has paid off. The result might be landing a job, a conversation where you are affirmed in your purpose, or simply a call back for a second interview. While the outcome of your intention may look different from what you expected, there is a sense of completion in this part of the cycle.
Fruition actions you can take to maximize this phase:
- Celebrate! Take time to acknowledge the effort you put in and feel the natural high.
- Relax into the phase and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Reflection (Last Quarter) – This is a time to look back at your experience and see what there is to learn. You could be completing a large project, ending a job or adjusting to news you didn’t get a job you had hoped to land. What are you bringing forward? What are you letting go of? This could also be a very fruitful time to rest.
Reflection actions you can take to maximize this phase:
- Take stock – what worked and what didn’t in this process?
- If there are things that are undone to feel complete, make a plan to do them.
- Allow space for the new season to emerge – take advantage of quiet time and regenerate.
As a result, when you feel “out of sync” it might be useful to ask yourself, “what phase am I in?” Using moon phases as but one example of natural cycles, re-read through the above four descriptions and determine what phase you may be in. Per Richard Heinberg’s quote, you can get back in sync by taking actions… “(or restraint of action) appropriate for that phase.” As we increasingly attune to the natural ebb and flow of nature’s cycles, our career and our larger life comes into greater balance.