I won’t lie, I love the fresh start of a new year. I love how empty my calendar is in January. The holidays give a nice pause, past which it is hard to schedule business as usual. Every year I too long to use this fresh start as a marking point for making a change, but I have learned that this kind of radical 180° turn rarely produces lasting change.

A number of years ago I stumbled on a system that works much better for me in actually achieving my dreams for the year. This process hinges on an ancient system called The Wheel of the Year.

The Wheel of the Year is a series of 8 earth-based holidays that follows the progression of the seasons through out the year. The New Year as we know it marks the end of the Yule Festival (or the 12 days of Christmas as many of us know it). This time of year is known for being a time of quiet reflection. I time for suspending plans, and conserving resources as we cozy up in the dark belly of winter.

Although New Year’s day does mark a shift from this holiday time, back into normal life, the energy of deep winter isn’t really conducive to making long-term plans.

Once I learned this system, I figured out why my New Year’s resolutions never worked. As I explained in this article, you can’t plant seeds in the snow. Winter is a great time for mulling over seed catalogs and dreaming about your future garden, but we really have to wait until spring before we know when the best time to do the actual planting is.

The same is true for life. I have found that if I wait just a little bit, and use the winter to continue dreaming about the possibilities for my year, it becomes so much easier to make lasting changes come spring.

For me the first major shift comes in February with a holiday known as Imbolc or Candlemas. This holiday usually coincides with the rising of the sap, and the noticeable lengthening of the daylight.

At Imbolc I set my intentions for the year, and make commitments to myself about what I want to say yes to this year. Then when the spring equinox comes around I am more than ready to take advantage of the rising spring energy and I have momentum working with me, instead of against me. Then I have the rest of the holidays on the Wheel of the Year to tap into the powerful energies of the year. At Beltane I connect to my passion, at Litha I let myself blast through any limitations holding me back, at Lammas I tune in to the energy of recieving, and at Mabon I focus on gratitude. By Samhain I am ready to release anything for the year that didn’t serve me, and at Yule I can truly rest and recharge for the next year.

I’m not saying you should never make a resolution on the New Year. But if you do, see it more as a possibility, not a rigid regime you have to impose on yourself.

Want to learn more about the Wheel of the Year and how you can use these 8 powerful days to transform your life? Join me for a free webinar on January 30th. Information and registration here.