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The Self-Discovery Digest

by Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh
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February 2011 Archives

It is winter in the northern hemisphere and many animals are deep in hibernation. Hibernation is a protective state that helps them make it through a time when food is scarce and weather conditions are potentially dangerous. It gives them some respite before the busy spring season of creating a new home, finding or reuniting with a mate, and parenting a new brood of offspring. Although a period of limited activity, hibernation is an important part of the cycle of life.

Humans can also benefit from a period of quiet and calm in which they can recharge. However, unlike our animal brethren, we can become stuck in a hibernation state (Winter). We find ourselves in a holding pattern, stagnating rather than resting, dithering rather than carefully preparing for the time of action soon to come (Spring). Animals instinctively know when it's time to emerge from their dens. We can overlook or even ignore that little voice telling us to move on and get back out in the sunshine. Luckily, what we may lack in instinctual awareness, we can make up for in self-awareness. We have the gift of self-reflection at our disposal, allowing us to recognize when we are dragging our feet. Here are a few suggestions to help you wake up from a winter's sleep:

Do something. Don't wait for the perfect plan or the ideal opportunity - it doesn't exist. There is almost nothing that once started, cannot be altered and you often won't know what needs to be changed until you have taken some action. If you miss the mark a little, that's OK. You are learning from experience and taking action.

Break goals down into manageable pieces. If you are stuck because what you'd like to achieve feels too overwhelming, try breaking it down into smaller steps. Completing these steps will move you toward your goal and at the same time boost your sense of self-efficacy.

Reach out to others. Having a supportive environment can make all the difference in whether you feel energized and enthused about life. The method you choose for reaching out - making a phone call, joining a support group or discussing your plans over dinner with significant others - isn't nearly as important as making the decision to enlist assistance and encouragement.

Focus on the positive. Take an inventory of what's going well and how you might do more of it. Celebrate your accomplishments and explore them for ideas about the circumstances and people who help you to do your best work and be your best self.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 35
Are you feeling "sleepy" or stuck? Are there areas of your life that haven't had the attention they deserve? Is it time for a wake-up call? Commit to doing something within the next week, no matter how small, to get moving on the things in your life that need nurturing. Make an effort to transition from winter's grogginess to the energy and warmth of spring!