The New Year: A Great Time for Renewal

As we gear up for the new year, it’s a great time to reflect on what went right in our lives during 2012, as well what we need to change (aka New Year’s resolutions). To help take a holistic and organized approach to the New Year, you may find it useful to consider your resolution by assessing areas of your life within a framework that professional development expert, Dr. Stephen Covey calls the “Four Dimensions of Renewal”:

1. Physical:

This dimension focuses on taking care of your body.

Example goals: Eating healthier foods, increasing your physical strength, lowering your stress, etc.

My physical goals for 2013 are to lose 10 pounds and to develop a robust exercise plan consisting of a cardio workout and yoga.

2. Mental:

This dimension looks at keeping your mind sharp and alert.

Example goals: Continue to take classes, pursue further educational opportunities, and attend a lecture. Keep a journal, and use it to record insights that you might otherwise ignore if you weren’t paying attention. Discover new software, and learn to play a musical instrument, etc.

My plan is to read all of Shakespeare’s work and to write a brief post about the work. I’ve already got a start: The Complete Works of Shakespeare Project.

3. Social/Emotional:

This dimension focuses on becoming an effective professional.

Specifically, it requires one to develop their social and emotional acumen. Focusing on building your emotional intelligence by becoming more self-aware and by fostering deeper, more meaningful relationships can also improve your ability to communicate and can lead to a more successful career.

Example goals: Plan and/or attend a social activity, conduct informational interviews with professionals in your field, practicing active listening skills, etc.

My goal this year is to assess the way I deal with stress by using one of the suggestions from Mind Tools: “Examine how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there’s a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it’s not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – in the business world and outside it. Keep your emotions under control when things go wrong.”

4. Spiritual:

This area is about your core – your value system – your true self. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve your religious beliefs, although it can. Either way, centering yourself spiritually helps provide a sense of direction and builds confidence and steadfastness.

Example goals: Listening to music, meditating, praying, connecting with nature, having meaningful conversations, helping others, etc.

My goal in this area is to mediate on detachment – to practice giving up control in various situations and (perhaps even more difficult) not trying to control others. This goal will work well in tandem with the social/emotional goal above. Specifically, I will look for resources, techniques, and methods on how to find peace by detaching.

One final word of advice:  Given the emphasis placed on how quickly and easily New Year’s resolutions fail, it is best to divide your plan of renewal into actionable, measurable goals.

As you think about how you will approach your personal and professional growth using the Four Dimensions of Renewal, consider creating your goals using the SMART criteria. This approach can help you build a better YOU!


Vic has a passion for working with students and professionals who are preparing to establish careers on a global stage. He has extensive experience in leadership, career and organizational development in both the public and private sectors. Currently, he is a career counselor and adjunct associate professor for the University of Minnesota Law School, where he provides career path, job search strategy, and life-work balance counseling for law students, alumni, and foreign-trained attorneys. He is also principal of Cygnus 360, a career development consultancy that helps career counselors, career services offices, and clients with their career needs which include creating their brands using social networking tools and other technology. Vic is currently serving on the board for the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP). He is a former board member for the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA), past president of the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals City Group, and former director of learning for the Minnesota Organization Development Network.  You can follow Vic at Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Mid-Year Progress Report
  2. Personal Branding: Time to Reflect and Move Forward
  3. Tips for Time Management

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