Intentional Beginnings with the Wayfinders' Temperature Check

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Like many people this time of year, I’m looking at January with an eye toward a fresh start. A new beginning to a new year that I feel hopeful and inspired about.

Whether we’re talking about the start of a new year, the start of a new project, or even the start of a new relationship - being intentional at the outset of any new beginning can be a powerful first step toward progress and change. For example, in my consulting business, the question I always use to start any new project is, “What does success look like?” On a smaller scale, as I prepare for a new week, I’ll often take some time on Sunday evening and ask, “What are my goals and hopes for the week ahead?”

Big or small, there’s always value in starting something new with intention.

With Intentional Beginnings as our theme for January, I’m eager to share an activity to help you be intentional about whatever it is you’re starting. For this one, I’m pulling from both my human-centered design and coaching toolkits to create a mashup that takes a quick pulse and helps you be purposeful as you kick off what’s coming next.

It’s called the Wayfinders’ Temperature Check.

[Download it here.]

Just like taking your temperature to see how you’re feeling, this temperature check provides a window into the “health” of your current world or environment. For this example, I’m going to outline how to take your temperature across a broad spectrum of categories (perfect for starting a new year); that said, know that you can customize this activity to apply to a different or more specific topic….more on that in the instructions here.

My first inspiration for the Wayfinders’ Temperature Check was the Wheel of Life, originally introduced to me by the Coaches Training Institute. The WOL is pretty much just like it sounds – a wheel broken into different sections, each labeled with a different topic (family and friends, money, health, etc). With each of my new coaching clients, I actually ask them to complete a WOL as a first step toward their own temperature check. They’ll then will gauge their satisfaction level across each of these categories and assign a number score to each.

Layered on top of the WOL is another activity I love, this time one I learned from LUMA Institute called What’s on Your Radar (or WOYR – so many acronyms!). WOYR uses a radar template to force us to prioritize what we care about. Because of the limited real estate around the center of the bulls-eye, we’re constrained by what fits there – thus by design, WOYR forces us to get clear on what really counts as a high-priority, versus what might be a secondary or tertiary concern.

As I considered how best to design an activity that connects to Intentional Beginnings, I wondered what it would be like to superimpose Wheel of Life onto What’s on Your Radar. Would it work? The answer is a clear yes.

The magic of the Wayfinders’ Temperature Check is twofold:

First, the process of writing down what matters to us – seeing it both visually in front of us and in relation to other priorities – is truly valuable. Somehow putting it on paper and placing it where it belongs gives that priority new meaning.

Second, taking a step back and seeing all of our priorities mapped out in aggregate is a surprisingly satisfying endeavor. In one fell swoop you have a clear, tactile reminder of the things that you care about most, the questions that are top of mind, and the ideas you want to explore first.

For the past few days I’ve been feeling this swirling in my brain, like I have too many to-do’s and questions and hopes to keep track of. Looking at my own temperature check, I saw what I had created and knew instantly: this is what matters most to me – and it’s right there in front of me. No secret formula, no list in my head to remember. It was all right there.

Give it a try and see what it sparks for you. How might you kick off your next new beginning, whatever it is, with intention?


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Download the Wayfinders’ Temperature Check.