By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

The New Year is an exciting time. It brings a sense of closure and completion, and offers the hopefulness and optimism that accompanies new beginnings.

If you’re looking to make changes this year, it’s helpful to first bring awareness to areas that are currently out of balance and then devise a plan to course-correct. Below is an effective and simple tool called the Circle of Life that can assist on your 2016 journey. It was created by the health coaching school I attended, New York City’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

One of IIN’s key philosophies is that while it’s important to eat whole and healing foods, nutrition is only a part of holistic health. IIN refer to the other parts as “primary foods,” which include joy, spirituality, creativity, finances, career, education, physical activity, home cooking, home environment, relationships and social life.

If any of these “primary foods” don’t resonate with you or you want to make them more specific, simply relabel them on your circle before filling it out.

This exercise is intended to first give you a snapshot of which “primary foods” you are skimping on, and second provoke thoughtful ideas for bringing more abundance to these areas.

After taking 3-5 minutes to complete your 2016 Circle of Life, here are some follow-up questions you can ask yourself:

– Are there any surprises for you?
– How do you feel about life as you look at your Circle of Life?
– Which of these elements would you most like to improve?
– How could you make space for these changes?
– What help from others might you need?
– What would make it a better circle?
– What would a balanced circle look like to you?

Assess your circle as the year progresses to stay on course. Enjoy the process. Live this year to the fullest – we truly never know when it will be our last. Why not intentionally make it the best one yet? Happy New Year!

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, public speaker and health activist. Contact her at