01/09/2011 04:31 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Do You Approach Change as a Turtle, a Rabbit or a Hummingbird?

An astrologer friend of mine told me the month of January is an excellent time for moving forward. Apparently all the planets are aligned with our natural instinct to consider January as the month for making positive changes in our lives. The local gyms are packed, carrot sticks are replacing cookies, fresh calendars are open, goals are set, and inspiration is high.

However, the zeal of new year's resolutions is often couched with the inner critic smirking in the background -- ticking off examples of the zillion other changes or goals that never materialized. So often the rub is this: we want to change but can't, are forced to change but aren't ready, or are actually super-motivated to change but don't know how to get started.

Change comes in many forms. The key is being receptive to the many faces of change, and recognizing your particular style for managing them. Sometimes change requires a slow and steady approach -- like taking 21 days to get rid of a bad habit. Alternatively, change happens with the unexpected -- like a job loss that becomes a blessing down the road. Sometimes change moves in collective waves; we are tempted but won't jump in until we see the crowd -- like old timers on Facebook!

What's your natural reaction to change? Let's take a change personality test. Below are several different examples of "Change Agents," in the form of animals to represent different styles and approaches. Notice which one is most like you.

The Turtle: The turtle approaches change in baby steps. They think for a long time about the change they want to make. Once they decide, they plod along, take a rest now and then (sometimes in the middle of the road), and eventually arrive at the finish line. If the change comes too fast, look out! They will pull their head inside their shell and won't come out until it feels safe. Some changes are made for the turtle. Losing weight, for example, is something we elect to do, make a decision to let go of sweets or fats, and make a daily effort. Slow and steady is good.

The Rabbit: The rabbit approaches change by making sudden and giant leaps. Often they dart this way and that in a rather erratic pattern, with one rapid-fire change after another, and then have to hide in the bushes for a bit to recover! The rabbit comes in handy when it is time to make a big decision, like changing jobs, and the time for pondering is over. Let's face it: if you have reached the edge of a crevasse in life, the only way to get to the other side is to channel Bugs Bunny and jump!

The Hummingbird: The hummingbird represents the type of change that is a flash of magic, an ephiphany or a divine "aha!" moment that leaves you breathless and forever changed. The hummingbird represents the kind of changes that you did not realize you were meant to make but which are offered up with a sort of divine voice or inner inspiration that hits you over the head with its perfection -- and is suddenly gone. The hummingbird flits into your consciousness when you have lost faith or are quietly listening, and the changes start to happen almost effortlessly.

I personally am more of a rabbit by nature, and this is not always a good thing. For example, I decided to get back into shape like the rest of the world this month; and instead of channeling the turtle, I choose to kill myself the first week by jumping into cardio yoga, swimming laps and skiing -- until I literally cannot climb the stairs without screaming in pain. A turtle approach may have been a tad wiser...

No matter what animal of change you have in front of you, all change needs support to succeed. Here are a few suggestions for all animal varieties:

For all you turtles out there trying to lose weight, there is a reason that Weight Watchers is the number-one most effective plan! It is slow and steady, with points, support and room for reality. I also have written about the new and fun "Game On Diet" that gets the turtle moving a bit quicker, creating a competitive game of weight loss with a friendly team approach.

For those rabbits out there contemplating making a leap into the unknown, I highly recommend signing up for two fun sites that can help inspire the jump; and offer some protective cover for the landings. GoGratitude is a fantastic site that offers daily reminders of the power of gratitude to push through change when the going gets rough. I also love, which offers hilarious and insightful notes from the universe that are often mysteriously spot on.

For those hummingbirds who have experienced some sort of "aha!" revelation, I highly recommend reading the book "Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage and Transform," by Elise Ballard, who describes all epiphanies as coming from a place of listening, belief, action and serendipity. Her book offers examples of epiphany moments from folks like Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou, Ali McGraw and Desmond Tutu, and is the book I plan to give as a gift for every birthday present this year.

Some changes are necessary and mundane, like fitting into any pants that require a button or snap. Others affect other people, like contemplating a divorce or move. But the changes that are truly interesting to me are the ones that require a true reinvention of yourself -- and these are rare gems indeed.

Nikki Rasmussen is a dear friend of mine who owns a local med spa called YOLO, which stands for "You Only Live Once." I was one of the first she shared her dream with when it was only a paper napkin drawing, and was so proud when a year later she won "Best Small Business of the Year." Two days after her 40th birthday, she received a call at 2 a.m. informing her that an accidental fire had completely destroyed the place, and she was left with nothing.

After walking through the blackened rubble, she saw magnetic pictures of her children on the refrigerator melted and distorted out of recognition. She knew at that moment that her children were safe, that no one was hurt and that this devastating change was only stuff. It took a hummingbird of light to shine through the soot and show her that she would leap like the rabbit to reinvent herself once again -- because we always do, turtle steps and all.

What changes have presented themselves to you in this new year, and what animal energy is your favorite? I would love to hear you comments in the box below.

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