When setting your personal goals, it’s important to create a timeline and break larger goals down into manageable pieces. Given that each monthly menstrual cycle can be broken down into four parts, here’s why you should consider the phases of your menstrual cycle when looking to achieve long-term goals.
The menstrual cycle is broken down into four phases. Each has different mental and physical strengths and challenges. We have the menstrual phase from days 1-7 (roughly), the follicular phase for the following 7-10 days, the ovulatory phase which lasts approximately 4 days in the middle, and then the luteal phase which can be anywhere between 10 – 18 days to finish off the cycle and head back into menstruation.
Cycle Syncing Your Personal Goals
Menstruation is the beginning of a new cycle. This is when we release the uterine lining that has built up over the last month. After menstruation and before ovulation, it will build itself back up again and then if nothing is implanted during ovulation, it prepares to shed again. The cycle continues!
By working in sync with these phases, we can harness their strengths, acknowledge how they challenge us, and improve our chances of accomplishing personal goals.
Goal Setting Starting with the Menstrual Phase
The first one is the menstrual phase, or your bleed. The menstrual phase is a time to rest, restore nutrients, and reflect upon your previous cycle. You’ll naturally feel more fatigued, withdrawn and introspective. By relaxing into this, instead of going against it, you can take time to assess where in your personal life you’d like to make progress once your energy returns. You have about a week before your follicular phase.
If you’ve experienced a challenging past month, with symptoms like irritability, anxiety, cramps, heavy bleeding, or excessive fatigue, take note of this. This next month, you can actively work towards seeing improvements in these symptoms through gradual changes in nutrition, exercise, stress management, and receiving targeted support.
Fueling Up with the Follicular Phase
Maybe you’re starting the journey towards your personal goals while in your follicular phase. This means that your energy is on the rise after menstruation and it’s a great time to start trying to make gains, especially at the gym.
The body responds best to muscular conditioning during this building-back phase of the menstrual cycle. Once you’ve finished menstruating, the uterus begins to build back its lining in preparation for ovulation and potential implantation. The rest of the body acts similarly, with the greatest muscle gains during the follicular and ovulatory phases.
If you’ve set a personal goal of losing weight or building muscle or dreaming of someday running a marathon, now would be a great time to start on your action plan.
Hit Your Stride During the Ovulatory Phase
As you near ovulation, energy and estrogen peak, making taking action and communicating your ideas with others easier. Now is a great time to make strides towards your goals.
A long-term goal is best accomplished when broken down into smaller steps. Plot out and measure the steps towards your current goals with the phases of your menstrual cycle in mind. You’re now at the halfway point in your monthly cycle.
Track your progress throughout the first half of the month. This is when your energy will be higher and your brain will be in peak creativity mode. If your goal is time bound, these are the weeks to really set things in motion before you slow down again during the luteal phase.
Slow Down While Maintaining Steady Progress with the Luteal Phase
Achieving your goals might move slower at times. The luteal phase is still a time of productivity, but at a pace that is sustainable for the next two weeks. Carry on with the momentum from your first two weeks, but ease into the process and know that your progress might be a little bit slower.
Setting a personal goal and seeing it through to completion takes careful planning and periodic re-evaluating. As your energy naturally dips nearing the end of the luteal, you may feel less inclined to socialize and start to turn inwards again as you head into menstruation. Keep up a gentle pace to not get discouraged and continue making strides towards your goal. Begin to reflect on the progress you’ve made this month. Evaluating your goals means you can make sure you’re on target for success before a new month/cycle begins.
Cycling Back to Menstruation
Whether it’s about losing a certain amount of weight or progressing on a creative project, give yourself a break when your hormones are requesting it. We aren’t meant to be making the same amount of progress every day. Rest is built into any training program for a reason.
Menstruation is a time of release—let go of anything that held you back this past month. Accept that this is a time of rest and recovery and evaluate your next steps for the coming month. That way, you’ll be in peak shape once you cycle back towards the energy and motivation of your follicular phase!
Setting Personal Goals with Your Period
Working with the menstrual cycle to make cyclical progress encourages body awareness and learning to give yourself more grace. As people who menstruate, our bodies function on a 28-day rhythm that we benefit from being mindful and considerate of. Harness the power of this built-in path to progress and achievement.