[Note: This tool has been adapted from The Discerning Heart by Wilkie Au and Noreen Cannon Au.]

Human lives are not simple things. We are all a mix of competing drives, desires, and messages; there are lessons we are learning and old lessons we need to forget. This can make it difficult to know which way to go in life.

This exercise is all about laying these all out on the table. The image of the compass can be helpful in sorting this out by providing us with a helpful map of where we are at and where we might possibly go.

  1. On a piece of paper, draw a large circle, with a smaller circle in the centre.
  2. Draw two diagonal lines bisecting the larger circle. This will divide the circle into quadrants facing each of the four directions of a compass, with a fifth area in the middle:

3. In each of the four quadrants, write or draw the events, choices, questions, etc. that fit the direction in question. Here are some suggestions you can use for each of the four directions (feel free to change them up so they are more personally meaningful to you):

a. North: What is your ‘north star’? What is guiding you right now? What is it that orients you in your life choices right now?

b. East: What is your ‘rising sun’? What is emerging in the world or in your life?

c. South: What is your ‘sunny side’? What is energizing and exciting you? What is urging you to movement and spontaneity?

d. West: What is your ‘setting sun’? What is coming to an end right now?

e. Centre: What is at your core right now? What is your ‘yes’ to true, wholehearted living?

4. When you’re finished, spend some time in reflection and prayer, and journal (or discuss with a trusted friend) about what has emerged in the exercise. Where are your feeling called to go?

Optional Expansion

If you want a more detailed version of this exercise, add another two bisecting lines, dividing the larger circle into eight segments instead of four. This will allow you to add the ‘ordinal’ directions to the ‘cardinal’ directions above. Some possible questions for these are:

a. Northeast: What needs attention?

b. Southeast: Where should I direct my energy?

c. Southwest: What do I need to let go of?

d. Northwest: What possible outcomes do I desire?