Today marks Chinese New Year — the start of a new year in the lunar calendar. Now that you know how to observe and celebrate it, it’s time to look ahead for what's to come. I spoke with Laura Lau, author of The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, currently in its seventh edition, about the spiritual significance of the Year of the Monkey, what it means that it’s aligned with the element of fire, and what to watch out for this year. “The monkey is known for being very intelligent and clever,” explains Lau, calling it “one of the most innovative personalities within the zodiac.” These are common personality traits of people born under this sign, but they’re also thematic to the Year of the Monkey overall. As the monkey imbues the year with its quick wit, curiosity, and, as Lau stresses, its resourcefulness, it becomes a “year of reinvention in a lot of ways...a very energetic year and an auspicious one.” You might have heard that this year is specifically a Year of the Fire Monkey, which not only sounds cool, but could also be advantageous. Every year is associated with one of the five main elements — metal, water, fire, wood, and earth — which, as Lau explains, adds “another layer to the horoscope chart.” In this year’s case, she says to expect “an element of vitality, a little bit more power and energy to it.” Lau adds that these elements interact with each sign of the zodiac differently, causing the tone of each year to vary more than one would think, and the Fire Monkey makes for a powerful combination. “Monkey personalities can have short attention spans, or do things and quickly forget about them because they’re just easy,” says Lau. She also points out that years under this sign can cause some to feel wayward or scattered. Luckily, Lau’s quick to clarify that the element of fire “promotes more focus and a lot more attention,” which is “really powerful for this type of personality. When they focus and decide they really want to do something, they really see it through to the end.” While this animal and element combination is pretty complementary, it’s not without risk. Lau advises you avoid overextending yourself: “Try to not take too many projects on. Heed those warnings about this personality type, that they tend to take a lot of new roads and abandon things.” Since monkeys can be so easily distracted, it’s also in your best interests to keep track of your progress — and be mindful of how you reach your goals. In other words, Lau says, “it’s important that if you have any wins this year to stay thoughtful and thankful for what you achieve, because things can turn on a dime in a year like this.” With all this in mind, Lau says that the Year of the Fire Monkey is a great year for fresh starts: “If you’ve been on the sidelines, waiting to start a new business or jump into a new hobby or back to school, it’s a very supportive year to do those kinds of things.” Welcome to the new year — embrace it, and see what new paths it leads you to.