5 ways to keep the motivation through the cold and gloomy winter
After the cold, gloomy days of January, it seems there are some spring sprouts coming out and the rays of sun are warming more than usual; days are getting longer and sunsets are becoming a beautiful event to see from a London rooftop —or in a terrace with a Campari spritz. Now that we are approaching the last days of February, it seems that the weather has given us a break in London, letting us walk at some points of the day without a thousand layers —pure happiness. I could even spot a few runners who got motivated by the sunshine and decided to get back to their health resolutions with the warmer temperatures. Overall, London is a happier place when the sun shines; however, we must bear in mind that, at the end of the day we live in a city with unpredictable weather and the rain, the cold —even the snow— can be back in March. So even though it’s great to use the nice-weather push to start a new task, how can we keep the motivation when the bug is gone?
I don’t know about you, but the feeling I get that rainy and grey Sunday after a week of pure sunshine is… pure misery. My motivation goes down the drain and all I look forward to is the embrace of my blanket and binge-watch all three Bridget Jones’ Diary movies. Honestly, if I were a plant, I think I would probably be a sunflower —always chasing the sun. This is why I have always envied those who are not affected by the changing weather, in fact, if I could choose a superpower it would be that one —screw invisibility. So I can understand that keeping the balance between motivation and snuggling in bed with an ice-cream (yes, even in winter. Ice cream is always a good idea) can be a really hard task. However, over time I realised that what I actually needed to do was to tweak a few habits to boost my motivation pursue —and getting things done. Here are five ways I turned into a more productive being without dying of chocolate ice cream indigestion:
1. Setting fewer, more realistic resolutions
I used to draw at least ten bullet-points in January as resolutions for the year (I wonder whether in the souther hemisphere is easier to accomplish New Year resolutions?). Guess how many I managed to accomplish? A couple. So it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are, I’m sure they are the best, but we need to be clear about the nature of our resolutions. I would ask myself, is this good enough to make me move through a cold, gloomy day or is it just novelty? How can I tweak it in order to feel I will be able to accomplish it? For example, even though I know doing exercise helps boost the mood, I also know my gym subscription doesn’t last for long —or it lasts for too long, to my bank account’s agony. This year, acknowledging this fact, I decided to get an online pilates subscription and practice from home. In this way I know I’m doing the exercise I like, where I want, not feeling the guilt of not wanting to leave my cozy home in the middle of winter.
2. Scrutinising every goal
Have you ever thought what you would exactly do in order to accomplish what you want in the year? By getting into the specifics, the task gets more realistic and less of a pain overtime. One of the most effective things for me is to ask myself when, where and how I would start, how many times a week/day/month I would expect —realistically— to do it and, just in case, keeping in mind friends who might help me when motivation is running low.
It takes much longer than the motivation rash when writing a list out; it’s much easier to dream about the things you want to do than actually getting hands-on and draw a real action plan. However, if you have been a little bit over-ambitious with your resolutions, it helps to understand how much it will take you to accomplish them , and maybe cross some that you don’t really need/eventually want to do. If you feel demotivated only by thinking what, when, and how then… I guess it’s time to say hasta la vista baby to that resolution and focus on another one.
3. Stick to a plan
Making lists is one of my favourite things. I love organising my day and having a little to do list in order to visualise how the day is going to be, or at least a rough idea. One of the things that have helped me to keep myself out of the winter misery has been getting a small ‘to do’ list for the day on a notebook. In this way, at least I would feel an inch of achievement, which helped me win the pulse of the day against lethargy, procrastination and laziness.
4. Do something
After reading Mark Mansons’ The Art of Not Giving a F*, one of the things that stuck in my mind was the following: do something. Even if you don’t really feel like, start with a tiny task which can build motivation up. You don’t need to run 30 minutes every morning because you haven’t built the habit; instead you can set your alarm 10 minutes before your usual snooze and just stretch. Lately my writing has been pretty slow and one of the reasons was the renown ‘blank page block’. I felt I had nothing relevant to say or to write about, so I just skipped writing and procrastinated with other things such as playing with my cat. At one point, when my guilt was getting bigger than my apartment I decided to write regardless of the content. Just write for the sake of writing. It works wonders. Another great inspiring reading was illustrator Julia Sagramola’s blog; in her post, she explains how beneficial for motivation is keeping 10 minutes of the day to free drawing as we get rid of the judgement and let our brain –and creativity— go.
5. No pressure!
At the end of the day it’s your life and your year. You decide how you want to spend it, right? It’s easier to choose things we enjoy than forcing ourselves to do something without a real force of motivation behind. To me, the core of a resolution is that it makes you grow and feel better about yourself. Even if it’s a hard resolution, the reason behind it should compensate the effort you are putting. In order to grow we need to feel uncomfortable; one we get used to the initial pain not only we feel better about ourselves but also accomplished!