With the festivities behind you, and nothing to celebrate until Valentine’s Day in mid-February, January can seem like the longest, darkest, coldest month of the year.
Here are the three things you must do to support yourself this January. They’re completely free of charge – they won’t cost you more than a little effort – and you’ll be the one who reaps all the benefits of putting them into practice.
1. Be the same person in January that you are in July
You’re always the same person from day to day, so remember that you’re the same person in January that you are in July. The short days, the low temperatures and the long gap between the December holidays and Valentine’s Day in February just make you forget.
This January, make an effort to remind yourself of who you are all year round. Make a list of everything that matters to you in your life and keep that list where you can see it every day during the mid-winter period. And don’t forget to read it every day too, of course.
2. Remember that moods are contagious
You aren’t likely to forget to wash your hands or throw away used tissues when you have a winter cold – you know just how far germs can spread – so why do you forget that winter blues can be contagious too?
This January, be particularly mindful of your negative thoughts and feelings. Don’t pass this negativity on to others; and above all, don’t allow others to pass their negativity on to you.
When others start to pass their negativity on, try to turn the conversation back to something positive. If you can’t influence the tone of the conversation – or if you don’t know how – then simply ask other people what they’re planning to do over the summer.
3. Set meaningful goals for yourself to keep motivated
The simplest way to motivate yourself this winter is to set meaningful goals for yourself. Count the number of weeks between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day; then set a goal for each week. Better still, count the number of days; then set a small goal for each day.
Setting meaningful goals for yourself – and then achieving them – does for your mind what going to the gym does for your body: it keeps you in mental shape; it energises you and makes you feel good about yourself; and above all, it changes the way other people see you.
Learning how to set and measure well-formulated goals might be the most useful skill you ever learn in your life. May I tell you why? Because the way you set your goals can affect whether or not you find the motivation to achieve them – in other words, whether or not you succeed.