Staying motivated is incredibly important for working towards our goals and ensuring that we keep our lives on track. Having goals and intentions are what give our life meaning and direction, and working towards them is what keeps us progressing and prevents us from 'stagnating' or standing still.
However staying motivated isn't always easy when it uses up so much energy and we have so many other distractions in life like work and relationships. It is the difference between a motivated person and someone who isn't motivated that allows us to come home and be productive rather than doing the only thing we probably want to do which is usually to sit on the couch and vegetate.
A lack of motivation can be more serious than that though too and not only effect how we spend our free time, but also how motivated we are at work and the quality and quantity of our output. If you aren't motivated you may have a tendency to sit at the desk and stare blankly into the screen while putting in the bare minimum effort to avoid getting fired – rather than using initiative, seeking out problems, improving on things that don't need improving, and doing your work with creative flare and zest for life that's required to get promoted.
While it can be difficult year round to maintain these energy levels and this motivation, when the winter sets in it is always going to be worse as we are forced to deal with the cold weather that will tax our energy and the early darkness that seems to reconfirm that you should be in bed not working. While SAD (seasonal effective disorder) is a serious condition that only effects some people, it is something that we all experience to one degree or another and the cold dark months will physically change your brain chemistry as well as your interest in working. So how do you stay motivated and ensure that you don't let the winter months get the better of you? Here we will have a look at some methods you can use to try and counter the effects of the winter months on your motivation levels and ensure that the time of year does not dictate your state of mind.
Get a 'Daylight Lamp': One of the things that makes it hard to focus and stay motivated in winter is as we've discussed is the fact that our brain chemistry is altered by the light. This is what causes 'seasonal affective disorder' and this is particularly bad in the morning. To counter this, try buying yourself a daylight lamp, which is a light that more closely mimics natural light from the sun. With a daylight lamp then you can experience the same effects as having proper sunlight in your own home throughout the day. At the same time you can also set this on an alarm or a timer and this way you will be gradually woken up by a bright natural light as though you were allowing light to come through the curtains.
Get Cosy: A lot of the time we get demotivated in winter because it's dark and cold and we feel like we really want to be somewhere else. However in some ways you can work this to your advantage – and if you make your working environment cosy and warm and pleasant to work in then you will actually ensure that you want to be there and that you don't actually want to leave. Working in a cold, dark office filled with sterile halogen lighting is always going to be unpleasant; instead then get yourself a nice mug of tea, wrap yourself up warmly, use a desk light or even better a lava lamp or plasma globe to set some 'mood lighting', turn on some quiet music and leave the curtains open so you can see the rain run down the window or the snow falling past. Suddenly you're in a great position to work and will find you don't want to leave.
Go on Holiday: If you find the winter months stretching out too long, then take a break and go briefly somewhere water. Take a stint to a warm European country like Spain or Portugal, or somewhere hot in the US like Los Angeles. This can be enough to reinvigorate you, and the rest of the time it will ensure you have something to look forward to which can be motivating in itself.
Drink Tea: Throughout the winter, tea and coffee will be your best friends. They are warming which means you instantly get to avoid the coldness of winter, but more to the point they help to fight fatigue and keep you awake and motivated.
Fix Your Body Clock: If you're not enjoying the darkness and the cold then you need to ensure that you're awake more around the times when it's warmer and lighter. Once it starts getting dark around four you will then get more light time by getting up earlier. So during winter try getting up earlier and going to bed earlier too.
Eat Well: During the winter our body burns more fat in order to stay warm and to keep us awake. To ensure you have enough energy throughout then, try eating more complex carbs to give you a constant energy supply, more vitamins and minerals to help your immune system in fighting colds, and more protein so that your body stays healthy.
Exercise: Exercising will make you warmer, will wake your body up, and will ensure that you produce lots of useful hormones and chemicals such as dopamine to keep you motivated, endorphins to improve your mood and testosterone to increase drive.