Finding motivation through the January blues
With Christmas and 2018 behind us, and a whole new year stretching out ahead, January is a time for fresh starts and resolutions. But with the third Monday in January known for the most miserable day of the year, and weeks of cold and dark ahead, many of us can find our motivation drained during these early months.
When combined with pre-existing mental health issues, the gloomy nature of this time of year can make it difficult to even keep our heads above water, let alone shake off all our old bad habits and dive into the “new year, new me” mentality. Not feeling able to reach our goals or do small things to improve our wellbeing can be frustrating and disheartening, especially if we know some changes (for example, cutting down on alcohol) would make us feel better in the long run.
Whether it’s getting a new job, learning to drive or something simple like going for a short walk every day, finding motivation even through the January blues can help us become that little bit happier and feel as if we are moving forward in life. Here are some ways to kick-start some motivation this new year.
Identify and Write Down Your Goals
Sometimes we only half know what it is we want to achieve but putting your goals into words, even things that you just want done by the end of the day, is a strangely incentivising action. This should be kept as direct and uncomplicated as possible. I often find that making endless to-do lists of tiny nagging tasks can put me off doing work, whereas bold, simple statements stuck up on a wall reminds me of the ultimate aim and what I’ve set out to accomplish.
Use Your Current Position as Incentive
While not always easy, It’s important to find some contentment with what you have in life from moment to moment. Constantly struggling against your present situation and drowning yourself in discontentment will only exhaust you, leading straight to a demotivating slump. However, this isn’t to say that you can’t use the things that you perhaps aren’t so pleased with in your life as an impetus to achieve your goals.
For example if you don’t like your job, you can both ensure that you don’t get too downtrodden by looking for the positives within that job, whilst also using your dissatisfaction to motivate you into doing things that can change your circumstances. It’s this sort of yearning that keeps novelists scribbling until two in the morning before getting up for their day job, and it’s a way of making sure that no matter what, you are always following your passions.
When you are stuck in a spiral of negativity, and convinced that whatever you try isn’t going to lead to anything anyway, it’s hard to even contemplate doing the things we should but don’t really want to do. Meditation can help us deal with lots of the root causes of demotivation, from lack of energy to mind-fogging stress, and it can go a long way in putting you in the right frame of mind for getting stuff done. Starting with simple mindfulness exercises can be one way to begin, and there’s lots of advice online about using meditation to improve wellbeing.
Advice these days is only a few clicks away, and in the vast world of the internet you can find experiences from those whose ambitions are similar to yours – whatever they happen to be. Whether you need support from people who are in the same boat, or sage wisdom from the people who have been in your situation yet eventually found recovery and success, it’s easy to find. Even the most rugged individualist would struggle achieving anything entirely on their own, and bearing this in mind means you’ll never be afraid to ask for help.
Acknowledge Your Successes
Never make anything a thankless task, even the things that you find rewarding in their own right. If you’ve finished something then congratulate yourself somehow. Celebrate the big successes and the small ones, and never forget that it’s ok to relax. Those of us who know that they can easily get demotivated can sometimes find themselves going to other way, into a state of constant work, in fear that they’ll pick up old habits again.
This will do you no favours in the long run, while stopping every now and then to realise how far you’ve come, and how much you’ve achieved, will reinforce the optimism that keeps you compelled to go on. When you keep your happiness as a priority you’ll find the right decisions easy to make and each achievement adding to your positivity, making life both as contented and productive as possible.
Holly Ashby is a wellness writer who works with Beeja Meditation, who teach meditation in London, helping people cope with the effects of stress and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.