Making plans for the winter months

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How you can use the grim days of the year to accomplish everything you dreamt of during summer

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Living in the Northern hemisphere, the months of November up to March are often a cause of depression or at least met with a tiny feeling of dread.
You know what’s coming for you…

October will most often let you down gently into the colder temperatures. Beautifully colored autumn leaves are distracting you and the odd sunshine here and there may still warm your heart.

November has its own perks including some country or religion-specific holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Diwali, Hanukkah, but can already make you feel a little rough around the edges.

December obviously has the excitement of the holidays and the next year just around the corner. That excitement might still rub off in early January — together with all the New Year’s resolutions you made. (“Hi gym membership, that I will use 3 weeks and then forget about.”).

But when February is about to start, the winter might already feel like a long, long run. A run up a hill with decreasing levels of oxygen. Throw in some Covid-related restrictions including fewer social activities — and there you are: cuddled up in your bed under a blanket you’d love to forget about the world.

Don’t worry, this article is not written to make you miserable ahead of time. Instead, let’s get prepared for the upcoming months and think about what we will work on every day starting from tomorrow.

Because nobody tells you: sunshine is distracting you. Going out with friends during spring and summer is wonderful. But often, we miss taking care of other things that are important to us. Yes, my house is a mess, too. The decluttering of the wardrobe is due for the last 4 months, I always wanted to tidy the desk. I never get around to improving my drawing. Exercise? Ehem…

It’s about time we make a plan to tackle something that we’ve put off doing. Something we wanted to do for a while. Maybe something we were a little afraid of. What will it be?

Now, that we know what we will do, we schedule it! Fix a time of the day that is for exactly that. Put it in our calendar. Each day, 15min can be enough. It depends on what we want to do exactly.
From my experience, it helps to make an appointment for myself. At least, it makes me take it more seriously.

A proven way of creating a habit of what we’re going to do from tomorrow is to integrate it as a step in the series of habits we already have. Imagine the evening: you have dinner, tidy a bit, play with your kid, put it to bed, then sit on the couch, start watching something or scroll through your phone, add it right there between the coach and the screen!
If you’re someone who can manage to get up 30mins earlier each morning… great, make it a part of your morning routine. A lot of successful people are talking about getting up early to have undistracted time for themselves. And it’s cool if they can pull that off — but if you don’t feel like it, don’t despair and try the evening routine. I’m mostly doing that and it works like a charm.

Go ahead, think about where it fits in your day, and schedule it. Do it now! I’ll wait.

Congratulations: we have set the time and the intention to actually do what we’re going to do. Next, it’s also going to be important to track our progress. That’s easiest when we set goals in the first place. These goals can be tiny and they can be huge. A mix of both might be best. So what do you want to achieve each month up to March? Write it down.

Review how much you have done to get closer to your goal once a week. This is what might keep you going when you don’t feel like continuing.

Write about the experience itself, what you learn, and how doing what you do makes you feel about yourself. You might be surprised how eye-opening the whole process can become. Especially, when you look back and read what you wrote. It’s a way to adopt an outside, big picture perspective that is hard to take while you’re at it and all entangled in the little details.

Finally, don’t forget to show some compassion to yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate each milestone of your progress. Cheer yourself on each day you’re actually doing it. No need to be too hard on yourself, if it slips a day. Then you get back to it the next day! Don’t forget to have fun.

Imagine how you will feel in February if you pull it off. Think of the person you’re going to be. Instead of lying under the blanket in your bed, dreading the world, you will be up and excited, doing your thing.

Let me know how it went!

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