Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. ~ Arthur Ashe

I’m writing this in January in London – the start of a new year with short days, long nights and cold grey skies; when all you feel like doing is wrapping a big woolly blanket round you and snuggling down on the sofa – with a tube of Pringles or a box of chocolates within easy reach.

In fact, the winter months can be a real challenge when it comes to keeping motivated – all you want to do is to turn into a hedgehog, curl up into a ball and find somewhere warm to while away the time.

And yet you get bombarded with endless emails and blogs telling you how to set up your resolutions so you can start the year with a bang.  Get up earlier, lose weight, take up running, become more focused – all good advice but to be totally honest, you can find it exhausting in itself before you’ve even poked your head from under the duvet and given the new year a bleary eyed shrug.

As we all know, setting resolutions doesn’t work.  In fact, every time you don’t follow through on a new project, fail to complete a goal, or give up on a commitment, you end up feeling worse about yourself.

Is it any wonder that with a combination of long nights, cold grey weather and broken resolutions, we end up feeling demotivated and demoralised?

So how can you keep your energy levels up when you’re feeling low – especially during the winter months?

Well here are 7 key actions that you can do to cast off that cloak of sloth and put on your rocket powered boots to get you fired up for the year ahead.

Accept what is.  This is one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve learnt since being in business.  Beating yourself up over what’s happened in the past, whether that’s unfulfilled projects or broken commitments, will just leave you feeling demotivated and won’t move you forward.  Just accept what’s happened, learn from it and then let it go.  What matters is starting from where you are now – deciding what you can do with what you’ve got and then taking that first action step.

Know where you’re going.  It’s difficult to get energised if you have no idea where you’re going or what you’re trying to achieve.  Know your mission – what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for.  Then set your actions around that mission – by being focused in this way, you will have far more energy because you have a clear purpose of what you want to achieve.

Discipline.  Be disciplined with what you’re doing.  So if you’ve got a project or goal that you want to get done within the next couple of months, then make sure that you’re setting aside time every day to work on it, whether that’s for 20 minutes or 2 hours.  By regularly committing to your goals every day, you will soon start to tick them off from your to do list.  And the satisfaction of seeing what you’ve achieved will give you the motivation and energy to keep going.

Sleep well.  Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, make sure you’re getting enough restful sleep for your mind and body.  Lack of sleep can significantly affect how your brain and body functions, leaving you feeling lethargic and unable to concentrate.

Do it your way.  Reading blogs and articles on productivity and motivation is useful (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this!) but if you’re not careful, you can find yourself on a treadmill trying to implement every piece of new advice or tool to help you become more effective.  Remember what works for one person may not work for you.  So find out what’s best for you in terms of times and methods of working.

Break things down.  It can be hard to get started on a new project if you’re feeling tired and lethargic.  So break the project down into tiny chunks rather than try and complete it in one go.  Say you want to write a weekly blog – set a deadline for when you want to publish, then work backwards from there, setting aside the necessary time each day to research and write the blog so that you can publish it by the due date.  Breaking tasks into chunks stops you from getting overwhelmed and gives you the motivation to get started.

Having fun

Have fun.  This is something that I’m committed to doing this year.  Because without fun, then your life just becomes one boring round of slogging along from one project to another, keeping that treadmill going until you collapse into an exhausted heap!  So take time out to have fun in whatever way that means for you – going for coffee with friends, playing on the swings in the local park, dancing wildly round the house to your favourite tune. Taking a break from the day to day stuff brings you back refreshed to your work, ready to go out and conquer the world!

So now you know how you can keep your energy levels up when you’re feeling low.

Go ahead – cast off your cloak of sloth and don your cape of moxie to skyrocket your productivity and soar into success!

About Valerie Eaton

Valerie is the founder and owner of Smart VA who provides virtual PA services to self-employed professionals who are feeling overwhelmed by their workload and want more time to focus on growing their business.

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