Raise your hand if you’ve felt extra “blah” this week.

Come to think of it – that might take too much energy. Maybe just wiggle your toes if you agree with the following statements.

  • I’m finding it hard to motivate.
  • I don’t have the energy I’m used to.
  • I’m struggling with focus more than normal.

Friends, the Mid-Winter Blah’s are upon us.

The energetic paradox of January is the motivational boost of the Fresh Start Effect – which prompts us to set aspirational health, lifestyle and career goals – and the energy slump of the post-holiday season – which prompts us to press SNOOZE on alarm clocks…repeatedly (guilty!).

It’s no wonder that the second Friday of January has been dubbed “quitters day.”  According to research collected by the running app Strava – analyzing a mind-boggling 800 million user data points – 80% of people tap out on their goals by the second week of the New Year.

The paradox also affects our career goals. As one of my “Fresh Start Workshop” shared this weekend:

“I’m excited for the prospect of meeting my 2023 career goals, but I need to be honest about what the winter does to my energy, focus and motivation. Do I have to start now?”

The Zoom window became a sea of bobble heads. Turns out – everyone agreed.

So what is a goal-getter to do? Just hit “snooze” on all of our 2023 personal and career ambitions?

Not necessarily.

Here are 3 tips to keep making progress when your tank is running low:

I.  Hello Darkness My Old Friend – Resisting our feelings of blah can exacerbate guilt and self-blame about reaching our goals. This can shift is we just recognize and make friends with the low-energy state we are experiencing. Meditation practitioner Tara Brach’s RAIN method of mindful self-awareness offers some helpful scaffolding here.

  • Recognize what is happening;
  • Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
  • Investigate with interest and care;
  • Nurture with self-compassion.

Notice when you are feeling low energy. Allow the feelings of blah to co-exist with other feelings – impatience, excitement, readiness. Explore how your energy changes throughout your day. Nurture yourself by keeping your thoughts gentle, getting extra rest, spending time outside … without your phone, reaching out to friends who make you laugh, and eating nourishing foods.

II. Keep it Simple – While you may see a lot of urgent messages to “get going” in your inbox and on social media YOU don’t have to make your life overwhelming or complicated right away.

Keeping things simple is a really GREAT January goal. Rather than adding a new goal – get back into practice with the things that bring your life balance & stability. Reduce clutter in your environment. Skip exhausting social gatherings. Prioritize “higher value” activities over ones that feel obligatory or draining. Focus on consistency over quantity.

III. Dream Now, Launch Later –  Why not embrace the dark as a time for visioning and dreaming for what is to come in 2023?

Grab some friends and work on your vision boards. Write down your actual dreams when you remember them. Spend some time going through your old journals and reconnect with the possibilities you imagined for yourself when you were young. Read inspiring biographies and remember what it’s like to pursue a goal with reckless abandon. Keep one of your browser windows filled with travel blogs.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the season of perpetual darkness will be giving way to the vernal equinox in just a little over two months. It’s okay to dream now and launch later.

When it comes to moving forward, March Fo(u)rth can be an excellent alternative to New Year’s Day.

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About the Author: Kate Cockrill

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A little about me... I am a social scientist, facilitator, and professional coach. Through my business: Kate Cockrill Coaching, I support mission driven managers and directors with 1:1 career coaching, leadership coaching, team workshops, and retreat design. My clients include leaders in healthcare, education, research and social innovation.

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