It’s that time of year again – winter is nearly here!

As a startup founder, the time leading up to and just after the new year can be crucial for staying on track to hit key milestones. Between holiday parties, vacations, and dinners, it can be tough to get anything done when your time is being split between work and social activities.

While the winter season can be filled with joy and festivities, shorter days, stormy weather, and the bitter cold can also take a toll on your motivation. With this in mind, here are five ways you can stay motivated during the winter months and beat the winter blues.


1. Celebrate your success.

December can feel like a bit of a “down month” – people take time off, programs wrap up and things tend to slow down. Use this downtime to take a moment to celebrate the successes you and your startup experienced this year.

Startup founders often move at “startup speed” and forget to slow down to take time to appreciate their “wins”. Setting aside some time to highlight what you and your team accomplished is a great way to motivate everyone in your startup to continue working hard to meet goals.


2. Set goals.

Speaking of goals. After you celebrate your success, it’s time to outline what you’ll achieve next. A great way to stay motivated is to establish new goals and determine an action plan for meeting them. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand the relationship between goals and motivation. Poorly planned goals, or goals that don’t align with the company’s mission, can drain the motivation of both you and your employees.

Developing clear (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound) goals creates a roadmap to follow, and helps energize you when the milestones become further apart and harder to envision.


3. Start a new book.

Winter is a great time to break open one of the books you’ve been meaning to read. For entrepreneurs, being a continuous learner is not just a way of life, it’s a method of survival.

There are countless books authored by seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders that aim to impart valuable lessons and motivational advice. But let’s face it, as much as you know you should read more, it’s hard to find time to while balancing the schedule of a busy entrepreneur.

As the weather gets colder, and you begin spending more time inside, reading is a great way to keep your mind active and your motivation high. Looking for a new book to read? Check out this ultimate winter reading list for startups.


4. Get active.

Credit: @tjhfx

The cold weather is great for encouraging people to stay inside and bury themselves under a mountain of work…or blankets. While getting work done is nice, being busy for the sake of being busy is not only unproductive, it can also lead to motivation-killing burnout.

Instead of finding more work to do, or taking a nap, get out and get active. Staying active over the winter months is one of the best ways to combat a decrease in motivation. Simply going out for a walk in the fresh air

According to research, exercise improves brain power and can help with creativity. A 2012 study by the Montreal Heart Institute showed aerobic exercise increased cognitive function. This is because exercise increases blood flow to your brain, meaning a jog might be just what you need before a brainstorming session.

Looking for ways to get active this winter? If you’re in Halifax, try taking a stroll in the Public Gardens during their new winter hours or grab your skates and check out the Emera Oval.


5. Illuminate your workday.

With Daylight Savings Time ending and the sunshine replaced with stormy grey skies, winter can be dark and dreary. If you find the lack of sunlight is bringing you down, you may be experiencing symptoms of what’s known as the “winter blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, two to three per cent of Canadians have been clinically diagnosed with SAD, and another 15 per cent of Canadians experience mild seasonal depression.

Combat the “winter blues” by borrowing a light therapy lamp from one of the 14 Halifax Public Libraries. Work from the library using one of their Light Therapy Stations, or you can rent one of their smaller, more portable lamps if you prefer working from the office.


Whether you’re experiencing burnout from overworking, or you’re simply feeling unproductive, staying motivated can be a challenge. Finding a source of motivation that works best for you may take some time. Not everything listed here will work for everyone. Try experimenting with these tips to determine the right fit for your lifestyle and schedule.

Once you find a motivation strategy that works, build a habit of incorporating it into your weekly schedule – just be sure to keep trying new ways to maintain your motivation to keep things fresh.

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