I hate the winter.
No really, I totally hate it.
The cold weather (and we certainly did have some bitterly cold weather in New York last winter), the snow (fun when you’re a kid, not so much when you’re an adult with places to go), the bundling up which forces you to prepare to go outside like you’re donning armor – and then still being cold anyway, the utter lack of life around you, the fact that there are few women to approach outside (my bread and butter as I’m not much of a coffee shop guy), etc.
But the winter comes, and unless you live or can easily move to a more tropical climate during the coldest months, there’s not much you can do about it. Feeling negative about it isn’t going to solve much.
Instead, for the past few years, I’ve used winter as an opportunity and time for rejuvenation. Those first three months of the year, where you’re hunkering down, spending far more time indoors than outdoors, are a perfect time for you to work hard and marshal your resources for the coming year. Free of distractions since you’re so hunkered down, you can make the best use winter as a time for rejuvenation from the major activities of the preceding months which culminate in the Holidays, thinking big, setting the tone, and beginning to work toward implementing your vision for the year.
By starting the year off strong in the first three months, you gain habits to put into place for the other nine.
We can use the gym as perhaps the best concrete example. The interceding three-four months before the weather gets warm is the best time to spend training hard to get a better “beach body.” Since there’s no better time to get the best, most visible result that you can take to the warm, “beach” weather on day one whenever it arrives for you (usually mid-late April here in New York), the best time for training, if for pure aesthetics, in my opinion, is the winter. You should be training year-round of course, but I always found the winter to be the most motivating time to make gains for this reason. It will also get your blood flowing and make you less cold, which is an added benefit.
I have also used the winter in recent years to make heavy gains in my other lifestyle activities, pursuing the path to more money. In 2014, I spent the winter writing my epic, fictional novel. During those months of furious activity, I completed the bulk of the largest, most complex, and most important act in the book. It allowed me to finish the act completely in May, well before the peak of the warm season where other activities beckoned. The hardest legwork for the year had been done, and it allowed me to enjoy the better weather, coasting along at a more leisurely pace all the way to the end of the year.
The power of the relatively isolating winter, where you can gather your thoughts, work on your projects with fewer distractions, and set yourself up to coast for the rest of the year where more distracting activities will surely beckon, is thus seen. With few distractions, the winter provides opportunity for rejuvenation and self-reflection, so that when those distractions begin with the warm weather, you’ll have already gone far toward your yearly goals and can afford a bit of breathing room, so to speak, for distraction and diversion.
Winter is almost like a monastery. You retreat from the cold outside world, huddle near the fire, contemplate, write your observations, and become wiser. Free of diversions, your soul enters rejuvenation for the coming battles of the year, spiritual and otherwise.
Winter might be a pretty awful time of the year, but you can still use it to your advantage.
When spring comes at long last, you’ll be ready.