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Coping with Shorter Days and Bad Weather

You don’t have to go south for the winter to thrive. A lot of what it takes is a matter of what you are telling yourself and what you do with your time.

It’s that time of year again.  The days are getting short enough that it’s dark when I have dinner.   I need to put on a jacket–or take an umbrella–when I leave the house.  It’s just a matter of weeks and the gloom of winter will be all around us for anyone living in the Northern Hemisphere.

One of the sweetest pieces of being able to leave the workforce and “retire” is that you don’t have to stay where you are when the weather gets bad.  But do you really need to run away?  A lot of what makes winter unbearable is in your strategy rather than the weather report.   So before you start packing the shorts and swimsuit for a stay at an RV park in Palm Springs, give your attitude a good tune-up:

  • Are you seeing yourself as a”victim” of your climate? You cast yourself as an aggrieved party when you operate from the idea that “This is wrong; I shouldn’t have to put up with this.”   Come on.  You put up with a lot worse weather than this over the years and have great stories to tell because of it.  Bad weather is an inconvenience, yes.  But a crime?  Nah.
  • What are you doing with your time?   Much of what we blame on the weather we may as well blame on ourselves.  If you plan “fair weather” activities for “foul weather’ times of the year, you’re asking for it.  Identify projects, activities, new learning experiences that work with the weather instead of in spite of it.  If you are a creative, this is the time of year to work on something especially bright.  If you need to get the photo files organized and culled, this is the time of year to do it.  You get a job that’s been on your mind done, but you also get to re-experience the sunny days and fun adventures that you captured with the camera.  Look for projects that will be antidotes for the dark. Even better, look for projects that require this weather.  It’s hard to learn to snowshoe in the summer.
  • How’s your sense of purpose?  Focus on the everyday contrariness of life–like a downpour as you head out the door for a lunch appointment–is usually part of a meager life plan.  Since you aren’t thinking about much else, you fret about the weather (or what the neighbor’s dog is doing in your yard).  This is the stuff from which unhappy old people grow.  Do you really want to do that?  To be that?

When you are working on something bigger than your comfort–that you believe in and want to make happen–you lose track of the weather just like you lose track of time.   You work in the middle of the night and have no idea of whether it’s 4 AM or 6PM.  Finding your purpose beats a month long trip to the Bahamas for being able to deal with the weather.  Before you sign on with a realtor to look for a second home “somewhere warm” get serious about defining your purpose and then get on with honoring it.  You’ll be amazed at how much “better” your local weather is.

Yes, it’s nice to “get away.”   If there’s money for it and somewhere you really want to see, go.  But don’t go “to get away from the weather.”  No place on earth has perfect weather.  You can be perfectly content regardless of the weather if you pay attention to what you need to make your life fulfilling in bigger ways.


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