Harsh reality: the holiday season can be a pressure-filled time where there’s more to do than time to do it.
You have some serious expectations for your holiday experience. You want the mantle just right, the lights on the tree to glow, and to see your loved one's face totally light up when she says "How did you know that this is what I've always wanted?" But the truth is sometimes the holidays leave us feeling more stressed and frazzled than joyous and peaceful. Here are six tips to avoid becoming the Grinch this Christmas and finding your joy:
1. Release yourself from doing things you’re “supposed to do.” I have friends who have a blow up Christmas tree. It was meant to be a giant cartoonish Christmas tree on someone’s lawn but it’s in their living room and they love it. They never got excited about having a real tree, decorating it, taking it back down, etc. They decided that at their house, this is their preference. There are no hard and fast rules about the holiday season. Discover the traditions that you love. Implement those and don’t worry about the rest. Release yourself from what you’re “supposed” to love about the holidays and do it your way.
"There are no hard and fast rules about the holiday season."
2. Set a budget. We can all get carried away with spending this time of year. Oh that plastic just doesn’t feel like it’s real money sometimes! Before getting in the heat of the moment at T.J. Maxx, decide what your maximum amount to spend is based on what your family can afford. Then work backwards. Who needs gifts? How much should be spent on your child’s teacher or your nephew? Stick to your budget so when you get that bill in January you won’t be doubly depressed that the holidays are over and reality has hit.
3. Jot down a “if I could do the holidays over” list ahead of time. Imagine yourself in January. What will you wish you had done differently over the holidays? More baking? Spent less money? Watched more classic movies? Gone caroling around the neighborhood? This ‘imagine being in the future and looking back technique’ can help you get perspective on how you really want to spend your time.
4. Join in with your loved ones' favorite holiday activities. Do your kids love driving around looking at the Christmas lights? Does your husband get misty watching It’s A Wonderful Life each year? Pay attention to those things that symbolize the holidays to your nearest and dearest. Make sure to include those to make really special memories. Be intentional with your time during this season.
5. Take some “you” time. When you’re the one doing the cooking, the shopping, the wrapping and the planning, you can run out of holiday cheer pretty fast. So delegate some of your to-do's to kids big enough to help or your spouse or other family members. Now make a list of ten activities you would enjoy but tell yourself you don't have time for. Then pick one of those self-nurturing activities and do it.
6. Remember that there’s no such thing as perfect even if Instagram tells you otherwise. Perfect is a myth. There’s no way to live up to the image that Pinterest, Food Network, Martha Stewart or that girl you went to high school with create. The most important aspect of the holidays is to remember why we are celebrating in the first place and to spend time with the ones we love.
Bottom line: the joy of the holidays can quickly evaporate if we set expectations too high for the things that don't ultimately matter. Slow down and savor time with family and don't sacrifice your sanity just to make sure everyone gets 2 dozen toys on Christmas morning. Pay attention to your happiness meter. If you’re not getting your needs met it’s much harder for you to give to the ones in your life that you love.
Still searching for the perfect gift for someone on your list? Registration for my 21-day goal setting course, Get Your Dream Off the Ground, opens January 1. Contact me to learn how you can gift the course.