Season of Joy? Three Ways of Making Sure You Enjoy the Holidays!
At this time of the year, I find myself and many of my clients swamped with holiday parties, end-of-year tasks, and the focus on getting things completed before a period where many organizations slow down or go on vacation. I find myself swept up in an almost irrational fear that I won't get it all done. I am not sure what the "all" is, but that idea hangs out in the back of my mind. It taps me on the shoulder continuously, like a bored kid on a road trip when their iPad runs out of battery.
So how to deal with this?
You Don't Have to Do it All.
Make healthy decisions about what you are going to do and not do. Spoiler alert: anything you don't do before the holidays, which need to get done will still be there in January!
Sort the tasks into:
- Need to do into things that must be done by the end of the year for work – e.g., paying bills, renewing contracts, legal or other requirements.
Tasks that would be good to do but could wait. Today, I had two meetings cancel. As much as I was looking forward to catching up with clients, we didn't have anything time-sensitive. It could wait. As an old boss used to say, when people cancel, I get the "gift of time."
Tasks that give you pleasure. Don't put this in the "don't open until January" pile. I love to write, so I prioritized that above some other things intentionally. Allowing ourselves to do something we love feeds our soul and can make us more productive.
Things that you feel you "should do." I usually send out Christmas cards to friends and family around the world. This year I realized I could spend two evenings writing them by hand. I also realized that I felt I should do this, or I wouldn't be a good family member, friend, or even person! At the same time, I realized that it was not stupid! If my friends don't want to be my friend because this year I missed the Christmas card maybe they are not my friends! As a compromise, I will send an email with my news and an electronic holiday card. Don't "should" yourself.
You can actually get more done by doing less.
And if you don't believe me, check this out from Stanford!
I find that this time of the year, I am running around like I have drunk two pots of coffee instead of the two cups I usually do. It is a manic and crazy rush. Instead:
- Slow down. We have seen from research that many experts seen multi-tasking effectively as a myth. Being more intentional, focused, and committed to a task can prevent rework, get better quality, and get more people on board.
- Take time to reflect, be happy doing nothing, and even take a short nap.
- Enjoy some peace. Meditation for a few minutes can help set you up. Meditation doesn't have to mean that you sit on a pillow in a zen temple. It can mean you focus on your breath as you walk. You could close your eyes and imagine a quiet place or someone or something that makes you happy. You can do this on your commute if you take public transport, or if you are traveling for work. Don't attempt while driving! Instead of powering up the laptop or checking the phone, check into yourself.
It seems counterintuitive,
Find the Joy in the Season.
We spend a lot of time buying presents, going to holiday parties, and decorating our houses and offices. Whether you are Christian or not, the message of the Season can be about joy. But it doesn't have to be the only time we connect with that feeling. Just this weekend, I saw three mini-episodes, which brought me joy.
- While parked outside a thrift store (yes, I like to buy junk!), I saw three young men in their late teens. All three wore suits. They went into the store, and then came out each having purchased and now wearing Santa hats. I don't know what the story was, but they were having fun. By observing them, I got a laugh by seeing them having a good time.
- On the same day, I drove past a couple of boys, who looked like brothers, waiting to cross the road. The older one was being sensible and looking out for traffic. The younger one was doing the "floss" the dance that kids were doing. It made me laugh out loud.
- At a conference I recently attended, a current graduate student asked the table for advice about what to do in her career. The group told her a few things – look for opportunities, get real-life experience, send thank you notes, but what was interesting was her enthusiasm and joy. She was like a fountain bubbling with energy. It made me smile and think about how I used to be like that about a hundred years ago and how I still needed to remember to reconnect with that!
Happiness and joy lead to better engagement and results. It's science!
Enjoy these times. Reach out to others who may not be having such a good time. And find the joy in your life and around you so you can enjoy the holidays and every day. And remember, 'tis the Season to keep calm and carry on, not go crazy and collapse in a heap on New Years Day!