Oh, the holidays!
They are meant to be a time of joy, celebration and togetherness. But for some, the holidays are very difficult. We are running from one party to another, preparing for out of town guests, and squeezing in some last-minute shopping, all while fulfilling our roles as partners, parents and children. Many of us take time off, hoping to enjoy the holiday. But the time moves fast, and we easily get lost in the shuffle. In the end, we feel burnt out and regret not slowing down to enjoy our loved ones and simply relax!
Thanksgiving seems to be the official start of the “holidays.” Soon enough, it’s December which tends to be full of traveling, celebrating and tying up the loose ends of the year. If you’re anything like me, Thanksgiving crept up on you this year and you had no time to prepare or set your intentions for the holiday season.
With another month of celebration ahead of us, there’s still time! It can be helpful to take some time to think about what the holidays mean to you and what you would like you and your family to treasure and value about this time of year.
Decide what values support your vision for the holiday season
A value is something you personally believe is important to the way you live and work. We choose our values by thinking about what is going to make us happy and help us live our best lives. When what we actually do matches up with our values, we are typically satisfied.
So what are your holiday values? This will be different for everyone, but it’s important to get clear on what they are for you. Below are some values to get you thinking. Which are important to you?
Can you narrow it down to three main values?
What words do you want to describe your holiday?
Considering the values you have come up with, add some descriptive feeling words that help portray what you hope to feel rather than what you want to do. This might be, I want to feel magical, present, warm, satisfied, accepted, recharged, purposeful. When you think about the things you look forward to around the holidays, how do they make you feel?
Write these words down.
Decide on the feelings you want to experience, and work to find them.
Examine your "wants" & "shoulds" (aka, desires & obligations)
Much of the conversation around the holidays is about the stress, guilt and obligations we experience. We balance financial strain, manage family expectations and feel the pressure to keep it all together. One way to manage this is to overplan and try to make everyone else happy to keep the peace.
Take a minute to write down all of the things you want to do and all of the things you feel you should do – the amount of presents you should gift, the types of meals you should cook, who you should spend Christmas day with... What are all the things?
Now take this list of desires and obligations and examine each of them.
How does this match up with your values?
How does this list compare to the words you wrote down about how you want to feel?
When you are planning your holiday, remember the values and feelings you wrote down. Do you need to make any adjustments to make your "wants" and "shoulds" match up better with your values and feelings? Unmet expectations can lead to huge let-downs and disappointments, causing undue stress during the holiday season.