Here come the holidays. As a kid that made run in circles shouting “Yippee!” As a working adult, it makes me want to curl into the fetal position. All the “have to do’s” and “want to do’s” and “really should do’s” and “everyone expects me to do’s” – it’s a loaded time of year to be sure.It seems like October hits and then it is full steam ahead into December. And I am being literal in my metaphor of full steam ahead. I have had many holidays where, by the end, I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. That is certainly no way to start the New Year!So, how can you turn holiday havoc into holiday harmony? Here are two key reminders that will help you manage holiday stress by staying focused on the “vital few” rather than becoming buried under the “trivial many.”Holiday Harmony Tip #1: Remember Who You Are!Remember who you are?!? That may seem like a crazy reminder. Of course you know who you are! But I can tell you from my own experience and through the work I do with my clients, there is something about the holidays that gives us personal and professional amnesia. Now I know some of the memory loss comes from having too many cosmos at the company holiday party, but there is a lot more than that assaulting your sense of self during this crazy time.
Professionally, your normal work routine often becomes completely out of whack. Either you are working late, overwhelmed with last-minute projects or filling in for vacationing staff; or you’re the one on vacation, leaving work and a big part of your everyday identity back at the office.Personally, your “self” stands a fair change of getting blown apart by the holiday’s emotional land mines. George Burns once said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” Unfortunately, during the holidays, they usually end up in your kitchen, bringing family members and memories that can make you instantly regress to that insecure 8-year-old you thought you tucked away years ago.So, in all this change, how do we hold on to your “self?”Heighten your self-awareness this season then make realistic holiday plans by leveraging your strengths and weaknesses. If you are a big-picture thinker, don’t put yourself in charge of planning the menu. If you are all about hammering out fine details, don’t expect to get next year’s revenue goals sketched out while half of your team is on vacation. Be true to yourself and adjust your expectations accordingly.Holiday Harmony Tip #2: Plan, Plan, Plan!We all know that planning is critical for any transition time in business whether it’s starting a new department, hiring a new executive director or launching a new product. Given the work I do, I see first-hand the damage done when companies undergo a major change without a plan in place to manage it. You know the old saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Well, what are the holidays except one transition after another?So plan, plan, plan!In terms of personal planning, I’m not talking about fine detail planning we all have to do, like gift-giving and travel logistics. Those are not plans, they are action steps. Like business plans, personal plans for the holidays need to be driven by your larger goals. Set realistic goals (like staying physically healthy or sticking to your budget), then create a plan that includes action steps for achieving them.If you get overwhelmed by requests, temptations or invitations, ask yourself: “Is this going to get me closer to what I want or farther from it?”
At work, planning tends to come to a screeching halt this time of year. With office parties and vacation time, most of us write off the end of November and all of December as time lost. But, the holidays can be one of the best times to focus on planning. Of course, reviewing strategic plans and planning for the upcoming year is basic fourth quarter protocol. But there is another kind of planning that often gets overlooked. Ask yourself: What goals do you want to accomplish during the holidays (other than to avoid wearing a lampshade at the office party)? Pick one or two goals that have been nagging you all year and leverage the down-time at work to create a plan, write down the action steps and add a little success to your stocking this year.What do the holidays mean for you? Taking time off from work? Getting ready to travel? Family coming to visit? Whatever you have in store, you can transform holiday havoc into holiday harmony by staying true to who you are and planning accordingly.
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