This time of year is legendary for having too much to do but not enough time, too much to buy but not enough money, and too much stress but you are supposed to be happy. It affects our workplace, our home life, and our future because stress affects the health of the body. So what does the busy executive focused on moving up the career path and having a life at the same time do about feeling so bad?
Rethink Your Expectations
Sometimes it helps to write down “the way the holidays are supposed to be” in every detail you can come up with. Then look at your fairy tale and notice how many of those expectations are not in your control or don’t matter as much as they once did.
Some families and individuals decide to pick the top priorities for their season and forget about doing the rest of it. What would your holiday look like if everybody picked one thing that was important to them? What is it about that thing that makes it important? It could be that the major cookie house competition was fun because it was goofy, not because you used home-baked cookies. Graham crackers and fruity cereals work just as well for goofy fun and are easier to do. A holiday without so much burden on people is enjoyable and refreshing, the way it’s supposed to be.
Accept Your Imperfections
This kind of goes along with expectations, but on a personal level. If you think that people come to your house to see how beautifully decorated and organized it is, you are mistaken. Most folks don’t care about the details: they want to feel like you like them more than you like your house. I tell myself that at least they will feel better about the mess they left at home when they see mine. People aren’t comfortable with perfection because people aren’t perfect.
At the office, the same thing happens when we mistakenly think we have to have our act totally together before we are accepted. But think about the people you work with — who is more approachable, the perfectionist pretender or the person who accepts their mistakes with a laugh and does what they can to learn from them?
Orient Your Focus
Whatever the holiday, there’s a reason for it. If you celebrate that holiday, then use the celebration to think about the reason it exists in your life. For most cultures, the holidays are times to reorient the focus to what is important in life. It’s a pause and a reminder, giving time to figure out what your non-holiday life should look like.
That means work, whatever your career is. Pick one thing in your career goals to do after the holidays are over (maybe consult a career coach) and let the things you bring out of a less-stressed holiday get you going in the weeks afterward.