It would be nice if the holiday season went in an orderly fashion, one event to the next, with perfect orbs of celebration repeating themselves in different colors. But that’s fantasy. What really happens is more like the whirlwind of leaves or snowflakes spiraling beyond control because there is very little you actually do control in this busy season. Still, there are things you can do to tame the chaos enough to enjoy the ride.
Lower expectations. Advertising is selling “perfect” holidays because they want sales, not because it’s right for you this year. Memories are edited by our emotions. Now is the time to talk to family about what is important to each member (cookie baking? game night? visit to an attraction?) and plan on getting each one’s top item in the calendar. You might decide to scratch some things off your list of things to do. Fill in your calendar now with the things you value or they might be lost in the flurry of invitations and demands.
Now is the time to decidehow to handle gift giving in the corporate world. Your coworkers may celebrate different holidays than you do or have different customs for the same holiday. Corporate culture will vary on expected gifts and value but knowing those expectations now helps you figure out what you will do about it. Last minute gifts are not usually impressive, but they invariably are expensive.
Most of us haven’t hauled out the decorations yet. Now is the perfect time to start eliminating things you no longer use in the home or your workspace. Don’t put the tinsel garland on top of the piles if you can get rid of those piles a little bit each day. Do the old “store it-give it-toss it” routine and clean the spot the pile was on. If you have to store it, put it where it belongs. If you don’t have a place for it, why are you keeping it? In the workplace and in the home the piles do more than get in the way, they are a safety hazard and an image destroyer. If you need everything in that pile you should make a home for it so it doesn’t get lost.
Start a change jar if you haven’t already and put extra cash into it. This is your “mad money” for indulgences. When it is gone, no indulgence until more is in the jar. Don’t wreck your household budget for frappuccinos with friends. Speaking of budgets; know yours and its limit. Keep January bills in mind when you use that credit card. It’s easier to make your financial plan now, including expected work expenses. Then you can use that plan as a guide to keep you out of impulse spending traps.
There’s no way to avoid all holiday stress, but doing what you can to anticipate it and lessen it will make your holidays more enjoyable this year, both at work and at home.
We are at the beginning of the flu season and you know the drill:wash your hands frequently, cough into your elbow, clean surfaces, get a flu shot…stay healthy. In the workplace, illness affects more than the one feeling sick because you are faced with staying home or spreading germs. It’s a tough call, because we are surrounded by invisible invaders bringing illness all the time. Stress is known to weaken our ability to fight those invaders. I am a huge believer in this. The minute I feel overworked or overwhelmed, my throat starts hurting. Since we spend most of our time at work, stress in the workplace can be a huge factor in whether or not we get sick. Keeping the stress down will help us stay healthy. Question is, how do we do that?
You can only control what you are able to choose. You might not have a choice about where your desk is, but you do have a choice about keeping it clean. Air quality is usually beyond your control, but you might be able to have a plant that helps purify it, and you certainly can take walks outside. Grouchy co-workers might dump on you, but you could use that to look for ways to make things better.
Decide now what the holidays will look like, and be realistic about what you do and why you do it. Don’t plan for “perfection.” Plan for flexible family time and let the mishaps become stories you will laugh about next year. What holiday work commitments will be expected? Do you know how to handle gift giving in the corporate world? It might seem early to talk about it, but you will have less stress if you know what to do.
Remember that stress is not bad in small doses. It’s like exercise for your soul in a lot of ways. The problems come when stress is accumulated upon stress and doesn’t stop. Figuring out how to keep that stress an occasional workout will keep YOU healthy and at work.
I am a member of the Career Collective, a group of resume writers and career coaches. Each month, all members discuss a topic. Please follow our tweets on Twitter #careercollective This month we are discussing helping job seekers stay focused and encouraged during the holiday season. I encourage you to visit the links below to read other members’ posts as well! +++++
The holidays can be one of the worst times to find yourself out of a job.
Not only do you face pressure to attend family functions and buy presents, but it can also be very difficult to get an interview during the short work weeks, and all the vacation time that tends to pop up for recruiters and HR staff during winter. Still, it’s important that you don’t give up your job search over the holidays simply because people are hard to reach. In fact, this time can be an excellent point to begin a job search, for several reasons. First, you have the greatest opportunity for networking during the holiday season. If you’re attending a lot of parties and functions, you’re guaranteed to run into acquaintances that may or may not know you’re looking for employment. Go to dinner parties and family gatherings as often as you can. Be ready to pass out your business card or resume at a moment’s notice. You’d be surprised how often a conversation over a punch bowl can serve as a preliminary interview. You’ll be exposed to plenty of people in a variety of fields. It’s an excellent way to build some connections. Another often overlooked benefit of job hunting during the holidays is that most people don’t do it. Because so many quit just before the holiday season, or put off hunting for a job until after the new year, you have a great opportunity to get yourself out there before the glut of new applicants drifts in. Work with HR employees and recruiters now, while everyone else is still polishing their resumes to show on January 3rd. You’ll be forefront in everybody’s mind, even if you don’t get the interview until later. December is also a great time for you to work on putting together a great presentation online. Because so many hiring executives will be traveling or spending vacation time at their homes, email and the internet may be the best way to get in touch with them. Make sure you have a great presenceon all the social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also put together a slide show resume on SlideShare. You never know – an employer may get your cover letter while he’s eating Christmas dinner, but just because he’s not in the office doesn’t mean he won’t read it. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged, no matter how long the job search takes. If you convince yourself that you’re never going to land an interview, or get your foot in the door of a new career, you probably won’t. Perseverance will serve you much better than luck. If you give up on the job hunt until it’s business as usual in the places you want to work, chances are that they’ll have already filled the position you want to occupy. Treat the holiday season like any other job hunting time, and give it everything you’ve got.
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