A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

01 December 2009

Holiday Strategies for Keeping Your Balance

If you are striving for a balance between faith, family and career, there’s a good chance the holiday season is your most challenging time. Although intended to be about faith and family, the holidays too often become a jumble of events, tasks and chores that leave us drained of money and energy. If this sounds familiar, and you’d like this year to be different, here are some strategies to try.

Set an intention. Before you start making your plans, decide what you’d like to do, feel, and experience. Do you want to stay home, or travel? Whom do you want to be sure to see or visit? What are your “must dos” — those events or activities that make you think, “it just wouldn’t be the holidays without that?” Do you love a busy calendar, or would you prefer to spend a more quiet time with just a few loved ones? Be specific. The more clear you are about what you want, the less likely you will be to let other people’s priorities drive your planning.

Keep good company. You should never have to do a holiday-related task alone unless you really want to. Shop with a friend, cook with your kids, decorate with your spouse or your family. If a seasonal task feels like a chore, don’t do it. You won’t miss the chore, but by doing it, you might be missing something a lot better.

Be realistic. Chances are there will be far more opportunities than your calendar or your pocketbook can handle. Choose only those that fit with your intentions. Be sure to consider your regular life obligations. Your priorities don’t need to change just because your halls have been decked with boughs of holly, and you certainly won’t find yourself with tons of extra time or cash. Let your intention for the season drive what you do, and also what you don’t do.

Say no! If an invitation doesn’t match your intentions, politely decline. Everyone else is just as overbooked as you are, and they will forgive you for missing their parties. We tend to worry a lot about what we aren’t doing, and that distracts us from the joy of what we are doing. Make choices on purpose and be at peace with them. Save your apologies for actual mistakes.

Understand “balance.” Balance does not mean spending exactly one third of every day on each of your three top priorities. It means being true to what’s really important to you and doing the best you can. Schedule the important things first—your family time, your “me” time, and your fun time. Then worry about all that other stuff.

The holiday season gets more hype than a mega-blockbuster summer movie, and it’s easy to get carried away with hopes, expectations and commitments. Take time to connect to the reasons you have to be thankful and celebrate, then create your experience in that light. Happy Holidays!

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