As the holiday season approaches, some of us anticipate them gleefully and others with nerve wracking dread. How will I fit even more into my already jam packed schedule? It’s simply impossible to add another thing to an ever growing list. Everyone expects me to manage it all!
Here’s another perspective. Stop doing something. Whether it is hosting a family dinner, sending holiday cards or spending beyond your means, eliminate at least one activity that is no longer meaningful and inform those who will be affected in advance. Set your intention. Less stress for you also means less tension for your guests, family members, co-workers…your immediate world. Ask for help and take advantage of it. No one ever perished by eating desserts from a bakery rather than homemade treats.
Several years ago a colleague mentioned to me that she no longer looked forward to Thanksgiving dinner with her extended family. I asked her what in particular made her feel this way. Was it the shopping, cleaning, hosting, etc.? No, it was the time consuming stuffed celery preparation that put her on edge. Surprised as I was that a professional woman, managing teams of associates, had been taken down by a vegetable, I was even more curious. I asked her what had made this task so demanding. She described the process in painstaking detail. When I suggested a seemingly simple way to wash, cut and stuff said stalks, she was stunned and somewhat embarrassed. She said that she and her mother-in-law had always done it this way and she’d never thought about doing it differently. Perhaps in her early years as a young wife in the shadows of an experienced cook, she listened and followed her instructions without thinking, but liberation was at hand. In fact, when she hesitantly offered up the possibility of streamlining their technique, they both enjoyed a good laugh over it. How often do you check out and not question the rules, process, or activity you are engaged in? Is it your intention to not make waves and therefore, take a back seat by default? How can you be a better participant or leader while still being part of the team? When is your contribution well intentioned rather than a controlling behavior? Is it the activity itself or the people you are engaging with that is stressful?
• Choose one activity that you want to modify or eliminate
• Inform the people being impacted
• Anticipate possible push-back and script your response in advance
• Prepare for the possibility that no one except YOU really cares
• Enjoy the relief!