5 Steps to Effectively Manage Holiday Expectations
Yours *and* Everyone Else’s
Last time you had time to breathe and look around, it was the beginning of August and you were thinking about summer and trying to squeeze one last vacation in.
You looked up today and BAM! It’s November? How did that happen?
Now your to-do list has just tripled as you think of your holiday commitments and expectations on top of what you’ve been pushing off to tomorrow.
How are you going to manage it all?
Grab some paper and a pen. Sit down in your favorite chair. Take a deep breath, and let’s figure this out.
That sense of panic you felt a moment ago? That’s you putting pressure on yourself to be something you don’t have to be.
According to Brene’ Brown, “When we develop expectations, we paint a vivid picture in our head of how things are going to be, look and feel, and—riskiest of all—how the people around us will behave and respond.”1
You know you need:
• to eat,
• personal down time,
• time to run your errands,
• time for your profession, whether it be going to an office or keeping your house in order and chasing after the kids.
What if we got crazy and said, “After my “needs,” I have two hours to get extra things done today. In that time I can choose to do…”
Wait. What?! I can choose?!
Yes. You can.
Honestly. What will happen if you cut your Christmas letter list to those who are outside of your immediate circle? They already know what’s going on in your life anyway, right?
Don’t want them to feel left out? Send them a card with hugs and kisses and a signature.
You’re not comfortable with that? That’s ok.
Let’s take a step back.
Pull that paper and pen out.
Close your eyes for just a minute and get a crystal-clear picture of what you see the next two months looking like.
Write it down. In detail. Describe it.
Now. When you think about that picture, what are the expectations you place on yourself for:
• when you’ll have this finished
• what the atmosphere will be like when it’s finished
• what people will say about it when it’s finished
• how you’ll feel when it’s finished
• how you’ll feel while you’re getting it done
• what impact getting it done will have on you and those you love
Oops. Threw one in there.
We work so hard for that Norman Rockwell painting that we can make everyone around us miserable in the process. Is that worth it?
Let’s go back to your description.
Here are five steps to work within the time you have, maintain your – and everyone else’s – sanity, and have realistic expectations:
1. Recognize that everything on your list is a want. Those items are quite desirable, even important, yet it’s highly unlikely that there is anything in your description that is life changing. Wants are not bad; they’re just aspirations.
2. Take a minute to figure out why those items are on your list. You get some sort of emotional payoff from everything on your list. That’s not a negative; it’s how we operate as human beings. You can figure out what that payoff is. Does it make you feel valuable? Helpful? Charitable? Smart? Strong? Unique? You are the only one who can answer this question.
3. Now that you have the combination of your pretty picture list and your associated emotional payoffs, prioritize them. If it’s easiest to start with the least important, do that. For me, those middle items get a little sticky, so I take the easier route of the top three and the bottom three – then I’m left with the brain and heart work.
4. Start with your top six items. How long will each one take? Can you work on one while another is in process? (for example, can you hang some ornaments, wrap a present, or address some cards while some cookies are baking?)
5. How much time did you decide you have for these items per day/week? Decide which item(s) will be accomplished when. Be realistic with your time – remember, your goal is to reduce your stress and the stress of those around you.
6. BONUS! Let the other items on your list go and share your plan with those around you. If you get the gift of some surprise time, you can work on some of them if you want *or* you can enjoy the season with those you love instead.
Here’s wishing you a happy, and less stressful, holiday season!
1 Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/setting-great-expectations-expectations-and-self-worth#ixzz5Ve277rw6