It happens every year. December comes immediately after Thanksgiving and bam!
You’d think I’d know this by now. After all, the holiday season apparently begins sometime in early October with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannauka and everything else tossed in a potentially stress-inducing fiesta.
Leading this ever-advancing tide of pressure are the many perfection messages:
Have a hassle-free holiday
Make the perfect holiday meal
Decorations you can do on a dime
In that moment when I realize the year is almost over, I typically react in one of two ways. Sometimes the barrage is a challenge – I’m going to take this season by storm! – and out come the notepads, smartphones, and the determination to micromanage the heck out of the next few weeks.
At other times, it’s all the reason I need to crawl back under the covers and pretend none of it’s happening.
Either way, the idea that there’s some perfect person out there floating through the stress in a cloud of peppermint-scented-calm is enough to make me throw up my hands.
I can’t do a perfect holiday.
I can’t do a perfect work-place, either.
Thinking about seasonal stress got me to thinking about how we tend to see stress as an absolute (stress vs. calm) year-round. This mindset can cause conflict because it focuses us on a given solution (no stress) without letting us consider where our focus belongs.
Those perfection messages reinforce this notion that it’s an all-or-nothing situation. Either you’re a stressed out mess or not. And there are so many opportunities to feel behind or lacking.
Either you’re a stressed-out mess or you’re calm, organized, filing those emails as they pop up, managing your time to the maximum, and networking after hours. Then you’ll set some new year goals and you’ll be on your way. But really, no matter how on-top of things you are, the pendulum swings back and forth because life happens.
We are surrounded by the many. Many ways to improve, many ways to succeed. We are told everyone has the potential to be President, run a start-up, make a million (over and over), and be happy. And it’s all supposed to be easy a la “ten simple steps and you can be the leader” or “want to succeed? just do this”
This season, I’m looking for a way to reduce the many mindset and be open to focusing on one area at a time.
For instance, there are three events that all have holiday significance to me and- the calendar gods must be crazy – this year they’re all on the same weekend. I began trying to figure out which one we could do on Friday – Saturday – Sunday – all in the name of holiday spirit. Then a little voice in my head said just pick one.
One is a realistic goal.
With one, I can still do some of the normal things that make a weekend work for me. Like buy milk.
One got me thinking.
When I have a head full of to-do’s, it’s helps to dump them all down on one piece of paper and then choose one place to start.
When my day is overloaded, it helps to pick one think to accomplish that day and do it first.
When I need to have a difficult conversation with someone, it helps to pick one point of focus instead of trying to address all the problems in a single conversation.
One is about focus.
As someone who tends towards the page of goals, I don’t think this will be easy for me, but I’ve experimented in small ways and the Holidays provide another sanity-saving opportunity to experiment with one.
Are you a one or many person? What have you learned and what would you share?