I remember reading an article once about how much Mariah Carey loves Christmas. She said she’s like a big kid and admittedly goes overboard every holiday season with decorations and festivities. She has assistants arrive early to her Aspen home to decorate the entire house like a winter wonderland, which includes turning her bedroom into a snow-clad North Pole. When arriving at the airport, she is even greeted by limo playing holiday tunes and handed a glass of champagne.
Seeing as how Mimi reportedly makes somewhere around half a million a year in royalties from her version of “All I Want for Christmas”, it’s no wonder she loves the holidays and has the resources to manifest her sugarplum visions each year. Until we have our own hit holiday tune, we may not be able to do things exactly like Mariah, but we do have the very same power to define and design OUR vision of our dream holidays and dream month. This weekend, or perhaps over the long Thanksgiving holiday, consider dedicating at least an hour to creating your vision for the next month. You can do this on your own or get your family involved. Grab your favorite warm festive drink, your laptop (I use Evernote for all my planning) or a plain old notebook, your calendar, and find a comfortable place where you can do some uninterrupted planning.
As you sit down, channel your inner Pop Diva, and begin dreaming, designing, and planning your December. Taking the time to get centered and clear before the new month hits is a great way to reduce your stress and bring more fun and joy to your holidays! To help you to brainstorm, here are 10 questions to consider before the new month:
1. What tasks do I still “have to” get done this holiday season? Creating a gift list, shopping, wrapping, cooking, holiday cards, travel, hosting a party, social/work/school events? Get it all on paper so you can get clear about what you have on your plate this season.
2. What non-essential or less important tasks can I put of until the new year to free up time for the things I want to do over the next couple months? Often, much of our holiday stress is caused by trying to pile our holiday tasks on top of our regular schedule and commitments. Remember this mantra – you can do it all, but not all at once!
3. What would make this month special and memorable? Are there new traditions you would like to start in your family? Perhaps there is something you’ve always wanted to do but have never been able to do it or something you used to do every holiday season, but haven’t done in a while. Think big, think fun, think joyous!
4. What do I dread every holiday season? Be real honest with yourself and just vent about the things that drag you down during the holidays. Brainstorm ways that you can delegate them (your kids don’t look too busy right now), make them fun (holiday wrapping party, anyone?), or just dump all together (let go of the guilt – the best gift you can give to those around you is always your authenticity and true happiness).
5. What are the most time-consuming or energy-draining holiday tasks that I do each year (that you enjoy and want to do but must be done by you)? Once you have this list, brainstorm ways that you can create more efficient systems for these tasks. Examine your processes and don’t get stuck doing things a certain way because you’ve always done them that way. Can you do more shopping online? Go digital with your Christmas cards? Group your errands together?
6. What things on my calendar this month are “shoulds” or obligations that I can let go of or decline this year? Again, don’t “should” all over yourself this year. To make room for your dream holidays, let go of the things you do just because you feel like you have to. Have a short, simple script prepared for declining events this year. Usually, “I’m so sorry, I can’t make it this year” is sufficient.
7. What are my anticipated challenges this month and what is my plan for navigating them? Knowing ahead of time what you are up against and having a plan for managing those challenges helps you to be empowered and prepared instead of blindsided and overwhelmed.
8. How am I going to maintain my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health this month? Don’t make the mistake of putting off your health until the New Year. You will have more energy, sanity, and peace if you commit to taking time for yourself each day. This is not selfish; it is absolutely essential for a happy, healthy holiday season. Schedule your workouts, eat unprocessed nutrient-dense foods to off-set the party fare, limit your alcohol and sugar consumption, hydrate, get lots of sleep…you know the drill.
9. How do I want to want to feel this month? Instead of asking what you have to do over the next few weeks, ask yourself how you want to FEEL. Joyous? Peaceful? Happy? Connected? Relaxed? Write these down and post them somewhere or carry them around with you as a reminder of what is truly important to you. These feelings are the filter through which you can make decisions about what you want to do and how you want to respond to things over the holidays. Use these desired feelings as your guiding light throughout the holidays and make these feelings your goal instead of measuring your success by how many things you checked off your list.
10. How can I be more present, attentive, engaged this month? If you knew these were your last holidays, you’d certainly put down that cell phone and hold your loved ones close. Life is precious, life is unpredictable…give yourself and those around you the gift of your presence and love this month. Your kids may tell you they want an iPad, but more than that they really want your undivided attention and playfulness. Cool presents are nice, but eye contact, affection, and feeling loved and appreciated is what all of us REALLY want. Commit to unplugging and connecting this month and beyond.
Be sure to communicate and share your monthly plan/thoughts/vision/goals with your family and friends. Review what you’ve written each morning throughout the month to keep them fresh in your mind. Just as you are the designer of your life, YOU are the designer of your holidays! Put down that cell phone, pick up that glass of champagne, and make some peppermint-kissed holiday memories that will live in your heart forever.
PS – Reduce your stress this holiday season and beyond! Join me for my Time and Life Hacks class at Happiness U on Saturday, December 7th at 1:30pm. I’ll be sharing tons of tools and strategies for maximizing your time and living a more efficient, productive, and FUN life! I’ll be sharing bonus tips and apps just for the holidays. Reserve Your Spot