It’s the busiest and most expensive month of the year for many people. But it’s also supposed to be the most wonderful. In December, we’re often stretched so thin that we finish out the year feeling tired, broke, overwhelmed or frustrated rather than grateful. This year, I find myself pushing back against the holiday hustle and bustle and being more intentional about making space for what matters. Here are a few things I’m trying:
STOP. Don’t just slow down. Technology has given us great conveniences, but it’s also made us more distracted and disconnected. When was the last time someone had your complete, undivided attention? How often do you communicate with your spouse or kids but keep one eye on your cell phone, waiting for that email or text response? I’ve started aiming for 20 minutes per night with each of my kids where I can be 100 percent focused on them individually – not an easy task for a father of four, a husband and business owner! I check my phone, personal worries and ulterior motives at the door, and I just sit with them. We talk about what’s going on in their lives and what we’re each learning. Recently, several of us have chosen to delete social media apps from our phones, and we’ve instated a household cell phone curfew. I’ve found it really helps us focus on each other and communicate better.
Don’t do everything. Traditions can be wonderful. Making memories with loved ones is meaningful. But I’d encourage you to simplify just how many things you do this December, and make sure they support your most important values. Maybe this year, you choose not to put Christmas lights on the house. Or mail out family Christmas cards. Or cut a tree down yourself. There’s nothing wrong with declining a holiday party invitation or skipping baking cookies if you have too much on your plate. Then again, maybe those are the activities your kids love most or that teach important family history. Holiday priorities will vary in each household. Just make sure your family talks about the options and decides what’s most important to say ‘yes’ to this year.
Fill your cup. Anese Cavanaugh is an author, speaker, consultant and creator of the Intentional Energetic Presence Method®. At a conference earlier this year, she spoke about self-care being a superpower of all great leaders, and I believe that applies to the home as much as the office. Our attitude and ability to respond lovingly to those around us depends on our physical, mental and emotional state. Being present and grateful this holiday season requires that I be rested and well-resourced. For me, that means making time to workout, focus on my faith and take my wife on dates. If I don’t do these things, my perspective and impact won’t be what I want – no matter how much clutter I remove from my calendar.
This December, I encourage you not simply to slow down but to come to a complete stop. Give your full attention to the people and activities that are most important. And make space to care for yourself, so you can better care for others. Wishing you a holiday season full of joy, gratitude and whatever else matters most to you!
Blog by Kyle Brownlee, CEO.