Previously I mentioned having a Holiday plan in place so you are not overwhelmed when the holidays arrive. In this blog I will share with you some action steps I have used to maintain my sanity and personal power during the holidays. I am using the Winter Holiday Season as my example but you can apply this to any event that repeats yearly such a National holiday, birthday or big event like a yearly family vacation.
Step One: Personal Holiday (Event) Journal
Start a Word Document or a notebook dedicated to the holiday season (or the event you are planning). This is a journal you will review and update each year. I have kept one on my computer since 2000 and it is extremely helpful to remind me what worked and what didn’t in the past. Plus it helps to boost my resolve each year not to overdo anything whether it be decorating too soon, buying too many gifts or overindulging in food that makes me feel bad.
Step Two – Private Space Time
Set aside some time for yourself. If you won’t be interrupted use your “private space” or else leave the house and perhaps work at a local coffee shop. Find at least an hour of time where you can focus on your feelings and thoughts about the holiday season (or other event).
Using your Personal Holiday Journal (step one) Title one page of paper Holiday (Event) History. Next divide the paper in thirds with your pen or choose three columns in your word processing document. Label the left column Happiest Memories and the middle column Unpleasant Memories and the last column Ideas for Change Needed.
Now take a couple of breaths, center yourself and think back to holidays of your childhood, your teen years and beyond. If you find your memory blocked try looking at old family scrapbooks or talking to family or friends who were with you. Remember back when you were little to the first gifts you ever made for anyone, then the gifts you bought with money from your first job. Think about what you gave others and gifts given to you. As you go along note down in the appropriate column a brief summary such as:
- “Sang carols with school group in the mall” listed under Happy Memory
- “Got really tired of Christmas music since we started before Thanksgiving” listed under Unpleasant Memory
You get the picture. As you go along jot down any solutions that come to mind in column three, otherwise take time to think about it and come back later when a solution appears. The important thing is to honor what you really feel comfortable with and uncomfortable with and find a way to meet your needs better this year. You may need to compromise a little if you celebrate with others but as long as you get your important happy moments achieved a little compromise will feel fine. Notice which of your desires are “deal breakers” and then you will know not to compromise on them.
You can even make another page and write down what you are compromising on and why. This way you will remember it was YOUR decision to compromise and you won’t feel disempowered when the time comes to be flexible. You’ll remember it was because you had a good reason, list it down and realize this is just one of the “gifts” you are giving this year. Not all gifts are wrapped in paper after all.
At least once weekly jot down what you have been doing this holiday season so far. Make notes as often as you want about things that happen. Note whether they either pleased you or upset you. If you find you are upset you can use the journal to unload your feelings and work out solutions.
As you go along highlight all that things you liked and want to repeat next year. Then make notes on what you want to change. Sometimes I will end my yearly holiday journal with a letter to myself noting what I want to add and what I want to avoid in the coming year. I usually title it with “Remember Ginger….” to get my attention.
Over the years I have also added the wish lists I was given from my loved ones and made note of any items they didn’t get; this way next year if I am stumped as to what to get them I can review my list and surprise them with something they had forgotten they asked for.
Optional Step: Research
If you feel any frustration with the holiday season and the way you have celebrated it in the past and want to make a change, go to Google and start random searches to learn how other people celebrate. For instance, here in the US we start the season extra early and in Europe they actually celebrate later than we do and mark the 12 Days of Christmas which end with Epiphany January 6th. Mix it up, try on new traditions and find what works for you best. It is especially helpful to research when you want to do a drastic change. (See my post about my holiday metamorphosis-perhaps this will give you courage for your own)
Once you have created your personal review keep this journal for years to come and simply add to it starting with the current year. You might be surprised how much this helps you feel in control during this chaotic season. Even if you choose to continue what you have always done in the past, the simple act of honoring your freedom to choose it or not will enhance your enjoyment.
Then each year before the holiday/event begins pull out your journal and read it. Having a plan means being empowered. It doesn’t matter if all your plans don’t happen; what matters is you owned the moment by applying your attention to it beforehand.
Have a fantastic holiday!
‘till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach ©