Holiday Planning – Step 3 – Express Yourself

706601_16153446Intro to Holiday Planning

Step 1 – Let’s Get Real

Step 2 – List It All Out

This step has a few stages. If you find it overwhelming, take a few days to work through it.  Stop if you feel overwhelmed and take a break.  Just make sure you come back to it!

That list you made, however long it is, go through and somehow highlight all of the things you HAVE to do — by HAVE to I mean you literally have to.

Does your office do a gift exchange? That is a have to.

If your children are school aged, what events do they have to attend?

Is there a show you need to be at so that they feel valued and loved?

These are the TOP of your list!  This is what is there before any of your want-to’s are even considered.

If you normally feel stressed at the holidays, you may find that this list is extremely long and that is why you never have time for the things you want to do.  This means it may not be your poor planning and you aren’t a failure!  Feel relieved at this revelation!

The good news is, with some planning you should be able to get some “want to” events on the list and you can have more joy!  When you get stressed and want to walk away from the process, let this keep you going.

What’s really important to you?  

Now, after you highlight the HAVE to events, go through the list and STAR the most important want to’s. 

If something is a “meh, that would be nice,” or even a “but we always did that growing up, shouldn’t we do that?” just leave it without a star! This is only a list after all — no one will be arresting you for not starring that thing you resent but have always had on your list.  You don’t need to confess to your parents that their tradition of making cookies you hate isn’t going to be part of the traditions you pass on to your children.  

Now, and this may be the most important part of this step, transfer all of the starred items to a new list and RATE them. Rate them most important to least important and use whatever criteria you want.  If you’re struggling with how to rate things you can step back and think about the things you determined are important to you.  If something is a want to but it doesn’t meet any of the goals for your holiday, rank it lower. 

You aren’t saying anything is unimportant.  You are just putting out there how you feel about each of them (which ultimately indicates how much energy you are willing to put into each of them being pursued).  You already think and feel these things — you are now giving yourself permission to and you are going to only keep things on your list that you are willing to invest your limited energy and time into including.

What you now have is a list of the things that you MUST do at the top of your list AND all of the things that you want to do — ranked in order of importance. This is your new holiday list!

The rest of your planning will involve working towards this list.  As you work through the steps for planning, you may find that some things don’t actually fit. You may need to remove some things from your calendar.  This step is where you work through all of the emotional baggage about events, so if you something needs to be cut for more practical reasons you can do it without so much angst.  If you are still going to be overbooked, go back to the list and see what ranked lowest.  Remove that!

Remember to rest

But don’t move on to that yet, take a break, that was a lot of emotional work!  Do something that keeps you feeling good about this process and remember that this is about being better to yourself in 2015 than you were in any year past.

One last note . . . just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  Some will be tempted to fill every space with something they are doing, thinking that being organized in the scheduling means you should be able to do even more.  Please fight this urge.  If this is a strong urge for you, or you feel guilty not doing this, please add “rest time” to your list and make sure you include some set aside time for resting every day.  You might even want to give yourself 1 or 2 days off each week —  Sabbath and an extra day that is just not about being busy.  It is at these times you will be able to enjoy the hard work you are doing.  If you have decorated your entire home every year and then felt like you turned around and were taking things down the next day, it’s because you never gave yourself time to enjoy your decorations.

Worst case scenario, if you have any hiccup in the planning – let’s say, for example, a child gets sick with one of the many things going around every December, and you don’t get something done at the time it’s scheduled, this is a time you can move it to and still get it done.  If your schedule has no wiggle room, all of those things you can’t plan for will throw off your entire plan. We certainly don’t want that!

I was surprised to realize how loved I felt as I unburdened myself.  Please share any revelations you are having as you work through these steps!


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