It’s time to get down-and-dirty practical about this. Creating the Christmas season you want isn’t just going to happen. It’s going to take a whole lot of intentionality. So let’s start being intentional.
Take out a piece of paper, and spend some time thinking about some of your less-than-desirable holiday moments.
What went wrong and why? What events gave you negative feelings, and left negative memories? Can you think of a Christmas season where you felt frazzled, or grumpy?
In a separate column, try to identify the WHY behind each of these things.
For me, I have felt frazzled when I’ve over-committed to parties, or worse, forgotten to bake cookies for a cookie exchange. One of our worst Christmases as a married couple was as a result of poor financial decisions — that we worked diligently for the next two years to rectify. One Christmas, I realized I didn’t have a place to hang stockings — and I made a hard-core effort at getting one up for the next year.
The question you want to ask yourself is simple.
How do you want to spend the holidays?
That’s what intentionality is, after all — doing what you intend to do. But if you haven’t actually figured out what you intend to do, how will you do it? How will you know what to focus on; where to put your attention?
So, what do you intend to do this holiday season? This is not a rhetorical question — I’m asking you sincerely. Who do you intend to spend time with? What’s necessary? What’s not? What can realistically wait until 2016?
I’ll give you a helpful hint: Start with your values, and prioritize from there.
Your values, by definition, are those things you “regard highly”. And the holiday season is just as important a time as any for you to consider what you regard most highly. What are you passionate about? What do you stand for?
For some, it might be time spent with family. For others, it might be solitary time and self-care. And for still others, it might be caring for those in need. No one value is better than the other — all that matters is that you’re able to identify what is most important to you. Then make the intention to focus on that value this holiday season.
If you value time spent with family, how will you prioritize them over the many holiday parties and crowds in shopping malls and time spent cooking over a stove?
If you value solitude and self-care, how will you prioritize yourself over the demands of family, clients, and the seductive allure of party after party?
If you value caring for those in need, how will you prioritize your philanthropy over more self-serving inclinations?
Are you seeing the pattern here?
Start with your values, then set your intentions.
Truly consider: How do I intend to spend this holiday season?
Remember that you get to choose; you have the power — end this year and enjoy the holidays in the way that brings you the most joy. And trust that joy will naturally spread to everyone around you.
What’s your highest value this holiday season?
How will this affect your schedule?