When a former classmate says wistfully in her final days of life, “You always think there will be enough time…but then…there isn’t,” those words stay with you and they come back unbidden again and again. What’s on your “Someday List” that you still haven’t found time to do? A trip to visit someone dear to you? The courage to buy that getaway place you’ve been wanting in Northern Michigan? Spending more time with your kids? Shoring up your most important relationships?
We’re six weeks away from the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. If ever we needed to strengthen our resolve, fortify our resilience and feed our souls, now is the time. The suggestions that follow are just that—suggestions—to act upon or to use as a springboard for your own action plan. While there’s still time…
- List the many stressors that show up year after year in your holiday plans. Rewrite at least half of them or simply cross them out. Focus instead on repeating the ones that bring joy. Tolerating stressful practices year after year is a choice you can eliminate. Whether it’s gift giving to people who need nothing, sending a ga-zillion cards because others sent you one last year, or staying with traditions you no longer enjoy, maybe it’s time to stop it! Announce your plans to “downsize” in advance while there’s still time. One way I lend sanity to the season is to block out part of a day to send contributions to organizations that serve foster children, the homeless, seniors, and our church’s community giving tree.
- Address stressors within the household. Inside the door of nearly every house is an invisible button with three settings: Stress, Overwhelm, and Outbursts. Anyone who lives there can easily set them off unless somebody takes steps to prevent it. Let you be the person to first set the tone. Later, with any luck, others will buy in. Here’s how: For the first 20 minutes after any family member comes through the door and again 20 minutes before they’re scheduled to leave, make no requests of them—NONE. Keep any comments you make positive and affirming. Gradually, as you and yours experience the benefits, you’ll train your mind to be less reactive to ordinary events and irritations. Live alone? Take those 20 minutes to sit down, relax—no calls in or out—allow no demands on your time.
- Start now modeling the habits of incorporating love and appreciation into every relationship—every day. Be sure everyone is the recipient of these affordable yet priceless gifts. Don’t be surprised if the one who often seems to deserve the least is the one who needs the most. Such expressions of acceptance, affirmation and gratitude will eventually bring out the best in everyone.
There’s still time to lighten up the holidays, ratchet down the stress, and model love and gratitude in all we do. Neither life nor our relationships are ever going to be exactly the way we want them to be. The sooner we make peace with the fact that both are going to be what they will be, the less stressed and more contented we will be.
© Judith DeLapa High-Impact Coaching 2016