I used to gripe about the “inconvenience” of the holiday season. Too often, I felt that my work goals suffered because people I needed to get in touch with were simply not available. It sometimes seemed like everyone I wanted to talk to was taking a long lunch break to do Christmas shopping or had left work early to get ready for an office Christmas party.
It took me way too long to realize how important it is for our sense of well-being to allow ourselves to partake in all the joys of the holidays.
Let In the “Jingle Bell” Spirit
I believe that any system you don’t embrace will ostracize you. And the relaxed attitudes in the workplace and loss of production that go along with the holiday season are part of a system I wasn’t embracing. So I was getting left out. And it was all of my own doing.
For too many years, while my partners, coworkers, and friends were planning joyous occasions and enjoying time with family… I was in a foul mood. Meetings were cancelled, projects were delayed, and my timeframes were adversely affected.
I was on a mission (achieving my business goals), and to heck with the holidays.
Eventually, I realized that my approach was limiting my success. I had been oblivious to the reality that the holidays DO change people’s normal schedules and – to some degree – their thinking. Everyone wants to spend additional time with family and friends.
Yes, maybe a coworker was taking a few days off because his kids had come home from college for the holidays. But did I really need to let that throw me off? Would it matter if I had to wait another day or two to receive the information or schedule the meeting? Of course not.
The eureka moment for me came when my wife Karin let me in on a little secret. (Actually, almost everybody knew it but me.) “Bob, you are bucking a system, and you can’t win!” she said. “Besides, you are missing unique opportunities to refuel your emotional well-being.”
Suddenly, it all made sense (especially since she first put in a Bing Crosby recording of holiday music to set the mood).
From that day forward, I vowed to let “der Bingle” fill me with some jingle bell spirit. And, quite truthfully, I have become a better person, husband, father, friend, neighbor, and coworker because of it!
How can YOU not miss out (like I used to) on the joys and wonders of the upcoming holiday season?
Create Your Own Holiday Vision Statement
Every business has a mission – a mission that it often shares with its employees and clients through a “vision statement.”
When done right, it puts everyone on the same page: Clients know what to expect when they hire the company, and employees know what they need to do to get the job done… and why it’s important.
The same principles can be applied to creating your personal Holiday Vision Statement.
1. Begin at the beginning.
The best way to begin to put together any mission or personal vision statement is to ask yourself questions. What is expected of me during the holidays from my family, friends, and coworkers? What priorities are important to me? What community activities do I want to participate in? How can I reflect the best of myself during the holidays to those around me? How can I apply myself to yield the best results?
2. Bring in those that matter.
There is no reason for you to do this alone. Bring in your spouse or significant other, children, friends, and other family members to help you plan your holiday mission. You could do this by phone, via e-mail, or by holding a group meeting. You might even encourage them to create their own holiday vision statements or work together to create a Family Holiday Vision Statement.
It may take some time to make those calls or send off those e-mails or set up a family meeting. However, the benefits will be well worth it. You will get a lot of great input. And you will end up with a statement suited for your personal objectives that also takes into account the thoughts and feelings of people who matter to you.
3. Make a rough draft.
Once you have everyone’s input, as well as your own answers to the questions you asked yourself, you’ll be ready to draft your personal Holiday Vision Statement. And it only needs to be a few paragraphs. Here, I’ll even get you started…
My goal this year is to enjoy the holidays! To that end, I choose to embrace a holiday mindset of being ready for the joys and wonder of the season…
4. Polish it to shine like a star.
When you complete your draft, I want you to polish it over and over until it shines like the star atop a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. You could even circulate it by e-mail to everyone who helped you with it, or hold another family meeting to discuss it.
5. Post it.
Whether you write out your Holiday Vision Statement by hand, hammer it out on your old typewriter, or use your computer, I encourage you to post a copy in a place where you will see it often throughout the day: on your refrigerator, on your wall calendar at work, and/or on your computer’s desktop.
Your Holiday Agenda
I want you to have some fun this holiday season… especially with your family. And make sure every family member gets involved in making it a great time for all. Pop up some popcorn or make hot chocolate and sit at the dining room table with paper and pens. Say “We are going to enjoy the holidays this year. What are your ideas?”
Here are some ideas to consider:
• What can we do in the community this year? Visit a nursing home, participate in the church choir, sponsor a toy drive?
• What can we do to stick with a realistic holiday budget? Could we go online to find deals or stop by a local crafts store for ideas on making gifts instead of buying them?
• Do we want to make plans for family visits, travel, or hosting a party? If so, who is going to do what?
• What school, work, or neighborhood events are we attending this year?
You’re getting the idea, right? The holidays are going to happen anyway, so why not begin them with a joyful mindset and take advantage of the opportunities that are unique to this time of year? If you are open and receptive… good times will happen. Even more important, you’ll remember those good times forever.
A final thought: Don’t forget to enjoy holiday working, too! The holiday spirit at work can be infectious if you are in the right mood.
I am not condoning abandoning your responsibilities. Not in the least. I am advocating expanding your goal to enjoy the holidays this year to include the workplace – to bring your newfound Jingle Bell Spirit to your coworkers, partners, bosses, vendors, and customers. After all, a genuine smile and happy holiday greeting doesn’t cost a penny… but can be priceless to the recipient.[Ed. Note: Pledge right now that the holidays will be a time of joy rather than stress. Share your own Holiday Vision Statement here.]