‘Tis (Almost) the Season! Remember These 8 Tips to Make Sure You’re Spending Your Energy on What Matters Most

This year’s holiday will be amazing!  The season will be magical days filled with joy and laughter! I’ll share special times with friends and family! I’ll select the perfect gifts! My clients and team will be beaming from a successful year!

And, this is where my problem begins.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s the second week of November. It’s reality time. And, the truth is there are only a few normal work weeks left before we are in the middle of the holiday festivities. Clients need projects completed by year-end. Objectives must be set for next year’s performance goals.

And, there is the holiday to plan.

It’s always the same. I think, I just need a little more time! The thing is, the holiday comes at the same time every year, yet, here I am making lists and looking at my calendar wondering,  why didn’t I shop earlier.

This year has to be different.

A few years ago the day after Christmas, I sat in my living room feeling exhausted and like I had missed it—the fun and joy of the season. Instead, the responsibilities and my desire to do too much, had overtaken me.

Never again.

If you are juggling work with family priorities and expectations for “the perfect holiday,” here are ideas for making this year different.

1. Be crystal clear on your real “must do’s.”

At work, know exactly what must be done before year-end.  Set expectations with clients, your boss, and your team on commitments for the rest of 2015 right now. This can save you from the frantic call during the family dinner asking for a project update.

The same goes for home. Maybe it’s buying presents for your family, hosting Aunt Molly, and organizing your community service group party.  Be very clear on what must be done and write it on your mirror. You may choose to do more, but if your list of “must do’s” is crystal clear you can better filter the rest.

2. Break with tradition. Know the difference-makers for you.

We are creatures of habit. We keep doing what we have always done—especially at the holiday—even if it no longer makes sense. Do you have to go to your cousin’s party every year to see people you don’t even know? What makes the holiday special for you? What do you picture when you think of having a special season? You may be surprised by the small things that stand out—not the big events. Plan for the special times that matter and protect them.

3. Simplify what you must do and want to do.

I am really working on this. I have big visions and so many ideas that I think I need to try. But this is a recipe for stress when you take on a new project, yet your time is very limited. This disconnect leads to pressure and overworking, when you should be enjoying the season. Look at your must do’s and simplify. Consider the maximum time you want to allocate for your idea and then work backward. Decide what can be done in the time you have—not the other way around.

4. Continue the celebration past Christmas.

At the end of the year, we get into a celebration frenzy. Everyone must be toasted, thanked and celebrated in just one month! You can still celebrate in January.  And, spreading out the fun is often appreciated. Plus, January is such a letdown—use that to your advantage.

5. Grinches aren’t the only ones that say “No.”

You cannot, repeat cannot, do everything you want to do or are asked to do. Say “No” in your own special way. Return to your must-do list and remember that everything else is truly optional. Saying “Yes” to too much means saying “No” to other things without ever making an intentional choice.

6. Remember time is your most valuable asset.

It’s not your money, your gifts or your résumé that make the biggest impact on your happiness or others. Your greatest asset, at work and at home, is your time—especially at the holidays.  Be strategic in how you spend it. Line your time up with your ‘must do’s’ and your personal difference-makers. And, reread #5.

7. Who needs you most this holiday?

Who are the special people in your life that really value time with you? And you with them? Keep these faces in mind as you plan the season. It may be your children, parents or those that will have a difficult holiday. We know that the holidays can be a lonely, sad time for those experiencing a loss in their lives.  A simple note or dropping by for a visit can make a real difference for them.

8. Look for the joy.

If you are juggling career and a busy life, the holidays can seem like too much. Look for joy in the small things with friends and family. Joy is found in experiences and relationships, not a wrapped box. Remember the bigger purpose and don’t set unrealistic expectations on yourself or others.

Tis (almost) the season! Get your mind right and spend your energy on what matters most. There is still time.


Patti Johnson is a career and workplace expert and the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human resources consulting firm she founded in 2004. Previously, she was a senior executive at Accenture and has been recently featured as an expert in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, Money Magazine and Working Mother. Patti is also an instructor for SMU Executive Education and a keynote speaker on “Leading Change.” Her first book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work & in Life, hit shelves in May 2014. Visit her website at PattiBJohnson.com.

Leave a Comment