The holidays can be a wonderfully unbalanced time of year. According to Pew Research Center 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, with about the same celebrating Thanksgiving. Don’t forget New Years too. If you’re not in that group you can still learn from what I’m about to say, as it applies to any gatherings of a seasonal nature.
The aforementioned holidays all happen in essentially the same month-ish span of time. That’s some pretty concentrated celebration, and it comes at a time when a good portion of the country also experiences winter. These are pretty intense distractions and influences on how you manage your time, energy and resources.
The Automation of Balance
As I said in The Automation of Balance, you are constantly seeking equilibrium. This equilibrium takes the form of many many adjustments to how you work, how you play, where you go, what you spend your time on. When new influences are introduced to you or existing ones flex and change, you do as well to compensate. And as I said in my posts on Balance and Transition, you find ways to adjust. Sometimes you adjust well, sometimes you don’t. And sometimes the influences go away and you continue to adjust to them – adjusting to something that doesn’t exist anymore.
Holidays – very large temporary annual forces exerted on your balance
With regards to the holidays, you probably experience very large temporary changes that you have to deal with. The holidays bring a marked increase in socialization, changes to diet and resources. You probably never thought about that. Perhaps you think about eating and all the rich food and the weight you gain, or fight not to gain during the holidays. But there’s much more than that. So let’s create an awareness you can use. Remember, it’s always about a tangible take-away.
What to expect
Here are the top things to be aware of when going through the holidays. As always, I’m breaking it down between Time, Energy and Resources.
The holidays really can mess with your schedule. You may have to deal with days off – in some cases those days off come at an inopportune time for you. If that’s the case you have to deal with a gap in your schedule that messes with your ability to reach other clients or prospects. Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving and even Black Friday are probably not the best days to reach a client. You may deal with a surplus of time, in which case it may disrupt your flow on what you do with it. Seeing family or friends that are out of state or in another city can be a commitment of time in a schedule that is usually chopped up into small slices. If you have kids then you may have to attend a number of Christmas plays or ‘Winter Break Festivals.’ How much extra time does it take to write the Christmas cards, or decorate the house, or purchase more decorations?
Maybe you’re one of the kind individuals that participates in the feed the hungry, and that’s an investment of time, but can recharge your emotional gas tank a bit. Remember things are a give and take.
The holidays can be a great draw on your energy. You are a rare individual if you solely gain energy from the holidays. I’m not saying that it can’t be a wonderful time to recharge with family and friends but the reality is that you are going to probably give a lot too. If you host a party the preparation, planning, cooking, inviting are all things that draw from your energy. Wrapping presents, putting up decorations, planning a menu, cooking the Christmas goose (it’s probably some other animal, who has a goose anymore?).
Energy just doesn’t mean how many boxes can you lift, how long can you stay awake, how long can you be on the treadmill. We’re humans, and we have emotional gas too. A lot of what you do in your life is powered and dependant on your emotional gas tank. It takes a different form of energy to deal with family at a Christmas party than it does to deal with a room full or peers or prospective clients. Or it can. Dealing with varied personalities, some of which that are difficult or antagonistic, with delicious alcohol involved can create an entirely different drain on energy. As I mentioned in Time above, you may also have to deal with seeing friends or family in another city or out of state. It also takes energy to write out the Christmas cards, or the Christmas Letter (don’t write one of those, please.*).
The possible weight gain from the rich food will affect your energy level. You may be one of the millions that join a gym in January because you made New Years resolutions right after you ate a bunch of really rich food for two months straight. Think that is disruptive? You bet.
Clearly the holidays can be a drain on resources. You might be the rare person who nets a Christmas bonus. Otherwise you’re in the majority of people who expend a lot during the holidays. Paying for a big party, buying presents for your family, nieces and nephews, your kids – very real tangible expenditures. Buying new Christmas decorations because those lights don’t last forever or you have to have a real tree, or this year something else is ‘in’ you’re spending money. Don’t forget the cookie exchanges, the always bringing items for a party, or even a work party. Your kids may need new outfits for pictures, or a play at school.
When it comes to presents, a lot of people wake up with a Financial Hangover in January, and credit card companies capitalize on this fact.
Now that you’re aware
Keep these changes in mind when the holidays roll around. Being aware that they can mess with your time, energy and resources can help you plan a bit – you may have never given it much thought other than ‘uh oh I’m going to gain a bunch of weight again for the holidays.’ Being aware that this is normal can help you keep your sanity too.
Mark Bradford developed a system to achieve goals, manage your energy and understand and strengthen your path – it’s Alchemy for Life.
He writes, coaches and speaks on the subject. For more information, tips and tricks, like Mark Bradford on Facebook, follow Mark Bradford on Twitter.
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