Better than a bucket list and probably cheaper: It's time to build your Holiday Can-Do List!
If you already completed the activities described in Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy and Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 2: How to Make It Meaningful... Congratulations!
You are taking positive steps to ensure a more enjoyable and meaningful holiday season this year.
Now it's time to focus on what many of us get extra-stressed about: The list of activities that we will participate in over the next several weeks.
Did you notice how I didn't say "must accomplish" in the coming weeks? Did you notice how I didn't call it a "To-Do" list? That's because we can reduce stress by reducing the sense of obligation and perception of requirement that we so often attach to the holidays.
Do you really need to bake twelve dozen cookies and ship them across the country? Do you really need to attend your company's and neighbors' and casual acquaintances' holiday parties?
Do you really need to complete every outstanding home improvement project before settling in to enjoy the stillness of winter?
Take just a moment and think about your holiday season last year and the year before. Was there something that especially drained your energy, your finances or your happiness? Are there any particular holiday traditions in your family that you simply dread?
I give you permission to skip them this year.
That's right. Tell them (whoever they are) that I said you can take the year off. I know, it feels scary, but you can do it. You deserve to do it. And it's not like you are going to spend the next six weeks sitting on your couch.
Unless sitting on your couch brings you joy.
You see, we are going to spend the holiday season making happy memories. Let's get started!
Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 3: Build a Can-Do List that Makes You Happy.
Okay, it's time to get out your trusted journal. Settle down, take a couple cleansing breaths and connect with your vision of the holidays.
Picture the people that you have chosen to spend time with. Feel the joy of sharing the meaning and spirit of the season with the people that you love.
Now, what do you want to do with them?
Make a list of the experiences that you would like to enjoy between now and New Year's. Just write them all down, without judgment or evaluation.
Perhaps you really do want to bake twelve dozen cookies, because that is fun for you. Or maybe you want to drive to New York City and see the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Maybe you want to go ice skating with your kids, go out to lunch with your friends, or drive up into the mountains for some quiet reflection.
Maybe you want to write, or sing or pray.
Make your Can-D0 List a beautiful story about a holiday well-spent.
Okay, now take another look at your list. How does it make you feel? Excited, warm and fuzzy... or overwhelmed and exhausted?
Let's try to cut that list in half.
Here is a tip: Take the items that look like preparation for the holiday and make them part of the celebration.
If you want to put up a Christmas tree, have a tree-decorating party with your buddies. If you want a cache of cookies in the pantry, have a cookie-swap with your family or neighbors. If there is a load of gift-wrapping in your future, invite a friend over for tea and wrapping, then return the favor.
Here's another tip: Simplify. Instead of serving a five-course dinner, host a pot-luck or dessert buffet.
Just one more: Focus. What are the two or three things that will really make you and your family light up with joy? Put them at the top of the list and let everything else fall into the "If we feel like it when the time comes" category.
You can do it!
Now, take your list and copy it over onto a piece of festive paper and post it somewhere that you will see it in the days ahead. Just let it breathe...
And we will get back together soon, for Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 4. Enjoy!
Meg Brown is a Certified Professional Coach, former corporate executive and mother to two teenaged sons. Meg specializes in coaching passionate parents and professionals who seek to make the most of their midlife journey at www.ElevateYourLifeCoaching.com. Contact her today, your first coaching session is Free!