What’s your advice?

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is in five weeks, Christmas is in ten, New Year’s is eleven.

I am wondering how you approach them and how you would advise someone to approach them. I am not speaking of what you might serve as food or give as presents if you do any of that. I am speaking of how you handle all that you choose to. If you don’t live in the United States, the question is still put to you. How would you advise someone you care about to approach “big” holidays?

We all might say “These are opportunities to gather with our family and friends in joy and fellowship.” What, then, do we actually do? Would we have to say based on our behavior:

• Overcommit to as many events as possible.
• Always make every bit of food as it has always been done, even though by the time you serve it you are cranky, not good company, and the people you serve it to will not show the level of appreciation you so deserve for “all the trouble” you went through.
• Acquire debt for gifts even though in a couple of months most of them will be forgotten or unappreciated, and it takes the next twelve months to pay off that debt.
• Fuss at your family members often while turning on the charm for others at social events.
• Wear as a verbal badge of honor “I am SO busy!” Repeat it often.

Surely, that isn’t what you would advise a friend or teach your children. Still, we do advise and teach by what we do more than what we say. What is your behavior saying?

First, we must know what outcomes we want from times of celebration. It’s important to know what you want and then discuss that with appropriate family members or friends. It’s probable you’ll have adjustments to make from what you’ve “always done” or what you did last year. Learn from and build on your experiences.

Write the desired outcome down along with a few commitments to how you will achieve those outcomes.

• Limit the number of social events?
• Budget in advance and stick to that budget?
• Plan in advance quantity time and quality time with those most important to you?
• Schedule your own recharging time as you go along?

One needed skill you need to reach your desired outcome is the ability to graciously say “no.” This is true all the time as you are responsible for the outcomes in your life (E+R=O). As you move toward what it is you want, you often have to say “no” to good things. Do you know how? I’d love to hear your ways of graciously saying “no” so that you protect your time and energy for what you’ve set out as important to you. I’ll give you ideas how to approach saying “no” next week. It would be great to include yours.

This week, though, give thought to how you want to journey to the end of 2012. Frazzled? Joyful? With purpose? Then, write it down.