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10 Steps to a Stress-Free Holiday

“The stress-free way to enjoy the holidays is to plan, take one step at a time, and have a sense of humor.” Beth Tabak

Can you feel the holiday jitters beginning? Suddenly there it is right around the corner. Relax! Take time to plan well now and ease into the holidays with a big smile. Grab a journal and pen, and let’s get started.

1- Reminisce over previous holidays- In your journal create a column for What Works and another for Not That Again. Under What Works list the activities that bring you joy, come naturally, and click into place. Under Not That Again list your challenges. Jot down the things that drain your energy and bring you down. What can you do to delegate, dump, or change the items in the Not That Again column and embrace more of the activities in the What Works column? What changes need to be made?

2- Choose a theme you can be excited about- What is important to you this holiday? Base your theme on that. If you want to stay home instead of traveling your theme could be “Home for the Holidays”. If your budget is tight consider “Simply Sensational”. Your theme helps you stay focused. A theme that honors your spirituality could be "Faith and Family First". Or choose a favorite quote such as Mahatma Gandhi's “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World”. Get creative, have fun, and write it down.

3- Set your top 4 priorities- Base them on what you really want which should connect with your theme. Get crystal clear. Write them down. When you know your priorities you are able to respond easily to a request and set boundaries. When someone asks you to get involved request 24 hours to respond. Look at your priorities and see if it serves them. If it does, consider it. If not, the answer is likely no.

4- Create a Map- What if you took a big trip without planning? You would likely get lost, waste time, and experience anxiety. It makes sense to plan at the holidays when so many areas of our lives are effected: time, energy, personal care, relationships, physical environment, and finances. Consider creating a task list thru the end of the year. It takes a block of time but will save you time and stress. It will rescue you from running in circles, going back and forth to the same place, and trying to remember what’s next. In the past I've had hundreds of items on my task list. No wonder we get stressed when we attempt this in our heads. Here's a tool to help. Pick up a task list at www.StartingNowCoaching.com or create your own. On your computer create a chart with 4 columns. Use your theme for the header. Under your theme list your priorities horizontally. Label the columns in a way that is helpful to you. I use Business, Personal, Holiday, and Need List. Use small font and minimal margin space to fit as many rows as possible. Print your map. List your tasks and add on as they come to you. Keep your map with you at all times. Schedule time to carry out the tasks. Have fun and build momentum as you make progress. Remember to save it for next year.

5- Simplify-

Every task must be handled. You can do it, delegate it, or dump it. Eliminate what does not serve your priorities. What can you get help on and delegate? This is a good time to get rid of those items on your Not That Again list. Hire someone to decorate or a housekeeper for the month. Have everyone bring a dish instead of you doing it yourself. Get your family involved and remember that things don't have to be perfect. Let go. This will give you the space to embrace what you truly enjoy.

6- Set a budget- Develop a budget that feels good. There are lots of ways to make a holiday special without adding stress to your budget. Show people they are appreciated. Plan family fun and activities. You can let someone know what is special about them in a card, letter, cassette, or video. Get creative. Every year I have one gift for the kids to find. I wrap empty boxes inside each other. When they open the last box there is a clue telling them the next step. Don't let a tight budget steal your joy. Make it fun!

7- Set boundaries- Decide now what you will not tolerate. Write it down. Remember your Not That Again list? Is there someone who ropes you into things you don't want to do? Have the conversation that's overdue. No is no. If someone keeps asking after you said no, they are attempting to control you. Setting boundaries is about educating people on how they can treat you. Is there someone you need to educate?

8- Schedule time for planning and yourself- When is a good time to update your plan? When can you take time for you? Put it on your calendar each week thru the end of the year. Keep the appointments. Add this line to your daytimer as a reminder: "I have an appointment in honor of myself this ______(day) at __:__ (time) to do something special for me because I sooooooo deserve it!"

9- Give in a way that gives you joy vs. obligation- When you give in a way that comes naturally to you, you stay in integrity with who you are. Therefore, you are able to share your own special gifts with others. When you are doing what you love life clicks. If there is a situation you are dreading, think about how you can tweak it and handle it in a way that would bring you more joy.

10- Take action now- Begin today so that you are tying up your last bows well before the pitter patter of hoofs on the rooftop. Keep your holiday journal and map close at hand. The sooner you complete your tasks, the sooner you can sit back, smile, and enjoy the season!

What I want for you is to take action to move one step forward to prepare for the holidays...Starting Now!

Copyright 2002, Beth A. Tabak. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Beth Tabak is a Business & Life Coach, columnist, & owner of Starting Now. She is 100% committed to coaching small business owners and professionals to grow beyond limits, and create the business and life they keep thinking about. Set your goals, pick up a task list, take a class, discover a new resource all complimentary at http://www.startingnowcoaching.com .

Written by: Beth Tabak

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