Thanksgiving is tomorrow, followed by Black Friday, and on it’s heels, Cyber Monday. It’s enough to create stress for just about anyone. So much to do, so little time, so many expectations!
It’s a tricky time of year when many people compare their lives to Rockwell paintings, Martha Stewart magazines, and the social lives of celebrities.
Rather than the unbridled joy that these images may present, I hear a lot of stress-related concerns from my clients about not being able to create the perfect holiday experience. They see the potential to disappoint their family and friends when expectations aren’t met.
My first question to them is, “who’s expectations?” Then I offer them my favorite quote:
“If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed.” —Terrell Owens
The first thing I suggest people do is to have a conversation with the critical people in their lives and see what they want out of the holidays. Many have been surprised to discover that what they thought was important wasn’t all that important.
Here’s a personal example:
In my family, getting together to make popcorn balls was a BIG deal. It was one of our holiday traditions. We made hundreds of them. Everyone took several popcorn balls home, some to eat, some to share. But every year, no matter how far from each other we were, we somehow shoe-horned in making popcorn balls. The expectation was that making popcorn balls was a sacred tradition that we needed to do at all costs. As we got older, it got tricky. We didn’t always get together for Chrismas, so we’d try to make them another time. And, every year, more and more popcorn balls got left behind, most people not wanting to have the caloric temptation in their homes. Making popcorn balls became quite the chore. Then one year, we stopped. The world didn’t stop spinning. No one’s Christmas was ruined. It was okay, and actually, a blessing, to give up that tradition. Our new reality was that making popcorn balls was not important anymore.
On the other hand, my husband and his family celebrate Christmas morning with a huge breakfast, including waffles with strawberries and ice cream. Yes, you read that right, ice cream. Strawberry waffles is a tradition that has passed from generation to generation. We continue to have strawberry waffles to this day. In our home, the expectation is that Christmas morning means strawberry waffles. Now, because we aren’t celebrating Christmas morning with family, we continue the tradition with a large circle of friends. The tradition continues. It’s important. The reality is that we can’t continue this tradition with our family, but we can continue it with our friends.
I encourage you to gather your family and close friends together and have an honest conversation about expectations and reality. What do you want the holidays to look mean? Talk to each other, get everyone’s opinion, compromise if necessary, create a plan, communicate honestly, and often.
Doing these things will help create a holiday season with a little less stress and a lot more joy.
Remember, the holidays are supposed to be joyful.
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Attention Deficit Disorder Association
National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals
International Coach Federation
Institute for Challenging Disorganization
Level I Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization; ADD; Client Administration; Time Management; Mental Health; and Hoarding.
Level II Specialist Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization and ADHD.