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4 Steps to Create the Holidays You Really Want

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We love the Holidays in our house. Romi and I love spending time with each other and the kids, our families and friends, and celebrating end of year successes our business partners. We love the holiday music, the cooler weather and playing games with the kids in front of the fireplace. Yes, even in San Diego it gets cold enough to lounge in front of a warm fire.

Despite all the highlight reels on social media of people celebrating, smiling with friend and family, surrounded by love and looking like they’re having a blast, most people feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. A Healthline News survey with more than two thousand people responding, discovered that 62% of people rated their holidays as “somewhat stressful” or “very stressful.”

And for some people that stress can trigger extreme negative emotions. Studies show that during the holidays there’s an increase in anxiety, depression, suicide attempts, visits to the emergency room and spousal abuse. Financial pressures increase with each present purchased. And many people find themselves without the family members they miss, or stuck with family they’d rather avoid.

In addition to work and day-to-day obligations at home, people add to their list shopping, planning, cooking, entertaining and going to parties. And then there’s the pressure of feeling responsible to make sure other people are having fun. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, half of men (49 percent) and women (51 percent) surveyed in the questionnaire strongly agree that they feel a responsibility to make sure everyone in their family is happy.

Overall, however, most of the holiday stress is experienced by women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations. Despite living in a time when there is more gender equality than ever, women are still the main ones who are preparing meals and decorating the home. Doing the gift shopping. Wrapping gifts. Organizing the social calendar. And that’s on top of their already over-scheduled To Do list. Not surprising, women have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating. Cheesecake and wine anyone?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. To experience amazing Holidays, you just need to plan differently. I’m not talking about adding more items to your To Do list. Lord knows the last thing most of us need are longer lists.

What I’m suggesting is that you take a different approach to planning your Holidays this year and create exactly the Holidays you really want. Take 10 minutes to do this and it can save you days of anxiety and stress. It’s Holiday planning done right. Certainly having a truly amazing time is worth 10 minutes. Plus, if you want to really have a blast over the holidays, now is your chance to make sure you maximize the fun. 

Step 1. Get Clear on What You Want

Any savvy entrepreneur or personal development coach will tell you that if you want something, you need to know what it is. Start from the result you want to achieve and then work backward to figure out how to get there. Even in my clinical practice, I always asked patients for their goals. Simply saying, “I want to be out of pain,” or “I don’t want to be depressed anymore” isn’t good enough. The more detailed the goal, whether in business, personal development or health and medicine, the greater the chance that you’ll get there.

But don’t get too intellectual here. Take two minutes, and no more than two minutes. Visualize exactly the type of holiday you want. Visualize in detail how you want to feel and what you will look and how you will move when you’re living that way. Do you want to have a fun, stress-free time? Do you want to be able to slow down, relax and enjoy the season instead of running around like crazy, shopping and meeting all the demands you believe you should? Does throwing all the pressures out the window and creating a holiday exactly how you want it sound good to you?

Take a couple minutes to visualize exactly how you want the holidays to feel for you. What will it feel like to experience the season that way? How will you look? Relaxed? Rested? Will you have energy and feel excited? Will you laugh more and be more playful?

If want to feel more relaxed, what does that look like? What will your breathing be like? Will it be fuller and calmer? How will you hold your shoulder? Up around your ears like you’re stressed out? Or down, relaxed. Will you be rushing from place to place with your mind racing with all the things you have to get done? Or will you be moving slower, really looking around and enjoying the sights, smells and people? Will you be smiling and happy, or will you be stressed and tense?

There are no wrong answers. Write down whatever it is you want for yourself. Take two minutes and do that now.

Step 2. Decide Why You Want It

Once you’ve gotten clear on what you want, it’s time to discover the reasons why you want it. My wife Romi, a brilliant entrepreneur and best-selling author, has coached more than a hundred thousand people on her system for creating businesses and the lives they really want. In her best-selling book, Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint for Building a Life-Changing Business, she discusses the incredible power of Why. The reasons why you want something are what will keep you motivated and give you the drive and persistence to succeed.

Ask yourself this simple, but profoundly important question: Why do you want to create the the Holiday experiences you see for yourself?

Is it because you’ll finally be able to enjoy the Holidays? Is it because you’ll feel happier and have more energy? You’ll be able to be more emotionally present for your children and spouse? Or you’ll simply feel fantastic?

Write down in as much detail as you can why your vision is important to you. Not to anyone else. Why is it important to you? You need to have an emotional connection to your Why for it to be powerful enough. So dig deep. Take two minutes and do that now.

Step 3. Create Your Plan

Next you’ll create your plan. You’ll write down everything that you could possibly do to achieve this goal. But this is not a To Do. It’s a list of actions you could take—not that you necessarily will.

Your plan could include talking to your spouse and letting them know what you want this year. If you don’t want to cook the Thanksgiving meal, you could find a company to cater it, or ask your spouse if they want to cook instead. A couple years ago Romi, who had been shouldering the vast majority of the cooking and planning for years for our Thanksgiving, told me she didn’t want to do so much. She wanted to enjoy herself more. So instead of cooking a big meal ourselves, one year we had a potluck Thanksgiving with friends. One year we had it all catered. And last year we did a mix. She chose just what she wanted to do, and so did I.

I cooked the turkey. She made a couple of sides. We brought in the rest. And you know what? We had more time to spend with each other and our kids, we were more relaxed and we had a heckuva lot more fun than running around like crazy trying to do it all.

And if what would help you have an amazing Holiday Season this year would be to take a trip somewhere, then that’s OK too. Instead of spending the money on presents, perhaps taking yourself or your family on a vacation is part of your plan.

Whatever actions or resources you think would help you create your vision, write them down now.

Step 4. Get into Action

Finally, it’s time to act. A vision without a plan is just a hallucination. A plan without action is just a dream. But when you focus on your vision and take the steps to make it come true, that’s when you’ll start experiencing the Holidays (and everyting else in your life) exactly how you want them.

Every day, at least once a day, review what you want, why you want it and your plan. Visualize yourself feeling exactly how you want over the Holidays. See it clearly. Remind yourself why you want it so badly. And look at your plan, add to it, cross things off that don’t make sense anymore, and implement those actions to help you move forward.

One last thing. Do something now. As Tony Robbins, the worlds foremost expert in personal development teaches, never leave the site of a plan without taking an action. Before you finish this and go off to the next thing in your day, act. If you don’t want to cook, look up and call a catering company. Reach out to your spouse or partner with a text or email, or do it the old fashion way and give them a call. Tell them you want to schedule some time to meet today, or in the next day or two at the latest, to talk about the Holiday plans. And get an appointment on the calendar.

Whatever it is, do something now. And start making this year the most amazing Holiday Season ever! Comment below and tell us what you want your Holidays to be like this year and what you’re going to do to create it. 

References

Holiday Stress. American Psychological Association;2006. [report]

Mills D. Big Meals, Tight Schedules and Wallets: What Stresses Us Most at the Holidays. Healthline News 2015; https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-stresses-us-most-at-the-holidays-113015 – 1. Accessed November 1, 2017. [report]

Neustadt R. Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint for Building a Life-Changing Business. LiveFullOut Media, LLC; 2016. [book]

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