It’s here. December.
The black hole into which our time, money, and sanity disappears.
Hello, cookies, wine, and travel headaches. Welcome back, credit card hangover. Greetings, panic attack-inducing store crowds.
Close out projects, set new goals,
Find the cards and stomach rolls,
Visit family, volunteer,
Sing about a red-nosed deer,
Baking, aching, and party hopping,
Oh, and don’t forget the shopping.
Serenity now, serenity now, serenity now. (And yes, I’m an amazing poet.)
So much to cram into 31 days. And, if we’re being honest, we never really have 31 days. Snow, flu, norovirus, last-minute emergencies, lost time spent in the fetal position coping with an unanticipated bill. Sigh.
This is not OK. Not. At. All.
We don’t want this. We want something less Lemony Snicket and more Hallmark holiday movie. And, we try to get there. We try to be present and mindful, and we work to create special moments. We focus on the spirit of the season and keep the bigger picture in mind. We really do try.
But…some of us also hold on to a touch of doom. Deep within, we house worry, dread, and preconceived notions about December — a trifecta of bad eggs that get in our way despite how hard we try.
Once we mentally create a future and tell our brains to prepare for it, we head down the road of “it’s just the way it will be.” We disempower ourselves by forfeiting our choices to external forces. We decide Hallmark land won’t happen, and our mindsets, thoughts, and behaviors start aligning accordingly. Self–fulfilling prophecies are the worst.
So, what can we do? As we agreed, it’s not like we want December to be a soul-sucking vortex of chaos. We want it to be merry and bright. We want to stay positive and make good choices. To reflect and meditate. To heal, love, and rejuvenate.
Breathe. Close your eyes. What does Hallmark land look like? Who do you get to be there? How does it smell, taste, and feel? (For the record, mine smells like Absinthe candle, red wine, and enchiladas, and I don’t know what to make of that.)
Can you see your Hallmark land? Good. This is your dream. Your vision.
Want it. Hug it. Hold it tightly. This is step 1.
But, we can’t stop here. Want alone doesn’t cut it.
Once we know what we want, we have work to do.
Work to gain clarity. Work to design our strategy. Work to take action.
- Clarity: We need to translate our want into a clear vision. What does our personal version of Hallmark land look like? How is it different from Decembers of years past? How are we different?
- Strategy: A bridge is needed between doom December and Hallmark land December. How do we build this bridge? What mindsets or behaviors do we change? What boundaries must we set and honor? What resources, actions, or decisions are needed? What might we need to let go of?
- Action: We are smart cookies and don’t need to define the word, “action.” But, we should acknowledge how hard action can be. We may disappoint people. We may have to be forgiving of ourselves and others if things get messy. We may have to accept we can’t be everything for everyone. (Remember when I said hold on tight to your Hallmark land vision? I meant it. It will be your compass when things are hard.)
Dream. Clarity. Strategy. Action. (Boom.)
So, as we head into the weekend, I ask you to think about what your Hallmark land looks like. Can you get clarity and carve out a strategy for realizing your vision? What actions might you take?
Now, let’s be clear. You don’t need to conquer the world in the next 48 hours, nor should you try. I encourage you to treat this exercise like an experiment: start with one or two priorities and actions, and see what happens. Try a few things on, and see how they fit. And then, each year, shape and build until your bridge spans the divide and holds the weight it needs to hold.
To get you started, I’ll share a few things I’m trying this year. Please feel free to share your own so we can benefit from the gift of collective wisdom.
- Be deliberate and purposeful in seeing things through a lens of humor. Like when I woke up covered from head to toe in poison ivy that had been incubating in the Christmas tree we cut down. Hilarious…after some careful thought. Or, when I found out everything on mini guru #2’s gift list was out of stock or available for pickup only…two states away. Hah! Time to get creative, find solutions, and accept that everything will be fine.
- Be honest about what truly needs to happen this month. It is in our nature to jam everything in, and we are super sneaky in rationalizing why it all must happen. But, most of us aren’t time benders or Energizer bunnies. So, we can’t get more done in one month than we typically complete in three. Some things will need to wait. Figure out what they are. Then, put them in your planner or list for next year. Make it real, and then let it go for the next few weeks.
- Honor boundaries. Boundaries are important, particularly in December. It is easy to bend them when caught up in the spirit of giving and serving, but if you are depleted, stressed, and resentful, then you likely can’t truly give and serve the way you want. Keep the boundaries strong.
- Be honest and mindful about spending and gift giving. We give gifts to convey kindness and appreciation…to tell someone they are in our hearts, and we are in their corner. We use it as an opportunity to meet a need or want of someone we love or someone we want to serve. The purpose of gift giving should proceed the purchase. So before I hit, “submit order,” I will ask myself whether my purchase is aligned with this spirit. Or, is it aligned with meeting my own needs…a purchase designed to alleviate fear or guilt…spending to give me a sense of control…something I’m buying because I’m panicking and just want to be done with it all.
I can’t wait to see how this goes, and I’m excited for you to carve out your own Hallmark land and build the bridge to reach it.
As always, a few questions to ponder:
- How would you describe your dream December vision?
- How might you build a bridge to this dream?
- What new things can you try this year? What changes can you make?
- What do you need to let go of or overcome to build your bridge?
- What will it feel like when you succeed?
Please feel free to share your thoughts; we’d love to hear from you!