Be your own Ally this Holiday Season

Well, here we are – right in the “thick of it”. Our holiday season is in full swing, and it couldn’t be busier at both work and home. We are all trying to get countless things done in a really short period of time: end of year work commitments/goals, shopping lists, holiday parties, travel preparation, baking, and the list goes on and on. This time of year is focused on being selfless and giving to others – which can sometimes come at the expense of our own enjoyment of the season.

My challenge to you during the remaining days of 2018 is to be an Ally to yourself.

Morag Barrett explains, in the book Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships, there are four qualities of an Ally Mindset: Abundance & Generosity, Action & Accountability, Courage & Vulnerability, and Candor & Debate. We most often think of these qualities in reference to how we treat others, and it also applies to how you treat yourself. Following are some tips to successfully navigate this holiday season while still being an Ally to your most critical stakeholder – you!

Abundance & Generosity

This is about believing there is more than enough _______ [fill in the blank: time, resources, etc.] to go around. How can you practice abundance and generosity with yourself? It can be as simple as scheduling quiet/planning/thinking time, “get stuff done” time, exercise, prayer, alone time with your significant other, etc. – whatever you need to take care of you. This in turn will help you be in the right mood to truly be present with others. Most of us have some time off from work during these last couple weeks of the year. This time is meant to celebrate the success of the current year and rejuvenate us in preparation for the year ahead. If we do not honor this time off, we will show up for work after the New Year celebration and be completely exhausted.

Reflections: What do you need right now? When can you take some time for yourself during the craziness of the next few weeks? Schedule it now.

Action & Accountability

One aspect of building Ally relationships is keeping commitments that you have made. This is about doing what you say you are going to do it when you say you are going to do it. However, what happens when you have over-committed (especially at this time of year)? Renegotiate! Being accountable also incorporates renegotiating commitments. Renegotiating commitments and timelines (vs. not getting it done and not talking about it) can relieve stress for both parties, put your mind at ease, and allow time for those most critical tasks and relationships that you need to truly focus on right now.

Reflections: What commitments do you have to keep over the next few weeks? What can you renegotiate? What can you do differently? What can you eliminate?

Courage & Vulnerability

Simply stated: Ask for help. How often do you ask for help? How do you respond when others offer help? I will be the first one in line to help you (before you even ask), but have realized I am the very last one to ask and receive help from others. It literally makes me uncomfortable. Recently, I was sick for several weeks and realized the power of this simple act. My friends and family wanted to cook for me, clean the house, run errands, and just visit. I kept saying “no” and realized (when I was in pain and trying to get groceries on crutches) that I was being absolutely ridiculous to not accept their help. Others can see you are stressed and WANT to help. You are actually honoring the giver if you accept their help, and it strengthens your relationship.

A final note on this – remember that when you ask for help, you have to be comfortable with the results. For example, if you ask for help cleaning before the party, it may not be done “your way”, but it’s DONE. Check it off the list!

Reflections: What is on your list that others can help you with? What can you delegate at work? Who can you ask for help? What are you willing to let go?

Candor & Debate

This is about discussing the “un-discussables”. I’m not suggesting you walk around debating with yourself out loud, nor being ‘too’ honest during those controversial holiday conversations (when no one really wins). This is about being honest with yourself and asking the tough questions. Do you really have to do this thing (whatever it is) the way you have always done it?

  • Do you have to bake 12 dozen cookies (with your special recipe) for your all of your co-workers?
  • Do you have to invite everyone to your holiday party? Do you even need to have the party?
  • Do you have to spend the entire holiday with your in-laws? Could you sneak away for an hour or two?
  • Do you have to decorate? [We are skipping outside lights this year and maybe next year too!]

We get very caught up in doing things at work and at home because we have always done it that way. We think that people are expecting us to do this thing – they are expecting this gift or a certain food item at the holiday dinner. What we don’t realize is that they may not want it, aren’t expecting it, and maybe never even liked it in the first place! Do what really matters this holiday season.

Reflections: What do you really have to do? What activities/commitments will have the most impact? What can you let go of?

Wishing you all a beautiful and peaceful holiday season. Make every minute count!