I love the month of December.
That said, there is no shortage of folks who despite their professed love of the holidays, also include a “but” in every sentence they utter or post they write. “I love this time of year, but…” or “I love the holidays, but…” And the following clause is usually a statement of struggle or overwhelm. It can stand alone.
Which is telling.
It negates what proceeds it. It negates that line about how much you say you love this time of year and the holidays.
The word “but” is a real pain in the butt.
This isn’t a post on language though. It’s a post about self awareness this time of year.
I too had a lot going on from mid-November until last week. A lot of projects that needed managing and attention. I’ve found that what really makes me cranky though isn’t anything I do or don’t do. It is always others’ expectations. Others’ behaviors. The things I really cannot control and must accept. I found myself pulled in a lot of directions, tired, overwhelmed, not feeling great physically, emotionally or mentally.
There were easily 3-5 super cool networking events every day this month. They all looked incredible. There’s easily 25 awesome Christmas/holiday/winter themed activities around Philadelphia to do this time of year. Plus the birthdays, the parties, the gifts to buy, the Santa visit, etc.
I want all the things to go smoothly. Except they rarely do. I want to do all the things. And then I don’t. Then I realize realistically I can do maybe…5 things all month.
Here’s what I did to help myself:
- I reminded myself that the work and the things will be completed. There IS indeed an end. It may not happen on everyone’s timeline, maybe not even my own, yet it will be completed. One thing at a time. I have a track record of getting things done and getting them done well.
- Done and done well is better than perfect and obsessing over outcome.
- I have more power than I think in these moments of overwhelm. I have the power to pause, to think, to set a boundary, to speak up, to ask for what I need, to say yes and no. I did so. Not everyone liked it.
- I have the ability to prioritize and focus. I did so, and again, not everyone liked it.
- I have the ability to tune in to myself, to listen to how I physically feel, how I mentally feel, how I emotionally feel. I did this and most nights I came home and watched a movie and fell asleep. I skipped a lot of things.
And it’s OK. I don’t need to do everything, be everywhere, prove anything. I just need to think about what’s most important to me. How do I want to feel? What do I love? Where can I save time? Where can I make time?
Because the thing is, this isn’t just December. And anyone who says otherwise is full of crap. It’s a lazy excuse. This happens year round. It’s the snow in the winter…it’s spring break vacations…it’s all the parties and graduations in May and June…it’s the endless summer vacations and camps…it’s back to school. We glorify busy year round. We love to say how busy we are, how much there is to do, how crazy things are “this time of year.” And the word “but” creeps back into our language.
As soon as we recognize this and start choosing ourselves, choosing how we want to feel, the answers become clear and the sense of obligation and martyrdom fades. Even those things we have to do (office parties, school functions), we can choose to do with grace (and maybe even bail out early!) Because it’s about choosing you. Which also means no guilt.
I’m not doing all the things. I’ve said no more times than I can count. I’ve respectfully RSVPed “no” and been honest with the people I love. I have sighed many times because so many events look amazing. Then I remember how I want to feel and what makes me feel the best. It always looks like the same 4-5 experiences. So I choose those few experiences. And I am present in those moments.
I hope in the coming days remaining in 2017, you remember how you want to feel and choose you. I hope you do it with dignity and respect – to yourself and others.
I love December. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Chrissie DiAngelus is the President & Founder of Art & Connections, a company that launches inspired, purpose-driven women creatives into higher levels of leadership and success. She blends business strategy, arts and a desire to serve into her offerings. Learn more about the company and about Chrissie. Interested in exploring how to work together? Contact Chrissie today.