Happy Holidays! It’s that time of the year again—time for Christmas music, hot cocoa, shopping, wrapping, and my personal favorite, ugly sweater parties (not really). It’s also a time of year that can get very hectic and very overwhelming for many of us.
This month, I’d like to spend some time focusing on how to get the most out of this holiday season spiritually, emotionally, and physically. With stores now beginning to run “Black Thursday” specials one day earlier, I think it’s become fairly obvious that our holiday season has become less of a celebration and more of a rush-around-and-see-how-much-you-can-spend-and-get-done sort of “celebration.”
It’s so unfortunate isn’t it? It’s unfortunate that we’ve tainted such a magical time of year. Think about how different things are around the holidays. We’re usually a bit nicer (as long as no one tries to budge in front of us in line at Target), we’re typically more generous, and there seems to be some sort of unspoken unity among all of us.
Or….we do a good job of pretending, in public anyway. At home, I think many of us are trying to figure out how to simply survive the holidays more than anything else. Let’s admit it; this time of year allows that dirty old snake we know as anxiety to come slithering in. We feel that old familiar tightness in our shoulders, we don’t sleep as well (because we’re running over the to-do list in our minds), and we haven’t the faintest idea how all of the shopping, wrapping, baking and cleaning will get done.
Yikes! Just typing that paragraph is enough to make anyone go running for the hills. So this year, what if we all TRIED to take a more relaxed approach to the holidays? What if we actually kept it SIMPLE? I’m pretty sure many of us said the same thing last year: “Next year, I’m not doing all of this. I’m not shopping as much and I’m going to spend less. I’m not baking as much. We’re not going to as many parties.” Sound familiar? So what if we actually took our own advice and actually enjoyed a nice, simple, holiday season?
It may sound ridiculous, but think about it. YOU decide what you do with your time. YOU possess the ability to simply say no to all of the extras that really aren’t that necessary. YOU can say no. YOU can go to fewer parties and avoid the extra holiday goodies that just make your pants tight and your tummy rumble. I mean, who actually feels good or wants to sit near you after eating all of that anyway?
Let me introduce a concept you might actually be interested in following: The 80/20 Rule. In food terms, think of it as the idea of eating well 80% of the time and allowing yourself a treat from time to time. For example, if you’re going to a party where the residents of the home you’re headed to use a lot of processed foods or premade party trays, then consider eating before you go, bringing your own food (sounds slightly lame, yes…but it beats the gas you may experience later or having to unbutton your pants in public), or just eating a treat you haven’t had in a while (i.e., the 20%) to make you feel like you’re indulging a little.
But wait—you can also apply The 80/20 Rule to the rest of your holiday season. Stay with me, here. This 80/20 business is actually based on something called the Pareto Principle, which states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
We all know that math isn’t exactly my forte, but I think you can translate this into understandable language: 20% of the activities you do account for the majority (80%) of your happiness and outputs. So, apply it to this time of year and begin to ask yourself a few easy, but important questions:
- Do all of the tasks I typically give myself at this time of the year HAVE to get done?
- Will the holidays fall apart if I don’t have the “perfect” gift for everyone on my list (and by the way, do you really need to buy as many gifts as you think you do)? Well, if you really do, then may I suggest a great holiday gift idea here!
- Will my neighbors and friends faze me out if I don’t hand over that delicious fruit cake I usually give them every year?
In other words, try focusing your time this year on the 20% that you actually enjoy, versus the other 80% on various things you feel like you have to do.
What should that 20% include, you ask? I think it’s probably a little different for all of us, but for me personally, I want to spend that meaningful 20% focusing on the reason for the season and why I’m even celebrating in the first place. I want to meditate on what and who I’m blessed enough to have in my life. I want to slow down and erase things on my list that really aren’t all that necessary. I want to clean a little less when people come over and spend my time sipping hot cocoa while humming along to my favorite Christmas song. I want to shop less and run fewer errands, using that “extra” time for my family and friends—because more time with me is what they really want anyway.
So take a few moments in the coming weeks to think about changes you can make to keep things simple this holiday season. How can you slow down, apply The 80/20 Rule and really enjoy yourself, your family and your friends? You never know; prioritizing and focusing on the 20% that really matters just might change your life!