This time of year brings a certain amount of anxiety with it. Some we can’t control, some we can. That’s right, you can actually control some of the anxiety that you experience. I’m going to give you a few tips to help you control the amount of anxiety that you experience.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
So many times, we add so much to our lives and our schedules – and mostly really good things – but in so doing we lose the value that we really have in building relationships. It’s harder to eliminate the clutter from our schedules because we like to be liked, and we like to be needed. When we spread ourselves so thin, though, we don’t take the time fully develop and savor the relationship.
If you ask my wife Julie, she will be the first to tell you that my culinary skills are in a continual phase of improvement, but they’ve definitely gotten better over the past fourteen years! Part of the reason they’ve improved so much is that they started in such an abysmal state. One day in particular, I unwittingly invoked a gag reflux in Julie, simply by adding a little too much onto my gourmet hotdog. Everyone knows that adding a little mustard and ketchup to a hotdog is an American tradition. You can also add some barbeque during the summer and be perfectly within the realm of acceptable. Feeling a little like making things even more interesting, add a little melted cheese and salsa and you have a veritable 5 star resort type dinner.
The problem is that any one of these is great, but add them all together at once, and you can even turn the stomach of a Marine that is used to eating nothing but MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat).
The same can be said with trying to add too much to our schedules this time of year. We won’t have time to actually simmer and enjoy the flavor of the relationships we truly want to develop if all we do is add more and more to our already overloaded schedules. So, here are just a couple ideas to help you get the most enjoyment out of the holidays:
1. Just say no. Say no when you get that casual invite to yet another holiday get together when your calendar is already full.
It’s ok and actually really powerful to just say no. I remember being single and that was my biggest weakness – saying yes to every invitation I got. “Sure, I’ll be there” was my typical response, only to dread trying to figure out how the heck I was going to attend everything I said I would. In fact, sadly, I couldn’t even enjoy the here and now, because I was consumed by the there and then. Nobody likes to feel like a stepping stone, but that’s exactly what I was doing when I put too many parties in my planner.
2. Create margin. Expect things to come up and plan for them by creating a little margin in your life.
Look at your weekly/monthly schedule and plan some time that is un-allocated. Time for you, time for others, time for just taking care of those last minute items. Just like the margin on your page, you have to plan for the unexpected things that come up during the week. I like to keep the 30 minutes before and after my lunch hour for such things. Maybe it’s a lunch that runs a little longer than usual because the person your meeting with is struggling with some really personally challenging issues and you’re the one there to help.
3. Action. Do something, even the unexpected.
If you find yourself anxiously waiting for something to happen, then do something constructive to pass the time. Go for a walk, clean your closet or return that item that’s still in the bag. Do something productive while you have a spare moment as it takes something off your to-do list and will actually give you energy.
There is a differnce between anxiety and anticipation. Anxiety is the fear of future issues whereas anticipation is excitement for what’s to come.
Let’s keep joyful anticipation in our focus and leave anxiety behind.