November 19, 2015

Setting Expectations During The Holidays

entrepreneuers timeFor all the joy and festivity the holidays are supposed to bring, the reality is that statistics find that it can be one of the most stressful times of the year for many people.  In addition to the normal crazy day-to-day, you’re also expected to find time to attend holiday events, decorate the house into a magical winterscape, buy and wrap presents, and cook meals and treats worthy of a cover shot on Bon Appetit.  And then let’s throw in the fact that you’re an entrepreneur and this may be one of your business’ busiest times of year too…The weight of the holiday tidal wave crashed into me the other day as I started to contemplate everything that needed to be done in both my personal life and my business life between now and the end of the year.   And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t even Thanksgiving and I was already starting to panic.  Something is wrong with that picture.

So I made a mini holiday resolution with myself – this year I will set expectations with everyone about what I can and cannot do.  First and foremost, that means being realistic about what I can complete (with my sanity in tact) and being ok with saying no to other opportunities.

First up was Thanksgiving planning where I’d been tasked to bring pumpkin pie and a few other items.  One quick call to the host, explaining that things were stressful but that I’d be happy to bring an apple pie (I have a ton of organic apples in my house right now – that’s what happens when you live in Washington State) or I could pick up a pumpkin pie from a local producer.   No problem she said and she suggested that other guests could take care of some of the other items I’d been asked to bring.

For another personal event I’d been asked to bring holiday cookies, decorated in their full glory.  I emailed that host and offered up (must less labor and time intensive) peppermint brownies instead.  “Sure thing,” she said, “that would be great.”

And it started to dawn on me that most people are just fine with whatever you want to do and are happy to make accommodations as needed  – they just don’t know what you need until you tell them.  So this year, if you’re finding yourself time-crunched and trying to be a good entrepreneur and a good friend/family member/spouse/partner/parent/child/etc. set your expectations with yourself first about what you want this holiday season and then speak up.  You may not be able to change everything that stresses you out, but if you can change even some of it that may be enough to make a world of difference.

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