The holidays are behind us; perhaps the “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” glow is beginning to fade.
Instead of settling into a midwinter slog, use the time to reflect on the aspects that make the holiday season special.
If you love the holiday-related activities in December, what makes them stand out to you? Many people would mention the generosity that people show, the extra time with family members or the focus on deeply meaningful beliefs.
If this is you, what would it take to bring these with you throughout the entire year?
Consider generosity. There is no doubt that giving is made easy for us, with bell ringers abounding and ever-present e-mail solicitations. News about people in need and kindhearted people stepping up to help also seems to be more abundant. However, the spirit of giving that this triggers can be brought forward throughout the year. Some ideas? Try making a “giving calendar” for yourself and your family that has plans for ways to reach out to help.
Maybe on the first of every month you bring a donation to a food shelf, or you pick a different agency to send a check to each month. The amounts don’t have to be large; any amount will help the organizations, and the act of generosity will help you.
You can also choose to make more time for the people in your life. Get-togethers get clustered around holidays, but there is stress that accompanies that. Try setting up more frequent coffees, lunches or dinners with friends or family members during less busy times of the year. Or just take the time to chat on the phone more often; again, it’ll bring good results for everyone.
What if you find the holidays to be a drag? You may be trying to overcome the residual pressures rather than holding onto the fun. Consider ways to focus beyond that. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude practices, and have seen some easy ways to put them into action. Here are some ideas.
• Make a gratitude jar. Whenever something happens that you’re grateful for, write a note on a slip of paper. At the end of the year — or when you’re feeling down — you can look at the notes to perk you up. They don’t have to be a big deal; it may be as simple as “traffic wasn’t bad today” or “I saw a great sunset.”
• Keep a gratitude journal. Same concept, in book form.
• Have a gratitude trigger. A favorite of mine is to think about something I’m grateful for every time I hit a red light.
The key to remember is that the only thing we control is our response to a situation. We can create a beautiful reality, even when faced with challenges, or we can live in a world of regret.
I wish us all positive thoughts, resilience and serenity in 2014.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.