Christmas, Business, Life Balance – Aarrgh!

Christmas + Business + Life Balance =

  1. “Bah humbug”
  2. “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.
  3. “There are no winners in life, Only survivors”
  4. No problems – I got it sorted!
  5. Love Christmas, this is my favorite time of year.

 

Now, I don’t know your response. But I can tell you over the 34 years of Christmas, my response has changed.

Businesses are generally in one of two categories.

Category 1. This is our busiest or most stressful time of year.

Category 2. We close down for business.

I am sure you can see your business in one of these categories.

So why does Christmas create such stress for so many of us?

  • Personal memories or anniversaries
  • Paying of monies without income
  • Extra costs and delayed income
  • Super Busy
  • Trying to fit so much in with limited time available
  • Un realistic expectations
  • Business anniversaries – End of Year, budgets, reviews, planning etc.
  • External commitment increases, e.g. where you volunteer or assist, end of year functions etc.
  • Balancing staff with holidays, religious and cultural anniversaries

Just to name a few

So how can you achieve all this and have a good Christmas?

There is no magic answer, as it is different for everyone.  However I do have some suggestions that have made my Christmas’s much more enjoyable.

  1. Pre Plan – Lists, Budgets, Basically treat this as a project and plan, plan, plan.
  2. Set a budget and stick to it. – Easier said than done, but include in your budget a bit of a buff zone.
  3. Plan time out for yourself. Without this you will most likely not enjoy christmas
  4. Allow yourself a bit of selfishness. Get yourself a small treat e.g. a massage, or hair appointment, or good book.
  5. Be at peace with saying – No. Everyone will want something from you, feel OK about refusing every single request.  In short, you really will only increase your own burden if you are not OK with saying No.
  6. Look after your health, your spiritual, your mental wellbeing. This is important.

Now, for 33 of my 34 business years, I have improved on Christmas each year. However each year I strive to get better at this.  However, Last year, I finally found my magic formula.  So I am going to let you into my secret.

I have a Category 2 business.  So we close down, have no income, have expenses, increased demand just prior to Christmas, and know we are coming back to a full load in the New Year.   Each year I have planned, budgeted, and even given myself some time off e.g. a holiday.  But each year I have felt stressed – until last year.  I tried something totally new, and for me – wow, what a difference.  So much so, that now I won’t do Christmas again by choice without this new step.

Here is what I do.

  1. Plan, budget and organize.
  2. Watch my health, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
  3. Express in advance all the steps with my key staff, so we are all on the same page.

Here is the magic for me.

I disappear and float down the Murray River for the 5 days to a week leading up to Christmas, only returning home on Christmas Eve.  So I no longer deal with the stress on the road, with last minute shopping, Christmas wrapping, extra drinks and dinners.  I am either ready a week before, or too bad.

This really works for me.  I had everything ready either around the tree, or in the freezer ready to pull out.  The fresh food I need, I pick up on the late afternoon of Christmas Eve.

So in simple terms, I found my “opt out” option that suited me.  I took it, to escape the worst time.  Why has this been the worst time?

  • I used to get extra requests to meet, catchup, do something. – Even if asked, I just can’t do anything.
  • Last minute shopping and dealing with all the stress that involves. Being away in a river with no shops – this is not an option.
  • I forgot something – too bad. We will have to live with this fact.  It is surprising how little of this matters, or can be easily solved, when you have to.
  • People start realizing you are not there and they stop asking you to help. Now, that is nice for a week.
  • You are planned and organized and you are prepared to leave. So you just let go on the mental pressure.

My suggestion, is for you to find you’re off switch, and use it at the best time for you.  So if you are a category 1 business, this may be before the Christmas build up.  You may also need another one after Christmas.  If you are a category 2 – like me, consider your own opt out.  It may be a simple as demanding a day or two to sit in the back yard and read a book – without phones or family demands, so this may take a bit of pre thought – but you can do it.

For those of you who face a bad anniversary Christmas, such as a family loss anniversary.  Sharing your pain can often help.  I know of a few people in this boat, and friends to these people we keep in our prayers, in our Christmas plans – so that life is easier for them during this period, and we are open to allow them to share or talk when they need during the difficult times.  So if you wish to share, please comment on this blog, and share.  Sharing this information often reduces the pain dramatically.

I know this will sound selfish, but I have found my solution, and I plan to have a really blessed and peaceful Christmas.  I hope that if you read this, you will “like” this, and have the Christmas you desire.

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