Thursday December 20, 2018
Happy holidays! Today's blog post is a few days early, because who wants to read business emails and work-related blog posts on Christmas Day?
OK, I'm sure there are some of you out there, and hey, I'm not here to judge. :P
But if you ARE reading this on Christmas, that might be a sign that you have a special need for it, because today's article is about how to let go and relax during your holidays, instead of feeling constantly guilty because you "should" be getting work done.
Full disclosure: this is an area where I myself need to grow.
I have a long and well-established history of "shoulding all over myself".
If I don't do SOMETHING productive on Saturday - which is supposed to be my "do NOTHING except for what I feel like doing" day - I find myself struggling with guilt and the feeling that I've wasted the day and therefore can't expect to succeed. This even happens when I've already worked over 40 hours that week, and I have plans to do a few light tasks on Sunday.
When I'm in that position, or preparing to take some time off, here are a few things that help me to let go, so I can feel relaxed, present and rejuvenated instead of losing more emotional energy to guilt than I regain by taking a break:
1. Set expectations for the day.
If I get it in my head that I'll get this or that little task done in between my leisure activities, and I then proceed not to feel like it or get around to it, it eats at me - even if I am very specifically NOT supposed to be working that day.
Discrepancies between expectations and reality can be terrible things, if you let them get their hooks in your mind.
If a day is specifically supposed to be set aside for leisure, be careful to avoid setting the expectation that you'll do something productive that day. If the mood to work strikes you, and getting that task done feels good, you can go ahead and do it, but be careful not to think of it as a thing you "should" be doing during your precious day off. You probably already spend enough time "shoulding" during the work week.
2. Make sure everything is squared away before the holiday.
If you have a time-sensitive task that's not complete, people expecting to receive a call from you, or some other form of unfinished business that people will expect you to take care of over the holiday, you'll probably have a very hard time keeping that from nagging at your mind and replacing relaxation with stress.
In these cases, it might be worth working a bit of extra time before the weekend to get all that stuff off your plate, so you can settle in and enjoy your holiday instead of having several days of down time tainted by a few hours of unfinished work. Another option is to delegate some of that work to people like professional copywriters (insert shameless self-plug here), so you can get everything done without having to work until midnight on Friday.
If the task's completion depends on another person, such as a client project that needs the client's feedback or approval, make sure everyone involved is aware of your schedule and boundaries.
For example, you could say to the client, "I understand that it's important to get this done quickly. I want to help you get this finished before the Christmas holiday, so please send me your feedback by tomorrow morning so we can get it done before the weekend. If you aren't able to do that, I'll be back in the office on Wednesday, and I can work on it then. In the meantime, have a great holiday!"
Setting clear expectations for your clients and team is just as important as setting expectations for yourself, if not more so.
3. Understand that you're probably the only one who expects you to work.
Unless you're in a profession where your services might be ABSOLUTELY needed during the holidays, or you're in the middle of a time-sensitive project that affects other people, most people won't expect or even WANT you to contact them during the Christmas holiday.
And if they do expect you to keep working on Christmas, that's probably their issue, not yours. As dating coach Barry Price said to me, "When you're dealing with people's unreasonable reactions, just picture the seagulls from Finding Nemo. Remember how they kept saying 'Mine! Mine! Mine!'? Don't be those seagulls. Other people's inappropriate reactions are THEIR responsibility, and you need to remind yourself that 'that's not mine'."
4. Get it over with.
What if, after all of that, you STILL have a task that's nagging at your mind, and you just can't relax until it's done?
If all else fails, and getting this thing taken care of will give you more peace than trying to ignore it, it might be better to just get it over with. Set aside an hour or so to get this peace-stealer off your plate, so you can feel like you've accomplished something and been productive, which will hopefully free you to enjoy the rest of your holiday instead of spending it stewing on The Thing That Should Be Done But Isn't.
Do you have any tips for how to relax and let go during weekends and holidays? I'm sure there's someone who needs them! *cough*likeyourstruly*cough*
If you have any strategies, exercises, practices or mindset hacks that help you to break free of "should"s and workaholism, I'd love to hear them! For someone reading this, your nugget of wisdom might be the difference between spending their holiday feeling stressed out and distracted, or being able to be completely present and happy during their break, so they can be refreshed and powerful when they resume working on their business.