Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's New year's Eve and I hope each and every one of you has a safe, fun and memorable celebration.

Sometimes we make beginning a new year very hard on ourselves. We pledge to make numerous changes in our lives, to lose those extra pounds, to get that promotion, to take that trip we've been planning for years. We swear that this year will be different than the rest, better than before. It doesn't matter that we've made these promises to ourselves for years now; somehow we believe that this year will be different.

And yet somehow it isn't. Why is that? Because:

1) We have too many goals. Change is hard, so trying to change multiple facets of your life all at once is extremely difficult. Prioritize your goals and work on one or two at a time. The others will keep for another day.

2) Our goals are unreasonable. I don't care how much you love horses, if you are a 6 foot tall, 250lb. man, you are not going to be a jockey. Don't give up on your dreams, simply put aside unattainable goals and work on those you have a real chance of achieving.

3) We don't have a plan of action to achieve our goals. You need to map out a plan for reaching your goals on a day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month schedule, with firm dates for reaching your goals and milestones to mark your progress.

This year I plan to put these three steps into action. This year I will succeed, because I will follow a plan for focusing my energy on accomplishing what I need to do in order to reach my goals.

May you reach your goals in 2009! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stress-Free Holiday

Okay, okay, there is probably no such thing as a stress-free holiday, simply because we insist on packing so much activity into such a short time. Shopping, baking, cleaning, mailing packages, writing Christmas cards, entertaining, attending parties. Whew! It's enough to make anyone dizzy. So, if we can't elimiate stress entirely, here are five ways to reduce stress during the holidays.

1) Make a plan. Instead of running around to several different stores, decide what you're shopping for and where best to find it, then head out. Try to stick to one geographical area at a time - the mall on Friday night, the local shopping center on Sat., etc.

2) Shop during off hours if possible. Take an early lunch one day and get a few things done, or come into work extra early and take off at three. Of course, it helps to have a flexible work schedule and an understanding boss. If you can't swing that, several stores open as early as 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. on weekends and stay open late during the holidays.

3) If you do get stuck in a long line, take a deep breath. Try to use the time productively. Enjoy the lovely music, think of the fun you're going to have with your kids, reminisce about your favorite Christmas, people watch. You're stuck in line anyway, why be miserable? Same thing goes for the cookies that burn or the gelatin that won't set. Don't sweat the small stuff and lose sight of the important stuff.

4) Prioritize. As the holiday draws nearer, you may not be able to get everything on your list done. Decide which items must be done and focus on those. Christmas will still come if you don't get every decoration up or make that extra batch of fudge.

5) Remember why we're celebrating. It should be a time of joy, of love, of opening our hearts to those around us. Don't let little things get you down. Enjoy the time we are given to spend with our loved ones. It's priceless.