Be Kind (to Yourself). Unwind.
by Sasha Viasasha
The holidays can be some of the most stressful times of the year. On one hand, they normally offer some well-deserved time off and a break from the relentless demands of deadlines, long days exhibiting at shows and juggling an exhausting travel schedule. On the other hand, they also tend to be associated with acute family pressures and financial turmoil.
Who’s really in charge here: you or the holidays? There’s no reason to allow seasonal expectations to steamroll you into bad decisions. If you’re serious about wanting to reach your next level of goals, you need to make the time during the holidays to get a solid read on your internal state.
January is named for Janus, the Roman god of “Looking Ahead and Looking Back.” He had two faces to clearly view both the future and the past. There’s great wisdom in this forgotten practice. And there’s no better time than midwinter to consider what’s passed this year and what possibilities lay ahead in the coming spring and months down the road.
In order to reach that next level of success — whether it’s the promotion you’ve been eyeing or simply discovering an internal happiness — use the holiday season as a time to reflect on where you are in the present.
Philosopher Sam Keen said it best in his workshop What’s Next? Reviewing and Revisioning Our Lives: “Periodically, we need to review and revise our lives. Every decade of the lifecycle brings new challenges, goals, pleasures and horizons. Every crisis, divorce, illness, tragedy, success, failure or retirement requires us to make a new beginning, take stock of our past and look for a new vision to guide us toward a more hopeful future.”
This is a time to press yourself for serious answers to essential questions about who you are and what you want to be. In looking back, the point is not to berate yourself for mistakes or a lack of accomplishments. Instead, think of errors along the way as lessons learned. What have they shown you about yourself? In which areas do you need help to achieve your goals?
Similarly, looking ahead has its pitfalls. Don’t get distracted by desire, which is always searching for something more. When you begin by thinking of everything you don’t have, despair is close at hand. Instead, think of concrete steps you can take, beginning immediately, to build your confidence in achieving your ideal life.
The simple fact is, most people do everything they can to avoid answering these questions: Are you where you want to be right now? What are some specific course corrections that can bring you closer to your goals?
In this quest, family members can actually become allies instead of obligations. Instead of worrying about the friction points among your extended family, consider finding out more about each of them, where they are in life and how close they are to their goals. Sometimes, the path to overcome obstacles is right in front of you. The trick is to view it from another perspective.
As exhibiting professionals, it’s too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae that consume us. We’re dedicated to the details within our work, leaving our own lives at risk of being overlooked.
Give yourself the gift of clarity this holiday season. Time is a tool, not an enemy. Those who have been successful in life know the value of five minutes and use their time for continuous improvement. That doesn’t mean “Never have fun.” It means aligning everything you do to be in the service of your goals.
It’s often said that technology and the frantic pace of daily life have separated us from the people and objectives we care most about, but few people attempt to make any changes in their lives until it is too late. Time is on your side right now, so this holiday season step back, look back and look ahead.
Sasha Viasasha is a professional writer with an eclectic background including the insurance, technology and science fields. She blogs on issues related to business, culture and storytelling.