Christmas Coaching Tips – how to be more Zen at Christmas

This is the blog I wrote as guest Christmas Blogger for the Leadership Development Centre.  I wrote this back in November to help bring a sense of the spirit of Christmas to the feelings of pressure and looming deadlines.  Hurrah!  These tips worked for me as now I really feel I have got my Christmas Groove on.

Well here we are. The Summer Holidays and Christmas are almost upon us (unless you live in Wellington, then it feels the other way around).

Coaching clients have brought the impending holidays to my attention with comments such as; “how will we fit everything in and get all our projects done by the time they go on holiday?”. Friends have been saying “we must catch-up before Christmas”, and me thinking, with everything that is going on, that short conversation actually was the catch up!

So far my Christmas related thoughts have been:

  • This month, on which days will I do the 5:2 diet? (Answer – At this rate, not till after Christmas!)
  • When I try to work out my values so I can get into the spirit of Christmas, why do my top values at this time of year seem to be work and food?

Now it has got to the point when someone asks me what I am doing for Christmas, I am tempted to say airily “Oh just going to our family bach (we have no bach). Or upsize my response with a 2015 glamour holiday of, “Oh just going skiing in Japan (not doing that either).

Clearly it is time to activate self-coaching tips for keeping buoyant and fabulous during the Festive Season.

While out power-walking the hills of Mt Vic in Wellington, I got out my Christmas playlist on my iPhone, and decided to really listen to each song in order to get my Christmas groove on.

Even though I have trendily given up sugar, I nearly went hyperglycaemic with enjoyment at ‘Last Christmas’ by George Michael. Then I thought about John Lennon’s “War is over”, with its haunting lines, “So this is Christmas, and what have you done?”  Mmmm, there’s something in that. What have I done this year to make the world a better place?

Arriving back home, I had only one clear question on my mind:  When it comes to Christmas, am I a John Lennon gal or a Pogues gal?

Even though I adore the Pogues Christmas song, I have decided that this year, Christmas 2015, I am going to be a John Lennon Gal. I am going to think about what I have done, and also what I am grateful for.

At a recent meeting with two other coaches I asked them their best tips for an enjoyable Christmas, and top of their list was gratitude. So it’s top of this list too.

10 Tips for an enjoyable run-up to Christmas. 

  1. Be grateful. Reflect on what you have done this year, and all the things you are grateful for. This is even more powerful to do in a team, if each person says one thing they are grateful for in 2015.
  2. Don’t buy ‘stuff’ you don’t need or suspect no one else wants or needs either. It only ends up being crap people put in the bin anyway, which you already knew. Secret Santa need not be cheap and nasty Santa. If you are concerned about price and wanting to set a limit, try offering a skill. One of the best work Christmas lunches was when people offered a talent, and it was a treat to see home grown tomatoes being exchanged for eggs, manicures being traded for singing lessons.
  3. Don’t try to be perfect!  Perfection tendencies can really kick on at Christmas. Avoid carrying over any need for perfection into your Christmas prep. If you don’t enjoy making Christmas cakes or home made Christmas stockings, then don’t!  If you enjoy one aspect of holiday preparation, then do that.
  4. Focus on your top three values for this holiday period, and do your best to live them now. If yours are kindness, gratitude and calm then spend some time doing behaviours associated with those.
  5. No micromanaging of Christmas. Not that any of us micro-manage under stress, but in case we did, just let people be who they are. Don’t try to force everyone to join in a party or socialise. Remember people have different ways for reenergising and hanging out with groups of people.
  6. Related to that, plan some alone time in the run-up to Christmas. Take some time to go for a walk, read a book, and just be by yourself.
  7. Give wine a miss if you are not at a function. Your waistline will thank you in January.
  8. Don’t think everyone is having a better Christmas than you. They are not. People only ask what you are doing because they want to check that you are not out-Christmasing them.
  9. Start tidying your desk now. 15 minutes a day of de-cluttering will help you keep a clear brain, and will calm you as you know you are leaving everything tidy.
  10. Make a detailed list of things you need to remember when you return to work in January. It may look like your hand writing, but when you come back to work after a time away, this list will seem written by elves. So include some things to jog your memory. Just writing this list and filing will help your brain know how it can switch off.

And of course, put on your ‘out of office’ assistant on your email and phone. Technology can keep us addicted by rewarding us with a text or email (think Skinner’s pigeons), so the only way to break the habit is to literally cold turkey it.

On that bad pun, Happy Holidays.

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