25 November 2013

Tips For Keeping Your Goals in Focus During the Holidays

On the face of it, the holidays might seem to be the worst season of the year to try to make progress on your big work-life goals. Who has the time? At home you may have gifts to buy, cards to send, meals to plan, or travel to arrange. At work, you may need to cover for a co-worker who is taking time off or to put in extra hours to finish projects you need to complete by the end of the year.

Even if you have to do all of those things and more, you may have opportunities to move forward on your work-life goals that won’t come again for another 12 months. Over the Thanksgiving holiday and the holidays that follow, you may have a chance to connect with people who are — or could become —  a vital part of a support system that will help you realize your dreams. Here are some ways to tap the opportunities:

1. Renew lapsed connections with holiday greetings. It isn’t always easy to know how to re-start the conversation with someone you’ve lost touch with – maybe a former co-worker who might have a fresh perspective on a career change you hope to make, or a childhood friend who might understand, better than anyone else, the challenges you face in caring for your mother.  At this time of year, you don’t need to do more than send a greeting card (or message via Facebook) that says: “Happy Holidays! I’ve missed you. Let’s get together in 2014.”

2. Get together with former classmates or old friends.  Some of your former classmates may know you better than many friends you’ve made in recent years. And Thanksgiving — a prime time for high school reunions — may give you a chance to re-connect. If you dislike reunions, you might try to get together with few favorite classmates or old friends for a casual brunch or dinner. Those old friends may remember and admire strengths of yours that others don’t see as clearly, and you may find it easier to talk with them than with your co-workers about your work-life concerns.

3. Harvest ideas that occur to you during the holidays. Most of us have struggled to solve a problem at home or at work, only to have a solution come to us when we took a break to focus on something else.  So you may get great ideas about how to reach a goal while you’re off work for a holiday — when you’re relaxing around a fireplace, say, or up to your elbows in flour while making cranberry bread. One key to making the most of those ideas is to capture them promptly so that they don’t get lost. You can do this with a note-taking app such as Evernote, which lets you type in your ideas or voice-record them. If you prefer to put your ideas on paper, you’ll find ideas on how to capture your notes and organize them into to-do lists in David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

4. Nourish deeply.  Give yourself at least one good segment of doing something that replenishes you internally at the soul level or inner-self level.  (For some people, this actually looks like not-doing.)   Some examples: a walk in the woods, going dancing, reading a novel, kayaking with friends, time alone.  And don’t underestimate the healing power of getting enough sleep.  It’s easy to underestimate the importance of nourishing deeply, or to consider it frivolous or self-indulgent, but it’s not.  When you replenish your internal stores, you return to your “ordinary life” with greater focus and capacity than you had before.  Dedicate the time to re-charge your batteries. 

 Whether or not you’ll make big changes this season, if you keep your intentions front of mind, you’ll have a head start on reaching them in 2014. Happy Thanksgiving!