How to experience the holidays (not just survive them!)

Here we are, heading into the holidays once again—many of us feeling a strange mixture of excitement, stress, sadness, and joy.

As I talk to clients and friends about what makes this season so hard, I’ve noticed a theme: expectations vs. reality.

We expect the holidays to be warm and fuzzy, filled with moments we’ll cherish. But our reality is often much more frazzled and tense.

The expectations of others are also a thing. And when reality doesn’t measure up (because we can’t please everybody!), they’re disappointed with us.

If this resonates with you, I invite you to meditate on one of my favorite quotes by Henry James.

“It’s time to start living the life you imagined.”

Which is to say, it’s time for you to be truly present during the holidays, instead of simply “surviving” them.

I happen to think this season is ripe for making changes and setting boundaries, which means potentially disappointing people you care about. It’s OK.

Consider this: When we put necessary boundaries in place, we often upset others—but end up creating a better experience for those who matter most.

Deciding to spend Christmas morning at home with my girls and Nick means our extended families don’t see us until later that day. But it creates a more intimate and memorable experience for us.

If you find it hard to step into this mindset (during the holidays or whenever), I invite you to ask yourself these two simple questions.

How do I want to feel?

Is it important for you to feel grounded and calm during this season? Or do you thrive off of the flurry of excitement? Identify the feelings you want to experience over the next few weeks.

What makes me feel that way?

What makes you feel calm and grounded? Is it a night at home in your pjs with Netflix? Is it a dinner date with you and a friend? What excites you when it comes to the holidays? Is it a day full of shopping for your loved ones? Or planning a surprise trip to take in the New Year? Consider what makes you feel what you want to feel, and make sure you’re scheduling time for it.

It’s time to start experiencing the holiday you imagined—and the life, too.

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