1. Drive carefully. In January, I heard a highway patrolman say that the State of South Carolina averaged 2 fatal car accidents between Thanksgiving 2012 and New Year’s Day 2013. “That was two families we had to call every day to tell them their loved ones were never coming home. It was awful,” he said. I wish you could have heard his voice, because it would have gotten the message through to you loud and clear. When you drive this holiday season, lay aside all distractions and fully focus on operating your vehicle. The text, call, clock, and to-do list can wait. Life isn’t a video game. Dead is dead forever. So please, drive carefully.
2. Be patient, and plan more time for everything. Everybody crawls out of their hole, gets in the car, and goes this time of year. It’s more traffic, more crowds, more lines, and more waits. What took 10 minutes in October can very likely take 30 minutes or longer now. You need a pound of patience to get through the holiday rush, and unfortunately most of us don’t have that much. So plan ahead, be practical, and understand that things are going to take longer to get done for the next six weeks.
3. With that being said, I also urge you to be mindful of deadlines. Strange but true: the world is still operating and there’s still plenty to be done in the coming weeks. Don’t let deadlines sneak up on you. If you’re have a goal to get something done before the end of the year, get started (you really should have started in early November) and look for deadlines. Remember that this is peak season for many businesses as they close out for the calendar year – it’s not limited to retail. Sit down with your calendar today to make your goals, figure out deadlines, and find out how to get things done without the last minute OMG attacking you right when you don’t need it most.
4. Be mindful of your finances and get organized. With so many Christmas presents to buy, it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve bought, how much you’ve spent, and what you’ve missed. After you figure out the deadlines in #3 above, make another list of people you need to buy presents for and take an inventory of what you need to put Christmas on this year. Save that list in your smartphone and update it daily if you must. There are lots of ploys and traps to part you from your money this time of year, so be smart and be aware. Do you really need that giggling penguin with its foot smooshed in a cupcake? Do you really want it? If you think about it a little longer, I’ll bet you’ll actually find it quite disturbing.
5. Watch what you eat. By this, I mean that goodies are everywhere. Before you eat something, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. It’s easy to mindlessly munch (especially if you work in an office), and then hit a midday slump or reach for the TUMS without realizing you did your own self in. So be mindful of your noshing in the days ahead.
6. Take some breaks. The holidays can be a fun time of year, but it’s easy to get “Christmas overload.” I know you want to enjoy the season and all the fun that you only get once a year, but turning off the holiday carols for a day, foregoing a holiday movie in lieu of a sci-fi movie, or leaving one room undecorated doesn’t make you a Grinch. It makes you a well balanced human being.
7. Plan some time to yourself. It’s also easy to get social overload with the constant bombardment of celebrating with family and friends. Yes, it’s good to see everybody, but you also need some time to yourself to rest and restore your balance, and you need to take care of yourself. Again, skipping an event here or a party there doesn’t make you a Grinch. It makes you a savvy entrepreneur of your time. Face it; nobody can do it all during the holiday season. Pick what you like best and do that. The holidays will always come back around, and you can catch a few things you missed next year.
8. Realize that how others act is a 100% reflection on them and a 0% reflection on your or anybody else. We naturally deal with more people this time of year, and as such the emotions will flare up. Human beings have a complex yet not really sophisticated array of defense mechanisms to deflect the responsibility of their behavior to others, but the wise among us realize these tricks and know that each is responsible for himself alone. You simply can’t take everything people say or do to heart. I wrote an entire blog entry on this last holiday season called “Don’t Flinch,” and that’s exactly what I remind you to do again. People will certainly, get emotional and have fits of their some variety at some point in the coming weeks. Say no to the drama. Don’t cave into that. As my brother once told me, you don’t have to take other peoples’ problems just because they want you to, and you shouldn’t. Let them keep that crap. Take the higher ground. Stand firm in what you know is right. And Godsake, don’t flinch.
9. Be aware of what’s going on around you. It’s easy to get sucked into our own little world with such long to-do lists this time of year. It’s also dangerous. Diversion and inattentiveness are why so many people get attacked and robbed this time of hear. Be aware of your surrounds and the people around you, and take proper precautions to secure yourself and your stuff. It really isn’t as hard as it seems. Just pay attention.
10. Have fun. I think this is the biggest thing we forget. We keep saying “as soon as I get this done, I’ll relax,” or “as soon as that event/date/get-together is here, I’ll be ok.” Don’t defer your joy. There are things to enjoy in every day, holiday related or not. Find them. Enjoy them. Give thanks for all the blessings you have. And be grateful that we have a fun holiday season in these dark days of approaching winter, because it really gives light to a time of year that would be blah, boring, and depressing otherwise.
That’s all today. I wish all of you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful weekend.