As Christmas and the New Year draw near, it’s a great time to choose your approach for the silly season. You don’t have to sit back and wait for things to happen to you – you can front-foot the challenges and opportunities of the festive season, to make it your best one yet.
In this article, I’m going to cover how you can choose your approach:
- To luck
- Through intentions
- Based on your values
- For managing emotions
- Using your strengths
Choose your approach to luck
I recently wrote an article about how you can create more luck in your life. It think it’s a really important message for all of us – especially given that many people have been through a tough couple of years.
Now, I’m not saying that you’ll never face “bad luck” or that bad things will never happen. But you can literally rewire your brain to make you more likely to spot and make the most of lucky opportunities.
So why not choose to become luckier this festive season?
Choose your approach through intention-setting
When we approach a situation without a clear idea of how we want to show up, and the results we want, we have to make many decisions on the fly. That can feel exhausting, and can reduce our enjoyment of what is supposed to be a festive celebration.
By setting our intentions beforehand, we instantly eliminate a whole lot of decisions. For example, if you know that a family gathering can get tense because a particular person gets on their soapbox, you can set your intention before the gathering about how you’ll respond. Perhaps you’ll smile and excuse yourself to refresh your drink. Or if you always overindulge on dessert, you could decide to grab a teaspoon instead of a dessert spoon, to help you slow down and savour the sweet treats.
Choose your approach based on your values
Getting clear on your values is one of the best things you can do for your personal wellbeing. Take some time before the silly season starts to list out your top 3-5 values, and think about how you can use them to guide your decisions, words, and actions.
There are many lists of values available online or in books. One list I really like is in Brené Brown’s book ‘Dare to Lead’ (on page 188) – it lists 117 common values.
To get to your top 3-5 values, go through lists of values, and pull out all that are meaningful to you. Then look for the ones that resonate the most – often these are “master” values which speak to others in your list. For example, generosity might also include values such as charity, giving back, sharing, and service. If you’re stuck and can’t whittle you list down, try ranking them in order of importance. This will force trade-offs, and most people usually identify their top handful pretty quickly using this method.
Now that you’ve got your top few values, think about the situations you’re likely to encounter over the festive season. Who will you spend time with? What activities will you be doing? What expectations do you and others have? Now, consider how you can act, speak, and think in alignment with your values. This might require some brave conversations, but the benefits that come from living your values far outweigh the temporary discomfort of making your choices clear.
Choose your approach to managing emotions
If there’s ever a time of year when collective emotion runs high, this is it! You can choose to hone and use your emotional intelligence to smooth the waters for yourself and others.
There are many ways to understand and manage your emotions – and all of them can be learned!
It starts with being able to identify emotions in yourself and others. For this, I recommend:
- The Emotional Culture Deck – a fun individual or interactive card game to sort through and talk about emotions. I’m a certified ‘Elephant Rider’ so can coach you, your team, or your family on how to use the deck, or you can use the included instructions and modify them to suit your situation [disclosure: if you purchase a deck through the ECD links on this page, I will earn a small commission]
- Mood tracking apps: I’ve used and recommend Mood Patterns (a free app on Android only, offers random sampling throughout the day, and data analysis) and Mood Meter (a paid app available on Android and Apple, great for expanding your emotional vocabulary) [no commission applies to any app link]
- Using emotion wheels to understand emotions better and build your emotional intelligence
I’ve also created a list of every single emotion word I can find – if you know of an emotion that isn’t on the list, get in touch via my contact page, or email me directly, and I’ll add them to the list.
The more familiar you become with your own emotions, the easier it will be to spot emotions in others – so keep practising!
Responding to emotions
Once you spot an emotion in others, you need to know how to respond effectively to it. If it’s someone you know quite well, you probably already have good instincts about how to respond in a way that supports positive emotions, or won’t escalate difficult emotions.
If you don’t know the person well, the Golden Rule can be quite useful (although is not guaranteed success). Think about what you might want in that situation, and start to gently apply that approach. If you get a negative reaction, stop and regroup – what other approaches could you try?
And for your own emotions, think about what you need and what will help you behave and feel the way you want to. If you’re down, you might want a listening ear, or to spend some time alone writing in your journal. If you’re feeling great, you might want to share it with the world, or you might take a moment to savour the feeling in silence. There is no “right” approach to responding to emotions – the only caveat is that we can’t selectively numb an emotion. If we try to suppress one, we suppress them all. I highly recommend Susan David‘s work on Emotional Agility (why not ask someone to buy you the book for Christmas?!)
Choose your approach using your strengths
Strengths are like superpowers for facing challenging or uncomfortable situations. Think about your strengths and how you can use them throughout the silly season to support your wellbeing and help others enjoy themselves too.
In the lead-up to Christmas one year, I published an article with 75 ways to use your strengths during the festive season, to make it great for you and those around you. Check out the ideas, and let me know what other ideas you have – send me a message via my contact page, or email me directly, and I’ll add them to the list.
Any discussion of personal strengths would be incomplete without me letting you know about The Strengths Deck.
I created it to put the power of strengths in your hands. If you want to learn about your unique strengths fingerprint and how to make the most of your amazing strengths, click the logo to find out more, or make a booking for your free, 30-minute call to talk about how we can get your strengths working for you.
Choose to look after yourself
No human was built to do everything for everyone without stopping. You were built to need, and enjoy, downtime, so this silly season, give yourself the gift of self-care, relaxation, play, and rest.
I’ve written a few articles that touch on different aspects of looking after yourself – I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!