Stress, Expectations, and the Holidays: 3 Things to Do Now

It doesn’t matter what age you are – if you are a woman reading this, chances are you experience excitement and dread when you hear the words “holiday season”. No denying- November is here, and it seems that the perfect Pinterest holiday onslaught has begun.

Don’t get me wrong- I love Pinterest but the truth is there are very few Pinterest lives happening out there, just the expectation of one. Pinterest isn’t the culprit. It thrills our creative spirit, educates us, and is full of eye candy with perfectly plated Christmas tables, rooms full of wonderfully decorated trees, beautiful entrance ways, and of course, perfect outfits for the perfect New Year’s Eve date.

Pinterest simply creates a possibility then we apply the pressure. We start the expectation cycle. The expectation cycle begins in our early years and grows out of our passions and joy, but gets disfigured along the way. The passion and joy fade as we replace ‘I want to do this’ with ‘I should do this’ and add in ‘if I don’t do this, I have somehow failed’. Activities or traditions that started off with purpose end up becoming obligations that steal the very things they used to create.

Expectations, both real and self-imposed, can make or break your enjoyment of these next two months. For instance, you spend three days getting everything perfectly Pinteresty for Thanksgiving and the dining room looks fabulous! You call everyone to dinner and the men ask for TV trays to watch the game…. Your mother says the potatoes are lumpy…. And your aunt pulls a chair up to the table for her precious poodle to sit in.

Oh… to be able to find grace and joy in the midst of the gunk of being human and having no control over anything but your own choices!

GOOD NEWS!  Refining your expectations of yourself and of these next two months will allow you to make some space so that calm and laughter and celebration in its truest forms take place instead of falling into the yearly cycle of do’s and do more’s.

This holiday season can be different…. You can make conscious choices about what your expectations will be. You don’t have to get caught up in the rush, and fall from one activity to the next or be a victim of your own schedule.

How do you change this season? It starts with being intentional about what you want and what your priorities are, and create clarity about what expectations you have for yourself and for others.

The following three things will allow you to build self awareness around your holiday activities and use that famous choosing-self to make this holiday season different! Here’s also where the horse part comes in.

If you live in or around Lexington, Kentucky, I’ll make it easy for you if you want to do something fun and different that will impact your holiday season. (If you don’t live in Kentucky, I’m sorry- Skip to number 2 and read on!!).

1.) SIGN UP!!

Come play in the barn on November 15th from 1-4. The barn is located at Central Kentucky Riding for Hope and you will meet some incredible horse friends and some other women looking for the joy of the season for themselves. NO RIDING involved, just large furry, four legged friends that will help us reconnect with the heart of what you want the season to be, clarify those expectations, and make a plan to address any obstacles that may be apparent.   We will have a small group, spend time being intentional, learn how to develop skill around discovering what is important, negotiate expectation cycles, and make a non-perfect plan for how to enjoy these next two months. Give yourself a great gift and sign-up here today. Enrollment is very limited. Cost is $100.00.

2.) If you can’t come to the workshop- schedule a date with yourself before November 15.

Take paper and pen and list your priorities for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays. Look at the excitement and the dread you feel around this time of year.

  • Where do they come into play?
  • What is important to you?
  • How do you want to spend your time?
  • Who do you want to spend your time with?
  • What are the big and little things that make the season special for you?

Make conscious choices about what brings you joy, what makes you feel loved, and involved. Practice saying no to things that drain you.

3.) Create something that will remind you of your purpose and your priorities for the next two months.

Be creative. Keep whatever you create (even a simple post-it note) in front of you as a reminder when those hard invites come in and learn to say “yes” or “no” with grace and without guilt. Then reserve the right to change your mind (as long as you respect others you have made plans with). Which brings us to this caveat– We do not live in a vacuum and we are all involved in relationships, so when you list your priorities decide how to honor relationships in new ways if you choose to have a different kind of holiday this year.

Some years it feels right to do things the way it has always been done or continue in roles that feel so comfortable. Comfortable is good, as long as we have made the choice to stay there because we love how we do the holidays, not because we are afraid to try something different or to set new priorities as you seek grace and joy instead of drain and unmet expectation.

Wishing you a choosing-self holiday season filled with things that bring you joy, purpose, and intentional connection.