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Part 1 of 6 Living Happier Through the Holidays: Setting Priorities
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Hi there and welcome. You are listening to the stories from “A Quest to Live Happier Podcast.” I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor, and in this podcast, I share my stories and lessons I’ve learned, and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. Show notes can be found at live-happier.com\podcast. This is episode 45, Live Happier Through the Holidays Setting Your Priorities.
Hey, everyone, I’m so excited to be here. For the next five episodes, I’m going to be doing something a little different than I normally do in how these work. I’m going to be consistent on getting podcasts out, which is quite impressive considering how I’ve been rolling the past few months. What I’ve been doing on my website, and you can still go and sign up for this, I have a Live Happier Through the Holidays daily email. I started that the week of Thanksgiving, which I consider to be the first week of the holiday extravaganza. Every day I’ve been sending out a different email about how to set priorities or how to live happier through the holidays. Each week of the next five weeks has a different theme.
What I decided to do was to kind of mesh my podcast with this daily email that’s been happening and give my podcast listeners some of the same information I’m giving these daily emailers. What’s going to happen is every week for the next five weeks I’m going to be putting out a podcast on Fridays that will give you the theme for that week and some tips on how you can live happier through the holidays. This first week is setting priorities. We’re a little behind in the podcast realm of things because I started this, lie I said, the week of Thanksgiving but I’m going to catch up. You may have to double up this week on listening, but it’ll all be good, it’ll all be worth it.
This week we’re going to be talking about setting priorities. The reason I wanted to start with that obviously is because we’re starting out the holidays. A lot of times, even though right now it’s December 2nd and we’re rushing into the holidays, and they’re here before we know it. I want to set some time aside to slow down and ask ourselves a couple of key questions so if you can grab a piece of paper that’s awesome. If you’re in the car, just to make some mental notes of how do you want your holidays to feel. It’s an odd question. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions so if this question doesn’t fit you can move on to the next one, but how do you want this holiday to feel?
Meaning … I had one person call me, and she ‘s like, “I want this holiday to feel magical,” and I know exactly what that means. For each of us, we have a different feeling. I want this holiday to be content, or I want this holiday to be peaceful, I want this holiday to be grounded. I want this holiday to be happy. I want this holiday to be memorable. Whatever, how do you want your holiday to feel is one of the first questions. Once we can figure out how we want it to feel then, we can set our priorities around that feeling. That’s the first question.
The second question I’m going to ask you is what is your absolute no list? This is asking you to get clear on what are the things you are not willing to do? For some people, it’s like, “I don’t want to bake cookies,” or, “I don’t want to go to the large neighborhood party that has 500 people at it.” “I don’t want to make gifts for anybody, or, “I don’t want to buy gifts for people,” or, “I don’t want to go caroling.” I don’t know, whatever it is for you. We all have things that we think we should do and so this is getting to the heart of that. What is your absolute no list and what is your absolute yes list, to that same degree?
That third question is, what is your absolute yes list? What are you willing to do at all costs? What are you wanting to do? Maybe it’s going caroling in your neighborhood or making your famous fudge bars or doing cookie cook out … Cookie cutouts. Sorry, I couldn’t say it. Cookie cutouts with your kids or maybe it is the Christmas tree and decorating that or watching your favorite movies. Whatever that is, what is your absolute yes list?
Then, the last question I’m going to ask you, which is a little harder and I am going to give you … If you go to my website, live-happier.com\podcast, there will be a link to download a worksheet that will help you figure out what are your needs. This is such a hard one for people. What is it you need this holiday season? This is a challenging time. There’s so much expectations and pressure put on us of how we should be feeling and so we’re forced to feel joyful and merry. Instead, we might be sad, we might be missing somewhere, we might be going through a tough time. All of that gets heightened this time of year, which is why one of the weeks of the themes that we’re going to be doing is on grief because grief is a powerful part of the holidays. It comes up very powerfully, and we don’t talk about it as much.
I’m going to ask you, what are your needs? What do you need to make this holiday special? Maybe you need more time. Maybe you need more time with your husband. Maybe you need more family time, or you need more social time. The beauty of the worksheet is that it gives you some examples of needs. I think a lot of times needs become this obtuse I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say you need, I don’t know how to name that. The worksheet has actual specific needs and the names of them. Then it asks you to get clear on what is the priority of this need? If I had to rank it 1-10 where would I land?
A lot of times we’re like, “I absolutely need a break, or I absolutely need more space,” but we don’t, we’re craving social time. To be able to make and bargain out our list of where we’re going to set our priorities we need to be clear on what is the importance of the level of the need. All of that is on that worksheet. Like I said, if you go to live-happier.com\podcast, you can access that worksheet.
Then, the last thing is not a question but it’s really kind of the plan, and that is for you to set a plan. Who do you need to chat with about your priorities for Christmas, for the holidays, for Hanukkah, for Solstice, for whatever it is you celebrate, who do need to chat with about your plan? Do you need to chat with your mother-in-law and figure out how Christmas Eve is going to go down? Do you need to chat with your mother to figure it out, or your father or your brother or your sister-in-law? Who do you need to be chatting with to get it laid out and figured out?
So many times we have all these expectations what the holiday is, but we’re not communicating with each other on what those expectations are. In making that plan, I want you to figure out who you need to sit down with. I bet in your immediate family it needs to be your partner, your husband, your wife, your kids; you need to be including them. If you have grown children are they coming home for the holidays? Are they planning on hanging out with their friends? What are their expectations? Getting some of the stuff hammered out at the beginning of the month can make the rest of the month so much better. We need to figure out these answers because the holidays are coming whether we like it or not. When we bury our heads in the sand, it increases our stress, and I’m all about reducing our stress.
The main way to do that around the holidays is to communicate. When you are clear, and you have answered the questions, how do you want this holiday to feel, you have answered your absolute no list, your absolute yes list, and what are your needs? You can then set your priorities. You can meet with those in your immediate family and figure out, “Okay, what’s our plan going to be? What are our priorities? What’s most important to us? What’s this holiday going to look like?” Then you can branch that out to talking to your mother-in-law, your sister-in-law or whoever it is that you need to be making plans with. Talking to the neighbors, RSVPing to the events. Now you’ll know what the plan is so you can start implementing that, and that can help you reduce your stress.
That is the over arching … Usually, I do a weekly ritual challenge. For these next five things, I’m not going to be doing that as much because the whole podcast is the weekly ritual challenge. I want this whole week you to be sitting down and doing an action plan for your holidays. Getting clear on what it is you want your holidays to look like and how they’re going to come alive for you in a way that fits what you feel, what you need, what’s most important to you.
Okay, so that’s the end of week one, Setting Your Priorities. Like I said, we’re going to double up this week, and I’m going to do two this week. The next one I’m going to be doing is Living Happier Through the Holidays, Managing Your Energy, and Setting Boundaries. It’s a good one so hop on over and check out episode 46 after this one. Then, next week I will be re-reducing episode 48 where we’re going to be talking about joy. Like I said, every Friday look here throughout the month of December to get your tips for Living Happier Through the Holidays.
That’s the show. If you have any questions, please email me, email@example.com, I love hearing from you. Until next time here’s to living happier.
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