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Keeping Balance & Perspective during the Holidays

Family life today is much different than it was 25 years ago. Back in the ‘good old days’, families often lived within walking distance of each other, and it never occurred to them to leave their home town. People remained in the same jobs their entire career, most women did not work outside the home, children did not have formal social lives, and it was tradition that the whole family gathered at the grandparents’ house for every holiday. Life was simple.

Today we are a vastly changed society. Most families are not within close flying distance, much less close driving distance, and there are those who don’t even reside in the same country. We now have extended families, shared families, multi-generational families and the ever-growing sandwich generation which is struggling to simultaneously raise children and care for aging parents. People don’t stay in their home towns or at the same job their whole lives. Today many even venture out to start their own businesses and instantly become leaders and managers of others with little to no experience or training to stage them for success. More and more women now work outside the home or have cottage industries within their homes. There is more business travel, vacation travel, and social obligations for ourselves and our children. Then there are the usual family emergencies, health issues, etc.….the list goes on and on. Life is enough of a balancing act on any given day and then… they come… The Holidays!

As I have been thinking about the holidays fast approaching and considering my family’s diverse schedule, I remembered a story that I came across long ago and a notion occurred to me… maybe this year, we need to develop a Strategic Family Plan to get us through the Holiday season. Not a lengthy bureaucratic binder filled with pretty graphics, but real clarity on what is important and how we will achieve it for ourselves in the coming month.

With that in mind, here are some things to think about for your Strategic Family Plan:

· Make a list of the most important things you want to do during the holiday season and mark off time in your calendar to do them. These become your goals. Whether it is taking a vacation, trimming a Christmas tree, attending a religious service, or just finding the space to connect with old friends, schedule them like you do other important events such as work meetings.

· Arrange your work schedule and work load around these dates and times. Remember, these are your goals for the coming month. They take precedence over other clutter that might try to fill your time.

· Put your goals in order of importance so you can make decisions if tradeoffs are necessary. What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve a more important goal? For instance, let’s say you want to go away on vacation; will you be okay with not having a Christmas tree?

· Take time to relax and enjoy the Holiday Season for what you want it to be and remember…….

“All of the animals except man know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.”

Samuel Butler

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