How many times have the weeks after Thanksgiving been a total blur and you realize you didn’t do anything productive the entire month of December? With all the holiday events and parties, family dinners and get togethers plus the extra days off work… it’s easy to not really take December seriously. There is a reason why “New Year’s resolutions” are so popular, right?
I’m not under the false pretense that everyone needs to be a hyper-productive work horse 365 days a year, nor would I ever suggest that. I find that there are very few people who can actually produce quality work when they don’t take any time off so I fully support finding what works for you the individual to unplug and recharge. That might mean not opening your laptop for an entire day, or going on a vacation physically removed from your home for a weekend or even just spending an afternoon or night out with friends.
But the mindset that I don’t support is “oh, well it’s the holidays so I’ll just let it slide and… I’ll just start fresh next year.”
This mindset creates a cascade effect in every aspect of your life.
You forget to meal prep and go out to eat more often.
You skip the gym and go to happy hour instead.
You coast at work and trade productive, self-development for trash entertainment.
Basically, you become the less healthy, productive and focused version of yourself.
If you’ve listened or read our content before you know that we absolutely support enjoying yourself and your life to the fullest. We talk about this at length with our clients, on our podcasts and in our articles, too. But the distinguishing factor is that when we discuss going out to eat, or taking a day off the gym or enjoying happy hour, it’s not in an all or nothing context. Having an all or nothing, dichotomous view of things is the slippery slope we try to avoid.
This view lends “I’m going to grab some drinks on Friday” to… “Well, because I grabbed drinks on Friday, I also didn’t work out for three days, barely drank any water and ate like shit.” See the difference? The problem isn’t happy hour, or the dessert tray at a holiday party or even a day off the gym. It’s 18 drinks and poor choices for a weekend, or the entire dessert tray or 2 weeks off the gym.
So, what’s the best way to handle this time of year?
First, set yourself up for success. We all have certain habits and behaviors that keep us grounded. I like to think of these as non-negotiables for your day or your week. A few examples could include: Drinking a certain amount of water, prepping a handful of meals for the week, keeping a consistent morning routine, training a certain number of day per week or reading a self-development book.
Nothing ground breaking here, just simple habits that keep you healthy and productive. And that’s what’s funny about these simple habits; they actually have a huge impact on us whether we realize it or not. Ever have a week where you don’t meal prep, barely get to the gym and say screw your morning routine? I can bet it wasn’t your best week. Not because of any large scale changes, but because a few small (but key) habits fell out of place.
Second, be realistic… but don’t be soft. The holidays invariably are much busier for everyone for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. So yes, give yourself some grace. Maybe you don’t make a huge business breakthrough or smash a training PR or have your most productive month yet. But giving yourself some grace also doesn’t give you a pass to be a total mess, either.
Third, don’t let a dichotomous mindset take over how you view food and/or alcohol. I always say that extremes are easier, because they without a doubt 100x easier mentally. Eating or drinking whatever you want without restraint or saying no to everything is doesn’t require much effort. What does require effort is enjoying either or both in moderation; and that’s where most people struggle.
We work on this mindset year round with our clients because it’s what allows them to be successful no matter situation they’re in. It’s slow, boring and tedious work but without working on this balanced mindset, you’ll always find yourself going from 0-60 or setting one more (overly rigid, destined to fail) New Year’s resolution.
Disclaimer: We’re not against New Year’s resolutions and fully support ones that are realistic and helpful for your future self, not ones that just satisfy your immediate struggles.
If you’re looking for help to navigate the holidays or set yourself up for success in the new year, we’re never too busy to help. Click here to apply for coaching today!