Can you embrace the holiday and end-of-year demands that you face? Of course you can rise to meet those demands; you have for many other years in the past. And yet, rising to them is not the same as embracing them.
Embracing them does not necessarily mean all of them are pleasant – it means full mindful acceptance. Not pushing away, resisting or feeling burdened, nor longing to linger in the fun parts only. For me, that embrace is much trickier.
Here is an approach you can try: Feel into it, check in to prioritize by purpose, and consciously or mindfully make choices.
Feelings: Embracing them all
First notice all of the feelings and emotions you might be experiencing here at the end of the year. Are you feeling happy and jolly? Frustrated, put-upon and stressed? Or perhaps sad or depressed? Or some combination of those?
Be honest about how you feel. Often, it’s not either-or, it’s both-and or all-of-the-above.
I know I’m feeling all of the above. I am happily finishing up some projects and planning new ones. Yet there is so much more to do than usual. Some moments I see my to-do list as insurmountable; at that point if feel overwhelm and sometimes even terror of failing. We did not achieve all we had hoped in the business this year, so I’m a little disappointed about that.
As each element of closing out the year appears, try feeling into it. What emotions are in you at that point? Are some of these emotions echoes of years past? Is your heart in it? Try to acknowledge yourself and greet yourself with kindness and compassion – and those around you who might seem to trigger certain emotions in you.
Purpose: Recognizing why
In addition to emotion, your cognitive mind has a running commentary about what you face at the end of the year too. Again, some of those thoughts might be echoes from the past, others projections into the future.
For this step of the process, see if you can focus on now and purpose. Why is this particular demand here at the end of this year?
For discerning purpose, I like to use the lean thinking Five-Whys approach. Ask why, and when you get the answer, ask why that answer is true. Do it five times. As you ask why the fifth time, you typically have a totally different and much deeper perspective on why something is happening.
At that point, you probably have a good idea how purposeful each demand is for you. Any time you feel overwhelmed or know you can’t do everything being asked of you, you can prioritize by purpose… understanding that some things you don’t enjoy may be required to get other very purposeful outcomes. So embracing end-of-year demands does not mean loving every minute.
Action: Making mindful choices
The final step of the process is to consciously make choices. What will I accomplish here at the end of the year? What am I choosing?
Your emotions are usually the best gauge of whether you will accomplish something easily. Resistance will make any task more challenging. Yet, if something you resist is purposeful, you can still choose to do it. You may also choose the emotional tone you’ll bring as you do it.
As you work on a task, you may well notice that your emotions are not as you had chosen. That’s excellent mindful awareness. Congratulate yourself. Notice that emotion, feel it, and choose to come back to a more centered state over and over again.
You may need to re-frame demands into opportunities. For the most purposeful of your work, that is probably not difficult. However, once you understand the purpose, even some things you don’t enjoy become a sort of privilege to play a part in that larger purpose.
You may also want to add specific end-of-year activities into your daily calendar. Those you might otherwise resist are more likely to get done if you schedule them. If it makes sense, you can schedule short blocks so that if your emotions keep veering off, you have a built-in break.
Wishing you a happy, purposeful, productive and mindful end of the year as you embrace end-of-year demands!