We’re all familiar with the old American proverb, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” but what happens when Jack runs into a season where the expectation is to fully live into both work and play? As you have probably already heard on the radio or in your preferred store of choice, we are entering the “hap-happiest season of all,” and yet for many people, this is a season that’s marked with profound stress. Part of that stress is because the holiday season pushes us to our emotional and mental redline. For many of us, everything dials up around the holidays, which includes work and family functions. It is an all-work all-play season, and it can be both exhausting and stressful.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. No, we probably shouldn’t try to get out of some things—insert your must-go-to family function or work project here—but we can make adjustments that minimize the stress we experience. We may even be able to wrap this year in a way that sets us up well to launch into the new year with purpose and energy. As you enter the last few weeks of 2021, here are two leadership tips that might help you get the most out of this season for yourself, your family, and your team.
Leadership Tip 1: Give Yourself a Gift
Good leaders tend to pour themselves out for everyone: family, friends, team, and community. This often has them doing things, not because they get energy from an activity, but because it is good for others. As we move into the holiday season, try to carve out some time to do things that you really enjoy and are nourishing to you. In other words, give yourself the gift of true play. Try to disconnect from the rat race by taking time out to enjoy a hobby, connect with a friend, or watch that classic holiday movie that oozes nostalgia and makes you feel warm inside. When you’re out of the office, consider turning off your phone and setting up that out of office response on your emails, so you can switch your focus to yourself and your loved ones. When it comes to family get-togethers, set healthy boundaries. Remember that saying no to a loved one doesn’t necessarily mean “bah-humbug.” Prioritize your emotional wellness because you are your most essential leadership asset.
Leadership Tip 2: Prioritize What is Truly Most Important
It’s been said that good leadership is not about getting everything done but making sure that the right things get done. Practicing this is especially important during the holidays. An example of Ethos trying to live into this practice is that this article will be our last leadership article sent and posted in 2021. We’re intentionally downshifting on this service to give our creative output a break, think strategically about moves we need to make in 2022, and quite honestly, just to open time to be more present with our family and close friends. For us, taking a break to rest, think, and savor relationships are the “right things” that we’re trying to pursue during this season. What do you want to make time for, and what can you do as a leader to open time and create clarity around the most important things for your team as you close out another year?
Reflect and Act: Take 5 minutes to identify a few “gifts” you can give yourself (e.g., lunch with a friend, your favorite holiday movie, etc.). Pick at least one to enjoy every week for the next 5 weeks.