Tuesday, December 19, 2020

Last Minute Holiday Gifts . . . to Yourself

In all the hype and rabid consumerism of this time of year, you should take a few moments to think about the best gifts you could give to yourself and your career. Today and tomorrow, I’ll offer some ideas.

Don’t expect these gifts to be free. They all carry some cost, usually in terms of effort and determination. But, like all the best presents, the benefits they will bring far outweigh whatever may they cost you to obtain.

What today’s four suggestions have in common is that they offer immediate benefits. As soon as you give them, the benefit begins; and it will last for many years ahead—perhaps for the rest of your life. And, since this is the “Slow Leadership” site, each of these presents is also something that you could consider giving to those who work for you. What benefits you is equally likely to be of benefit to others.

1. Time Off
My first suggestion is to use this holiday season to grant yourself the priceless gift of time away from busyness and constant activity. Don’t treat the holiday as yet another opportunity to spend all your waking hours in frantic activity: rushing from place to place, group to group, driving or flying hundreds of miles in an obsessive attempt to do everything in the shortest possible time, hurling yourself into the post-Christmas sales the moment your turkey has settled in your stomach.

Slow down. Relax. Spend some of your time in reflection and introspection. Allow your body and mind the time they need to recover and refresh themselves. Allow your friends and family time with you. Not with any special purpose in mind, but simply time to hang out and enjoy life and whatever comes along. Take time to read something new and challenging. Exercise your mind on something more pleasant than monthly profits and cost reductions.

Most of all, give yourself the time to do nothing at all. Forget striving and getting. Forget about work. It will still be there when you have to go back. Until then, let it all go.

2. Space
My second suggestion is to give yourself space to grow and develop. Don’t hem in your life and career with too many expectations, too much advice, or too many obligations. It’s very easy to load up on all kinds of set demands. They may be fine individually, but taken together they can leave you no elbow room or flexibility to adapt to life’s changes.

When people deny themselves the space to respond to whatever life brings them, they force themselves into narrow confines that cramp their development. Just like the ancient Chinese practice of forcing women's feet into tiny shoes, the result is a distorted, misshapen, stunted, and deformed kind of growth.

Let go. Open yourself to a fresh range of possibilities. Allow yourself to spend this holiday season exploring new ways to live and work. Go window shopping for new ideas. You never know what bargains you may find.

3. Forgiveness
This is probably one of the best gifts of all, for you and everyone else. Cut yourself (and those around you) some slack. Step aside from all the deficit thinking and concentration on “gaps,” weaknesses, and self-criticism that disfigure conventional thinking on work and life.

Acknowledge what you do well, and allow yourself to enjoy your achievements. Sure you screwed up sometimes. So did everyone else. Stop beating yourself up for being fallible. Stop focusing on what’s wrong with the world and the people in it. Let go of the guilt and nit-picking.

Kindness and mercy are two human characteristics we need most at this time. Perhaps you could start with giving both to yourself? After all, if you can’t forgive yourself, how will you ever manage to forgive anyone else?

4. Indulgence
The holiday season is all about indulgence. But the kind that I have in mind as a present to yourself isn’t what people usually have in mind: indulgence in over-spending, over-eating, over-drinking, and going overboard in spending even more hours in front of that new, flat-screen TV you’ve just mortgaged your future to buy.

I think your gift to yourself should be some indulgence in irrational optimism, in enjoying the thought of how things could well work out just fine in the future. Stress, overwork, anxiety, and pressure all produce depressive thoughts. The future, like the present, is painted in the blackest of tones. Everything looks grim and miserable.

So sit back, ignore the doomsters and nay-sayers, and indulge yourself in some happy thoughts. Have fun. Enjoy life for a few days. It’s the only one you get, so why make it a burden? So some people will accuse you of being unrealistic. Big deal! Let them have their fun being miserable. You take yours in a different way. Remember Scrooge. He wasn’t just a miser, he was a miserable old fart too. It took three ghosts to cheer him up. I’ll bet you can do it on your own.

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Pete ALdin said...

Amen. May we all not just read this but do it.

5:45 PM  
Carmine Coyote said...

I echo your comment, Pete. Thanks for making it.

Keep reading, my friend.

7:13 PM  

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