Regardless of your religion or culture, in the United States—and much of the world—the holiday season between November and the end of the calendar year is one of high activity, high potential profits, and high stress for any business person, even if your business isn’t retail. Add to that our recent contentious U.S. presidential election and the uncertainties that come with any change of administration, and you’ve got a potent cocktail for anxiety.
If your business is dependent on the holiday season for success you should already have buckled your seatbelt in anticipation of a wild ride. The National Retail Federation reports up to 30% of annual revenue can come from holiday sales, with jewelry stores reporting the highest percentage. When the economy is strong and sales are robust, this can be a heady time, but too often stress and worry can put a serious damper not only on your holiday mood but your health.
Stop, breathe, and take control of your life and your business!
Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the frantic swirl of the season, but if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re smart and savvy. Trust your instincts and plan now to avoid the pitfalls ahead. Not only will you help yourself, but you’ll be a beacon of calm for everyone looking to you as their leader.
Here are a few suggestions for making the best of the weeks ahead and setting an example of balance and vision:
- Play the long game. It may be important to keep your foot on the gas pedal during this time of year, but try not to imbue it with “life-or-death” importance for your business. Remember there is next year and the year after that.
- Take care of yourself physically. Practice deep breathing or even meditation. Be vigilant about getting enough sleep. Move your body as much as possible. Make healthy food and beverage choices when you go to those holiday parties.
- Connect with friends and family. It’s tempting to shut down and crawl into a proverbial hole to handle your stress, but phoning a friend, taking a couple of hours to do something outside with your children, or going to the movies with your spouse can be enormously therapeutic.
- Laugh and smile as much as possible. Laughter unleashes those stress-smashing endorphins, and oddly, our bodies can’t tell the difference between a real laugh and a fake laugh. Researchers say that even on the telephone, when you’re smiling, your tone and conversation convey much more warmth and sincerity.
- Be realistic about what you can do and take some things off your plate if you can. Instead of Christmas cards to your clients, for instance, New Year’s cards will be equally appreciated. Instead of an office Christmas party, perhaps a mid-winter party would make more sense and spread out the expenses a bit more. Take a good look at all your holiday “traditions” and decide if they can be eliminated or modified.
- Take charge of cash flow, in both your business and your household. I’m amazed at how many people seem to spend recklessly—mostly without thinking or planning—during the holidays and then pay the price when the credit card bills come in January.
- Count your blessings. The practice of gratitude—and that means regularly and specifically counting your blessings—is a powerful antidote to stress and unhappiness. I commend to you writing down those things for which you’re thankful in a gratitude journal. Dating them and revisiting these lists later is a wonderful practice for wholehearted living.
Live your dreams, not your fears!
You know this is my mantra, and it’s not just a platitude. It must be woven into your mindset as well as your actions. This holiday season is the perfect time to consider what it might look like in your personal and professional life. Adopting this philosophy and embedding it into your heart and soul is the most precious gift you can give yourself, your family, or your business.
Wishing each of you a holiday season and new year filled with light, love, and bounty.