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The Secret to Stress-Free Holidays

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The holidays are in full swing now. I’m thrilled to be able to show you a method that goes far beyond taking the stress out of the holidays. It’s a fundamental tool that I know, from seeing the transformations in my clients, will help you live your best life.

Today I’ll teach you the three-step process to creating your dream holiday. First you’ll look at your past experiences. Second you’ll look at how you want your future experiences to be different. Finally, you’ll develop strategies to get you from the stressful experiences of the past to the stress-free, joyful experiences you want your holidays to be.

Before you start go to my Web site. Scroll down the page for free downloads of Holiday Stress and Strategies Worksheets. Got ’em? Now you’re ready to roll!

Steps 1 and 2: The Holiday Stress Worksheet
What’s stressing you? How do you want it to be different?

First: Remember what stressed you out during other holidays or what’s stressing you now. Write down five instances.
 
Second: Envision your dream holidays. How do you want this year to be different? Don’t be practical. Don’t judge your dreams. And don’t feel pressure for the dreams to be grand. It could simply be that this year you don’t get upset by the way Uncle Joe treats you.

Here are some examples:

Meg’s Stress: One of my clients Meg, struggled every year because her oven wasn’t big enough. She and her husband didn’t want a bigger oven; they had an energy-efficient oven that worked the rest of the year, but at the holidays, she called it a nightmare, trying to bake the side dishes and the turkey so that it’d all be timed right. She said she actually burnt herself the last couple years. Trying to juggle all the dishes made it even harder for her to find the time to get herself ready for the meal.

Meg’s Dream: The cooking and baking will go smoothly—no injuries. All the food will be done at the same time. Meg will have enough time, at least forty-five minutes, to shower and get dressed for the festivities.
Bob’s Stress: Another client, Bob, found he and his wife went into debt every year at the holidays. They both had big families and everyone on both sides gave everyone presents. “Although there is financial pressure,” he said, “I look at it as one time of year to give to my family.”

Bob’s Dream: Bob and his wife will not go into debt. Bob will also feel he has shown everyone how much he loves them by giving them presents.

Step 3: The Holiday Strategies Worksheet

At the heart of coaching is the belief that the answer to any challenge is inside of you. Sometimes it just takes a coach or a friend to help you find it. As a coach, I help my clients connect to the voice inside that knows—without fear or hesitation.
 
Here’s what Meg and Bob did:

Meg’s Strategy: Meg bought a roasting oven for the turkey. There was plenty of room left in her oven for the side dishes. She also worked it out with her husband so that he would keep and eye on the cooking and the kids while she spent forty-five minutes getting ready.

Bob’s Strategy: Bob and his wife set up a strict budget for holiday spending that would keep them out of debt. To stay within budget, they looked for sales all year long (beginning with the after-holiday sales). Bob even got the kids involved and had them keep their eyes open for gifts for the cousins. And it worked! They didn’t go into debt and no one noticed a difference between their “sale” gifts and the full-priced gifts of the past.

What strategies will you use to bridge the gaps and change your stressful holidays? Take a deep breath and access that part of you that knows. Then write the strategies on your worksheet. If you get stuck, leave your worksheets and do something else. The answer will come when you least expect it.

The overall goal today, is for you to reduce your holiday stress. But remember, you can apply this three-step process to any challenge in your life.

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