The holiday season is filled with joy and connection. But for parents who are finishing off year end projects at work while meeting all the social obligations of the season, life can get overwhelming.
As a new year begins you might be particularly attuned to the adage the days are long but the years are short. Many of the moms I work with worry that they’re going to wake up one day and realize that their kids are grown and they missed out because they were too busy to enjoy this time. This fear of regret leads to a lot of the guilt that parents experience today, as we face the reality that we have more on our plates to manage than past generations.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, let go of the guilt and give yourself the gift of joy for your year ahead. Get started by walking through these three steps:
First, Know What You Value
What matters to you? Is it moments of joy spent at home, climbing the career ladder, feeling connected to your community, or being outdoors with your family? Everyone is different. Your unique values are your guidepost to finding satisfaction in your career and life. Spend some time reflecting on what you value most during this season of parenthood. Write out a list of your top three to five values.
Second, Gain a Clear Vision
What are your priorities for the year ahead? Do your priorities align with your top values? Time management expert Laura Vanderkam suggests a simple exercise to gain clarity for your priorities and it goes like this:
As the end of the year approaches many people are faced with two scenarios that ask us to look backward – the annual performance review and the family holiday letter. As an exercise, rather than looking to the past, take the opportunity to look forward. Imagine you’re at the end of next year, and it has been a great year for you and those you care about. You’re getting your next performance review and sitting down to write your family holiday letter. What did you do professionally and in your personal life to make it such a great year? Write it down. These are your goals for the year ahead.
Third, Manage Your Choices and Actions
Now that you know what you value most and you have a clear vision for your career and family priorities, you can make space for the things that matter. How you spend your time is a choice. Schedule your priorities first, before making other commitments.
One of the best ways to do this is to plan your time. Schedule your months, weeks, and days before you’re in them. When planning your time, use two categories: career and life. In the career category, include priorities related to job, volunteering, network, learning, and hobbies. In the life category, include priorities related to home, relationships, and self. For each category, set no more than three priorities that align with your values and yearly goals. You’ll accomplish more with fewer priorities.
There is time for the things that bring you joy. I wholeheartedly believe that when you start with what you value, you will make space in these long days and short years for what matters most.