Why You Shouldn’t Work During the Holidays (and What You Should Do Instead)

Christmas tree illustration on golden backgroundWhat are your plans for the holidays?

If you’re anything like me, you’re looking forward to time with family, and the chance to have a well-earned rest.

But might you also be figuring that now would be a great time to catch up on your email backlog? Or to clear the admin you’ve de-prioritized ahead of doing essential year-end stuff (not to mention turning up at office parties?)

If so, I have a bit of advice:


For a start, the upcoming weeks hold about the only remaining days of the year when, whether you work for the man, or work for yourself, the majority of people’s attention is elsewhere. Meaning that you really can afford to have some guilt-free off time.

Moreover, the time of year, and the turning of the season is energetically aligned to reflections and renewal.

So use it.

And take advantage of this time to get into great shape for 2014. Here are a few ideas of how to:

  1. Step back and do a stock-take about what’s working for you at work – and what’s not. If you haven’t already, grab a copy of The 7 Most Soul-Sucking Career Mistakes Ever, check out which ones you may still be making, and make a plan for yourself to put them right in 2014.
  2. Focus on your well-being. Yeah, I know, most of us eat and drink ourselves silly during the holidays, so I’m not advocating dieting or anything. But you can use the holidays to hang out a little, rest, and think about a small number of health-supporting habits you might want to put in place for yourself come January. Even to begin to practice some of them now.
  3. Use the season to practice mindfulness. As much as we look forward to the holidays, they can be stressful for many people. We forget that they are just days of the year like other days and overlay them with all kind of importance that they may or may not have. Then, extended family and social gatherings can hold their challenges. Instead of just giving yourself another forms of stress, albeit away from the office, why not use the context of the season to practice mindfulness. Leo Babuta’s post on this is well worth a read here.
  4. Forget about New Years’ resolutions. So many of us go along with the ritual of setting resolutions for ourselves on the 1st of January. You know the kind of thing: “Make x amount of dollars this year”; or “lose 2olbs”; or “get 1,000 people to sign up for my list”. Not that there’s anything wrong with having goals. But too often we set them imagining that we *need* them, and that, when we’ve achieved them, then we’ll be happy. So long as we’ve pitched our happiness to the achievement of something outside ourselves, we’ve set ourselves up for failure. Instead, percolate and choose a theme for yourself for 2014. What feels like a natural thing for you to point yourself to this year? My theme this year was “Turn Up”. 2014′s theme is “Manifest”. What’s yours?
  5. Decide that you’ll experience less overwhelm in 2014. I know that you can’t stop the amount of stuff that comes at you at work, and will start coming at you again when you get back to work in the New Year, but you can change how it affects you. Catch my post on the secret to stress free work, and adopt a fresh mindset before you head back after the break.
  6. Read. Use the time off to get one or two titles of books that take your skills and knowledge in a different direction. I’ve got Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook on my wishlist. Also, Jeremy Donovan’s How to Deliver a TED Talk. They support my “Manifest” theme. But to help with my desire to just hang out, I’m hoping to find John Williams’ Stoner in my Christmas stocking too. Just reading inspiring stuff, whether fiction or not, gives the opportunity for insight and fresh energy for the new year ahead.

As for me, I’m going to be taking my own advice and putting down tools over the holidays.

You might find me from time to time on Twitter or Facebook, but otherwise I’m closing the shop here till mid January now. I’ve got all kinds of goodies planned for the coming months, which you won’t want to miss, so make sure you’re subscribed for updates.

Meantime, I wish you and yours the very best of the season and that 2014 will be a good year for you.

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  1. Rachael 'Honest' Blair says:

    I love this post. I have just gone back online after my first proper break from work for a long time and I agree with everything here – especially no resolutions and experiencing less overwhelm! This year I’m just going to be kinder to myself. I do like ‘Turn up’ too. I’m going to try and show up (all of me that is) this year more but as I said in my recent post – no promises, no resolutions. Because pressure isn’t kind and I’,m sure I’ll still achieve anyway. Hope your year has got off to a good start!
    Rachael ‘Honest’ Blair´s last blog post ..No promises, no resolutions

    • Christine says:

      Hi Rachael. Hope you’re well and that your first week or so back has been good. Although I’ve posted a few things to Twitter and Facebook in the last wee while, I’ve been on holiday for the longest time. So, my year has got off to a very good start. It’s so refreshing to just step away from work; even if it’s what we love it’s never all of us, right?

      You’re right about the pressure resolutions and promises put on us. They just totally set us up to feel bad about ourselves and who gains from that? Certainly not us!

      Hope 2014 is going to be a wonderful year for you!

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