Minus those Arctic blasts that cut right through the ten pound snowsuits on the kids -- I love this time of year. However, sometimes it can get so overwhelming that it's easy to forget about what's important.
Then something amazing happens...hear it..."Ooooo, Fah who foraze, dah who doraze...." You get a Christmas card from a long-time friend asking how you are. You receive an email from a client thanking for all of the hard work you've done for them. Or, your kids come home from school with card or craft they made just for you. The holiday spirit springs back in full-force.
These seemingly small gestures of thoughtfulness just made you feel valued and appreciated.
If you're frenzied, unsettled, chaotic or hectic at this time of year, here are four simple ways that you can train your brain to be more thoughtful this holiday season.
1. Make time for important relationships.
Traveling. Holiday parties. Visiting with your family. Playing Santa. Oh yes, your actual job. You have a full-plate during the holidays. But, this is the most important time of the year to express care for the important relationships in your life.
You don't want your spouse, children, employees, or business partners feeling like -- on your full-plate this year -- they're the plate of left-overs. Are you neglecting these associations, during the most wonderful time of the year?
One way to do show their value to you is by making them a priority. Let's say that an acquaintance has invited you to their holiday party on the same weekend that your best friend is hosting their annual shindig. You can attend both, but how about devoting your full attention to one of them this year? Politely decline the one invite and let them know that you already have plans -- which is to go to your best friend's holiday bash. You can scale back on most holiday parties and just stay home with your spouse and kids.
Another way to do this is to frequently check-in with your most important peeps. This could be sending your wife a text while taking a break from work, emailing a client during your lunch break, or asking a friend or colleague to join you on a shopping trip.
To make sure that you stick to this plan, I suggest that you schedule these times into your calendar -- so that it becomes a commitment. Something on the books is something you'll do. If it's not calendared, it's all talk.
2. Keep track of meaningful or important notes people mention.
Science shows when we record something down by hand, a.k.a. taking pen to paper, you are more likely to remember it. There are so many opportunities to identify what people need.
When we were building Calendar my co-founder was extremely diligent about features that record and transcribe conversations. The reason? So that important information is documented so you can go back and read what's meaningful. This way details stick in your memory. Many times you run into something that could be valuable, but you aren't sure of the exact details. By documenting these relevant items or thoughts, you can go back to your notes to make sure that you have your info straight.
3. Make a list of the important connections you want to interact with.
Identify early-on the people you want to keep an eye out for because you never know what opportunities might develop.
For example, Sarah is a reliable and talented web designer and she's an important relationship for you. Another friend could use a web designer and Sarah is top of mind. Why? Because you took the time and determined she would be in your "important connection list." Immediately, you'll think to say, "Hey you should meet my friend Sarah who's a great designer."
It's been proven that people are a little more emotional these times in the year. When you do even simple things that are helpful, whether that's an intro or just simply sharing their content and messaging them, it's a great way to add some feeling and thoughtfulness.
4. Be generous.
When you think of generosity, you may associate with money, such as donating to a local non-profit or buying your amazing team standing desks to boost their productivity. But, there are so many small and meaningful ways to show your generosity on a daily basis during the holidays.
Buy the person in line behind you their coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Get a delicious holiday treat for someone and drop it off. Ask a stranger how their day is going or compliment a service employee on how well they're crushing it at work.
Volunteer somewhere, donate items you no longer use in your home. Pass along a piece of content that could help a client with their business. One of my personal favorites is hooking-up those you people who make your day run much smoother. For example, you could give gift cards, or some hard cold cash, to the people who deliver your mail, pick-up your garbage, or brew your morning cup of java. Canada has made a whole day of celebration for giving to those service persons who make your life easier - it's called "Boxing Day." A wonderful tradition of which we could all take notice.
It takes very little effort or time out of you're already packed schedule to be thoughtful. Showing those around us that you recognize how they've impacted your life and that you're grateful for having them by your side can have results that you may not even know. You're putting a smile on their faces which they could use during the holidays and it's also good for your health. Being thoughtful makes us all happier and less stressful.
Many thank you's to all of you for reading this piece. I'm sending my hope to you for a healthy and happy holiday season and a successful new year.