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‘Tis the season of joy, so why the panic?

Finally, the store windows of the past three months seem relevant. December is here. And with it comes an already endless list of preparations and demands: parties to go to, presents to buy, donations to drop off, holiday concerts to attend, costumes to find, volunteering to schedule, decorating to do … how very lucky I am. It's the season of joy, peace and goodwill.

Then why do I begin each day in semi-panic, desperate to ensure all my plates are still spinning? Worried I've not got things where they're meant to be or that I've forgotten a commitment or a deadline. Hoping nothing slips through the cracks.

Recently I delivered a presentation on work-life balance. I demonstrated a project management tool called ‘the wheel', useful in trying to juggle that balance by acknowledging and monitoring the many facets of this thing we call life.

December is starting to feel like a major ‘project' for me, so I thought perhaps I could use this same tool to strike some work-life balance instead.

I've written about the wheel before, with instructions how to utilise it. Basically, it's a tracking mechanism. You identify the main components, (the priorities) of the project, determine your ultimate goals and outcomes for each one, measure where you are now and work to incrementally progress every part towards goal satisfaction. It's a great way to keep the overall picture in mind and ensure no aspect gets forgotten or overlooked.

Applying this to December, however, I start to notice a major issue.

The component parts are typical — decorating, entertaining, presents, socialising, school commitments, etc. My goals are straightforward enough: tidy house, fully ‘festivised' with trimmed tree, thoughtful gifts for everyone on my list plus spares to avoid embarrassing ‘they got me one and I thought we weren't doing gifts' moments, being there on time for all school plays/choir concerts/holiday events with the right costumes/books/tickets/camera so that we're not the only blue reindeer in the chorus … and so on.

The rub comes however when I consider my ultimate outcomes for each area. Isn't my whole reason for decorating to bring an air of welcoming cheer to my home (not stressed-out control freakishness)? Presents are a way to show I care and appreciate someone (not for feeling resentful or smug about the shopping I do). Social events and festivities are a time to make merry, enjoy company and celebrate what's important about this season (not for rolling my eyes at another thing I have to do).

It seems my current approach and my ultimate outcomes are catastrophically out of sync. If I carry on down the track I'm going, I may complete my list but will have missed my own point: arriving at the station, but in entirely the wrong country.

How do I now turn this express train around?

Keeping in mind my overall vision and the purpose for my actions is a great start. Remembering to breathe (find peace), act from a place of joy, and know that goodwill can extend to accept an off-colour reindeer; that a plate or two may slip, it may not all get done. And to keep chugging along with spirit in my heart and a good sense of humour. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly.

• Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com

‘Tis the season to be jolly: the Peanuts characters are displayed in a holiday window at the Macy's store in New York City (Photograph by Mark Lennihan/AP)

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Published December 02, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 01, 2015 at 8:10 pm)

‘Tis the season of joy, so why the panic?

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