Holiday Survival Tips for the Professional Woman! (so you can thrive!) - #PM38
Hi everyone, it’s Pat here, and I am coming to you today with a really hot topic, and this was prompted by conversations that I heard just in the last few days, and it really caught me off guard because one of the blatant comments that I was hearing, one of the statements was, “Oh my gosh, the blasted holidays are coming,” or “It’s time to turn the calendar and oh my gosh, the stress is building,” and so I know today, the day I’m recording this, is Halloween, and this is intended for many professional women because hey, it’s Halloween and you may actually be out there wearing your superwoman cape. So what I say to you is enjoy it for today, and then after today, when we turn the calendar to tomorrow, take that cape off.
Now the tips I’m going to share with you apply to men too. I see that you’re hear Roger and Donna. These tips apply to men and women, but mostly women because I know that there are times when we – this is self-imposed – feel like superwoman. You have to get beyond that.
November and December right around the corner, we’ve got Thanksgiving coming up in the United States, Christmas is coming up around the world, Hanukkah is a holiday that’s coming up, and I can feel the stress mounting with many women, particularly professional women, many of you working women. I don’t care if you’re in the workforce or if you’re an entrepreneur, or what have you. And for the men who are joining me, you can share these tips with the women that you love and care about, and support them.
So yes, I made notes because I was talking to my team about this, who are women. I asked for their input and there are so many things I could cover on this Facebook Live, but I want to respect your time I don’t want to take any more than 10-12-15 minutes, so I’m going to go a really high level, but I’m certainly going to give you some action steps that have worked for me. I’ve experienced a lot of holidays. I’ve been around the block and I’ve experienced them as a married woman, a single woman, a now again single woman, a professional woman who travels a lot.
Let dig in, let’s dive in, and be sure to hit share and let people know to come and join us here. Yes, like I said, take the superwoman cape. I’m already hearing the panic and I want to help you get beyond that because we have time, and time is precious here, so I’m going to approach this topic from two angles, one personal – I always start with the personal – and two, professional.
If you don’t heed the tips I’m going to give you for personal care right now because you feel that you just don’t have the time, what makes you think then that you’re going to have the time when you have so much self-imposed stress that you get sick, and then you’re going to want to tackle all these things that we put upon ourselves for the holiday times and the holiday spirit.
On a personal level, with the holidays approaching, one of the first steps—for those of you who are my clients, you know I’ve talked about this before. I want you to start with the end in mind. Start with the vision and, to keep this simple, let’s talk about December 25th. That already conjures up emotion and feelings around family. That’s the first one – family, health, time scheduling, money, people, family around us. I want to approach it from the personal level and I want to approach it from the professional, but the first thing is let’s look at December 25, which is pretty universal, and I want you to write down that date. Get yourself a big, blank piece of paper and write down December 25th.
Now, in some cases around the world, and I have clients around the world who join in on this, in some cases you celebrate the evening of December 24th, which my family used to do in Quebec with French tradition.
Whether it’s the 24th or whether it’s the 25th, write down the date at the top of the page, and then I want you to stop in a quiet moment and write out everything that that date represents to you. I want you to write out how you want it to look, how you want it to feel, and get it out there. Be very expressive in your words. Be very detailed in what you’re writing around what you want December 25th to look like and feel like. That’s step number one; paint the picture and make it emotional because, heaven knows, it’s emotional, especially as we get closer.
Number two, once you have that written out, then call a family meeting. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be emotional, but call a family meeting and then communicate with your family what you have written as your vision for December 25th. The reason I do this is all of the years of my married life, and I was in a blended family, so there were all kinds of different grandparents, and I was the stepparent and there was the other parent. I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted things to look like, but listen, I came to the marriage with my own French-Canadian, Catholic, military background experience, coming into a family who already had traditions, and I know this is the norm these days. So paint your picture, sit with the family, share it with them, and then find out from them, especially kids, what are you thinking about? What are you looking forward to on the day? Then work to create a common vision for the day.
I’m telling you, this is probably the best tip of all I’m going to give you, but stick with me I’ve got more, especially on the professional level.
Once you’ve done that, and as a family unit you’ve come up with a description, and hey, whoa, hold the presses, maybe you even decide to shake it up this year and you want to change the way you do things, just because you’ve always done them that way. So maybe you’re going to change things this year and you decide together that’s what you’re going do, then communicate that to the rest of your family. You might have an aunt, an uncle or a sibling who’s so accustomed to just showing up, being entertained, and being fed, that that’s going to throw them out of whack, and you don’t need that kind of emotion, whatever it might be. As your family unit, you first, then your family unit, then communicate with the family.
All right, so once you’ve done that, then work backwards on your calendar. If we’re looking at December 25th, which isn’t that far away, then start to back it up. This is the way I work with my coaching clients in their business, with their launch dates, their goals, and their sales targets, it’s the same thing in life, so you want to work backwards on your calendar. If you’re expecting to have a multi-meat meal on Christmas Day, somebody has to go find that turkey or that lamb, or that fish, or whatever you’re having, so prepare the grocery list. What day are you going do that? Prepare not only the day you’re going to prepare the list, but what day are you going shopping and who’s going with you? Make it a fun family excursion for crying out loud. This does not have to be “duty” heavy.
One of the reasons the joy has gone out of Christmas is because we’ve turned it into a duty, so let’s bring the joy back, and let’s do it together. Work backwards on your calendar. Think about all the things that need to be done, places you need to go, events you want to go to. Work it backwards on the calendar, and let everybody have a colored pen and put their hand on it. Write backwards instead of leaving everything for one to two weekends, which is absolutely overwhelming, and I know. I used to do that and it was just plain stupid, and then I got worn out, then I was miserable. No joy in that. So that’s the third step.
The fourth one, as I said, again, you share with family, but here’s the biggie. We oftentimes will be thinking about the gifts, and we think about the meal, and then we think about who’s coming. Those are the three biggies, usually. The things that tend to get forgotten about and we women remember, like who’s going to clean the toilet? Who’s going to wash the floors or vacuum the rug? Or make the beds if you have company and refresh the beds if you have company? So here’s a big lesson for you women. This is where you have to learn to outsource and delegate. I’m serious. Outsource and delegate. Why in the world do you want to go through the days leading up to Christmas when you could have joyful time with your family, and then you, playing the victim, are saying, “Well no, I’m going to stay home and clean the bathroom.” Really? You have the power to change this, so outsource and delegate.
The reason I’m coming to you today with this is you have to get on the calendar of these cleaning companies right now. I’m in London, Ontario. I’ve started using the services of Peggy’s Clean Team. Look them up on Facebook. Peggy’s Clean Team. Tell them Pat sent you. They are amazing, but they’re also popular and they’re booked, so if you’re sitting there now and you believe this is a brilliant idea, which I think it is, then outsource and delegate the things you don’t want to do, and spend the time with your family and/or the time with yourself. Go to a spa or something. I go to Starbucks and enjoy a coffee with my friends while the cleaning team comes in here and takes care of things that I choose to no longer do in my house. Do that for Christmas for yourself. Gift yourself, but again, get prepared. Make the call now and book your time so you’re not disappointed. Promise me you’ll do that.
The fifth one. For each day between now and Christmas, for example, or New Year’s, I want you, superwoman, to plan one thing each day for self-care. I can see some of my colleagues on here, Bill in particular. I know you’re going to be climbing the mountains in Colorado just to get exercise and fresh air. Brilliant. All of you on here, choose five to ten minutes a day for self-care. It might be five minutes of meditation; it might be a ten-minute walk around the block. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes each and every day when you stop and take care of you. Stop and take in the oxygen. Stop and really take care of you because you is important. So no excuses on that one, self-care.
All right, the next one, tip number six. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the process, people. Like I said, a lot of people have turned this joy into duty, and you’re going around feeling so overwhelmed, so stressed – a lot of it is self-imposed – that quite frankly, you’re just turning into someone who’s mean, tired and ugly, and not a whole lot of fun to be with, not a whole lot of fun to work with, not a whole lot of fun to live with. You can take charge of this. You can be prevented here, so enjoy the process, and that comes with communicating with people.
Number seven, create some new traditions. I would encourage you to incorporate at least one new thing. As a business owner, I encourage my clients in a practice I do, which is to review my business all the time and take a look at what am I going to keep doing, stop doing, and start doing? You can do that with your personal family holidays. Take a look at what are your traditions? Perhaps you’ll want to stop doing one thing and incorporate one new thing. Try it. You might like it, and perhaps that will bring the joy back for you.
I’m going to move on into the professional aspect to it now, and this also applies personally, quite frankly. That’s why it’s on the edge here. Watch your cash flow. As entrepreneurs, particularly new entrepreneurs, I want you to stop with the guilt that we feel that can happen around the holiday season about going out and buying gifts or showing up at every networking event, needing a new outfit, buying gifts, housewarming gifts, and so on. Watch your cash flow. This is so critically important. You don’t really have to go out there buying gifts for people you barely know or don’t even like, with money that you don’t have. Take responsibility. Watch your cash flow, personally and professionally. You don’t need to do that, personally. Quite frankly, in North America, we have so much stuff. Who needs more stuff? Let’s get more thoughtful about the holidays this year. Again, that’s why I’m coming to you early in the season, so stop buying those bright shiny objects with money you don’t have. Do not go into debt because those bills will come in January and they’re going to hurt. Now, if you do not heed my advice on this, and January comes and the bills are coming in, and you need help, you call me. I’m a great business coach and I’ll help you out of that rut, but I really don’t want to have that happen to you.
Number two; schedule your time and energy. So important in the next two months and beyond. Schedule your time and energy, and be diligent with this. I schedule everything in my life. My clients often ask me how do I find time to exercise. I don’t find time. It’s in my calendar. Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00 a.m. I go to yoga. Monday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. I work out with my trainer. Saturday I’ll do something different. Actually, I’ve just joined a new Meetup group for hiking in the area. I don’t find time; I schedule the time. I don’t find energy, I have a very disciplined day and whether it’s the holidays or not, I follow through. I get at least at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night. I hydrate daily, constantly. I’ve always got my hydration right here, always. I meditate every day. Oprah and Deepak have a new free meditation series that just started yesterday called Managing Your Time. I highly recommended it. Get your hands on that. It’s five minutes. You don’t “find” time. You don’t make time; you schedule it and watch your energy improve.
That’s one thing you want to do over the next two months.
Number three as a professional. If you’re in a good cash flow position and you know that you want to get gifts for your clients, and so on, it’s not too early to start thinking about it. Have a team meeting or, if you’re a one-person show, have a team meeting with yourself and decide what are you buying, when are you buying, for whom are you buying, and how far does it go? I have clients around the world, so as I’m considering gifts for my clients in South Africa, for example, I want to be proactive on that. Be thinking about your cash flow and then appropriate gifts for your clients, talk to your team if you have a team, and then delegate that to the team. Talk through what you want and what your vision is for the gift, delegate it to the team, get a time-frame associated with it, put somebody in charge, make them accountable, and have them get back to you so you know it’s done. It works really well. I know because I do it.
Let me back up for a minute on the cash flow. If you don’t have money and cash flow is not happening in your business right now, and that’s okay, it happens, and we have contraction and expansion in our business, so if you don’t have the cash flow, pick up the phone. Surprise somebody the day or two before Christmas. Call them. Say, “Thank you for your business. I appreciate you. I appreciate you as a person,” and in addition to that write a personal note. Just get some nice paper. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Get some nice paper and write them a personal note, and put it in a pretty envelope, something that’s a little different than the typical white envelope that our bills come in. But do that. That’s very thoughtful and it will be appreciated.
The next one, on a personal level, comes down to Christmas dinner, which is a lot of work. I did it for years for my family. It’s a lot of work and, in the latter years of my marriage, I got smart. That’s when I realized the Weston hotel actually created Christmas dinners, and all I had to do was call, and again, call early, put in your order, go pick it up, and bring it home, take it out of their tin foil containers, put it in your roasting pan and put it in the oven, crank it on so you have the smell and the aroma. I did that for the last few years of my marriage. Oh my gosh, it was a lifesaver. I can sit and visit with family while the meal, which was already prepared, is heating up in my oven. No guilt whatsoever, although there were family members who made an effort to impose guilt on me for doing that. I’m a good cook. It’s like, “Couldn’t you have been bothered? Didn’t you care enough?”
Here’s the thing. Nobody can make you feel guilty. Only you can do that, so don’t. Consider, perhaps, this is the year you go to some commercial site and buy your Christmas dinner already prepared, and then enjoy the day, enjoy the process, enjoy the food, enjoy the people.
Number five; plan something fun for beyond the holiday. This is a great tip I learned from my mentor Lou Tice many years ago. His expression around that for anything was to goal-set through, not goal-set to the holiday.
Many of you know and can think about the letdown that happens for many people the day after Christmas. It builds, it builds, it builds, it builds, you do, you run, you do, you stress, and then poof, all of your efforts, people eat that dinner in five minutes, and you think what? So goal-set through. My tradition now, in Canada it’s a holiday the day after, called Boxing Day, so I plan something fun for Boxing Day, and that way I just keep the happiness flowing, and you can too, on a smaller scale, a calmer scale, but have something planned so you don’t have that letdown and the day just disappears. It’s a really fun tradition to get into, and also it keeps the emotions pretty high and happy.
The next one is to plan your time off. Now, my team and I talked about this. When you have team members who have a number of different clients, they are so dedicated, for the most part. My team certainly is. It’s up to me to say to my team, “I’m taking the last two weeks off. I do not expect you to be doing anything for me, for my business, to support me or support my clients during that time. You need to go take care of you and your family, and your traditions.” So be thinking about that as a business owner, and even my team, they’re business owners, so they need to identify what they want, communicate that, and then stick to that.
If some of my clients are emailing during the holidays, my team is so dedicated they would respond. I said to them, “Stop doing that. I don’t expect it. I’m sure my clients don’t expect it in between the holidays, so don’t you be putting that on yourself.” It’s a good tip for those of you who are perhaps in a supporting role in a business.
Then the other part to that is plan your time off in advance and tell your clients. Tell your clients. Again, it’s communication, people. It’s communication. That’s another piece of it.
Unless you work in a life-and-death occupation, unless you’re there, there’s no reason for you to have to show up in your business in that holiday time-frame. That’s just you playing the victim or the martyr, so stop it. You don’t need to be doing that. Take the time off to be with your family and friends.
There are times when I’ve had lunches starting in January. What I did, again, I scheduled. Perhaps I would say to family or friends, “I’m going to be working the first two hours of the morning.” I’m usually the first one up anyway. “I’m going to work the first two hours, so let me have that dedicated focus time. I’ll get the work done and, when I’m done, then I’m with you.” So when you’re working work, and when you’re with family be with family, or by yourself be by yourself. Get into that habit communicated to them, and then stick to your word instead of bouncing back and forth in the work. If you do that, that’s on you.
Take the time to be with your family and friends. Everybody needs a break. Don’t be the victim or martyr because nobody’s going to thank you for it. Nobody. Most of them won’t even recognize what you’re up to. It all comes down to this. It comes down to us being responsible for our happiness. It comes down to us being responsible for our cash flow. It comes down to us creating the memories that we want to have as we go forward in this journey we call life.
Let me address one last group, and these are the single professionals like me. There are many of us out there; women who are divorced, women who are widowed, and who are alone at Christmas. I’m talking to you now because I know the deal, and again, do not fall into the victim mentality or be a martyr, and poor me, I’m all by myself. There are so many things you can do, places you can go, and people you can serve.
The first year I moved here, I went to the food bank and then I went down to the shelters and helped feed people on Christmas Day. Such a joy for me to stop and really appreciate what I have in my life because you need perspective sometimes to know how blessed we are. So for those of you who are in a single situation, take charge. Again, be responsible. Don’t let the day just come and go, and then feel sorry for yourself. There’s no reason for that, so take charge of it.
Now, those of you who know you have friends like that, come on, pay attention and perhaps include them in a few things. They might say no, but many people just want to be asked, so think about that. Look around your block. Who’s recently divorced? Who’s perhaps divorced and the kids are off with the other family? Just be thoughtful around the people this holiday season. That’s really what I’m boiling it down to here.
Last point, again, as Lou Tice always said to me, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me,” so if the stress is mounting, that’s on me. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, that’s on me. If I let the holiday go by and/or I’m out spending money I don’t have, that’s on me. I wanted to share these tips with you today so you can be proactive and you can take charge. It’s your life and it’s the one and only. The holidays can be special. Put the stuff aside. Put the debt aside. Let’s get back to focusing on the people, on the experiences, on the skating things that we can do, the singing that you can go do. I used to go buy a little junior sized Baskin Robbins ice cream cone and I’d go sit in the mall and just watch people. Oh my gosh, there’s entertainment for you.
Those are my best tips, and so if you want some more, go to my website http://hirepat.com and look at the blog. Some of the tips I shared last week on travel for professional women hit almost 2,000 views. Oh my gosh, so we knew and felt and believed that these tips before the holidays, to be proactive, would be of help too.
Please hit share. There are many women who will grab one or two of these tips and it will be a lifesaver for them, but again, as I’m always saying, these are good tips. These are simple tips. I like to keep it simple, and again, it’s not a matter of intellectually knowing anything, it’s a matter of personally applying what you’ve heard. So please go apply one of these and leave some of your tips in the comment section too. I’m sure that I’ve skipped over some of them, but I did want to hit the highlights, and I wanted to hit them hard because, again, it’s your life.
So you take charge, be happy, Happy Holidays to all of you. I celebrate Christmas. I’m proud of it. I love it, and I just love being happy, and you can too. See you next time. Bye everybody, and hit share.