Despite the tumultuous state of the world we find ourselves living in, time marches on and we face the winter holiday season with emotions mixed and intensified. Normal went out the window in March, and with the shifting landscape, a definitive “new normal” is hardly codified. When I began thinking of how to approach this holiday season in all its weirdness, the answer felt at once simple and complex — lean into my values.
Having heavily prioritized therapy and work with my life coach this year, the topic of values has come up frequently. If we begin with the definition of value — a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life, then we can move on to the unique combination each of us expresses in our day to day life. Using personal values as our starting point, we can begin to navigate and make choices that free us from potential holiday stress and leave us feeling aligned, grounded and intact.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Identify your values. Easier said than done, but there are quite a few resources out there to help you clarify yours. One that I recently discovered, the Life Values Inventory, was a helpful and succinct quiz that consolidated similar values (i.e.- “Concern for others” might include generosity, compassion, thoughtfulness) into an easy to understand master list. You may also wish to identify your values starting with the recollection of a great moment in your life where you felt absolutely yourself. What made it great? Why was it fulfilling? Then break down that moment into the values contained therein.
Step 2: Identify your shoulds. Chances are that your to do list this holiday season has a lot of “shoulds” or “need to” on it. Go ahead and write it all down. The baking, the gifting, the decorating, the card sending, the charitable giving, etc, as well as anything you typically look forward to.
Step 3: Edit that list. Redline anything that isn’t aligning with your values and see where that leaves you. If you’ve crossed everything off, then it’s time for some new traditions or scrapping the season altogether and hibernating like a peaceful bear until it’s over. If you’ve got some leftover, take note of the patterns and which values those items align with.
Step 4: Lean into your values. Take your edited list and run with it (if you’re solo) or compare notes with others in your household and allow them to take over in areas you’re less inclined towards and they find their own value in.
Step 5: Experience joy, peace and a shame-free holiday season.
Based on the Life Values Inventory, my top two values are Concern for Others and Creativity. What that tells me is that charitable giving is a must and the themed throw pillows I purchased from Target were practically a birthright.
What values will you be bringing into this holiday season? And what’s one item on your “should” list that you are ready to cross out?