It is mid-December. We are entering the the very height and frenzy of the season - shopping, errands, parties, performances, and celebrations (oh my!).
"More" and "extra" - more food (and eating...), more shopping (and buying), more running around (less downtime), more, more, and more becomes the constant mood and reality we find ourselves in.
"Finding your center" is something I discuss often with my clients. Because without tethering to our own anchor, we are easily - and readily - swept into the swirl.
In this swirl we are particularly susceptible to doubt - "Are there enough presents to give the kids?" "Do we have enough money?" "Do we have enough time to fit in .... (fill in the blank)?"
It is particularly daunting for parents. The line between what it means to love and be generous gets blurry. There is an overwhelming emotional desire to create a magical holiday - no matter the cost. Often there is an unconscious pressure to to keep up with the kids next door - or the friends at school, or the sad memories we project onto our future adult children - which fracture all the best laid plans.
58% of families who create a holiday budget will not stick to it. 25% of holiday shoppers will withdraw money from their 401k plans to pay for their holiday (if you could have SEEN my response while reading this statistic...) The rest will use a year end bonus, a payday loan, credit cards (that will take months to pay off), or draw on their 'emergency' savings (the holidays are not a surprise...nor an emergency). A few will have saved money for this annual expense, and have a very clear budget of exactly how it will be spent - this is something my clients and I spend a lot of time mastering (in addition to many other expenses).
So what is happening to us during this holiday? I will argue that we have lost touch with what feels like 'enough'. "There is never enough" feels much more accurate to our experience than "enough". We have a way of comparing our reality to everyone else's. So much of this is unconscious, and happens in a split second. One of the biggest influences is the commercials we see, or the movies we have watched. Collectively they mold the image of what a holiday 'should' look like, and despite our financial ability - or our true desire - we will do just about anything to mirror that image.
I want to encourage you to question this image - to sink into what is most meaningful to you, and to ensure that you create this experience creatively, without doing financial harm.
So what can you do? Spend some preventative time with the following exercises to explore a new way forward. Here are 5 tips to creating a holiday that satiates...and is ENOUGH... without compromising you financially.
1 - Plan Your Remaining Holiday Spending -
Pen and paper will work just fine - but you can get as fancy as you wish. Be specific about what gifts you have left to purchase, who they are for, and what they will cost. Be even more specific about where that money is coming from. Make adjustments - be creative - when these two don't match up. Also, check out my blog post (scroll down a ways) about a Mindful Gift.
2 - Determine a Limit -
A limit of money you will spend, or the date that you will be finished shopping - no exceptions. Boundaries get very blurry at this time of year - ask yourself if 'not enough' is creeping in to your decision making...question this in the following exercises. What can you say "no" to? What would this be like?
3 - Ground Yourself -
Breathe deeply, get quiet, and find your center. Often. Before shopping, in the checkout line, before an event. Being present is an incredible gift to yourself and to your loved ones. You open up space for experiencing the moment and simultaneously reduce impulsive reactivity.
Imagine yourself on the other side of the holiday. How do you feel? How do your loved ones feel? What contributed to this feeling? Was it the traditions? The gifts? Or both? Was there anything missing? Would you do anything differently? Then continue on to #5...
This is an interesting exercise and helps you become clear on what is truly important - and what might be easier to let go of (the last round of shopping... the tradition that everyone hates anyway...).
5 - Explore "Enough"
Imagine that you spent twice as much. Does this change anything about the holiday that just passed?
Now imagine that you spend half as much. Does this change anything about the holiday you celebrated? Are your fears worthy?
What did you notice? What does "Enough" feel like? What specifically will help you achieve this feeling?
Any insights? Any surprises? These are exercises to reclaim your center and ensure that you are in alignment with your intention and your spending.
I want to wish you an emotionally fulfilling, satiating, and joyful holiday that feels like more than 'enough' while also preserving your financial reserves!