For the past couple of weeks, our clients have come to meetings looking a little worse for wear. They are running hard at work—where many are at fiscal year end—while also trying to prepare for the holidays. They are attending the plays and shows that their kids are in, going to office and personal holiday parties, participating in religious services or activities, and trying to figure out great gifts for hard-to-buy-for family members. Many report that they both love and hate the holidays. On one hand, they love most of the connection and celebration but on the other hand, they are busy, stressed and tired, and often find friends and family feeling the same. And even clients who don’t celebrate the holidays find themselves swept up in the frenetic energy and sense of strain of the folks around them.

This year, as you are navigating through the holidays, think of yourself as a leader in your life, work and community. As a leader, your role is to influence your world and be influenced by your world so:

  1. Identify 2 – 3 things, no more, that are important for you to do over the next few weeks. (Priorities may include getting a key report to a client or getting the special chocolate your kids love, it doesn’t particularly matter what they are, it only matters that you know what they are and have time in your schedule booked to get them done.)
    • Identify times when you can do these priorities and put them on the calendar.
    • Make a note on your calendar about where you will do your priorities.
  2. Sit down with the people who are most important to you and discuss the opportunities for connection, the demands on all of you, and the schedule for the upcoming few weeks.
    • With your partner and children, talk about what needs to get done and who can contribute. If you have young children, consider who can keep an eye on them from time to time to give you and your partner some space to think and get things done.
    • With your boss, colleagues or direct reports, review the goals of the upcoming weeks. Be certain you all know and agree to the priorities and then identify what will get in the way of achieving those priorities. Then, together, create a plan for moving forward.
    • With extended family, let them know what you are thinking about for the upcoming weeks and come to agreement on what is an absolute must do and what you are going to consider optional.
  3. Set your alarm clock 5 minutes early, roll out of bed and review your day.
    • Make sure you know what your priorities are—work efforts, time for self, kids, shopping, etc.
    • Identify with whom you need to communicate to get things done or to keep something from blowing up.
    • Identify 5 things you are grateful for (this is an inspiring way to start your day year round, and it’s particularly helpful at this time of year.)


In the movies, the holidays are happy, loving, spontaneous and connecting or they are disastrous explosions of personal misery. Neither story has to be yours. Take some time this week to position yourself for a fun, hectic, connecting, tiring holiday—one that leaves you proud of how you showed up and managed your priorities.