Monday, November 19, 2012

Day Four – Budgets and Lists

“There is a great deal of human nature in people.”
~ Mark Twain

Thanksgiving is such a rare holiday.  It only comes around once a year!  Christmas is even more surprising.  No one ever knows it’s coming and then, “BAM”, it’s here.  Your neighbor is hanging up lights.  Christmas music is playing on the radio.  Christmas is so sneaky, ya know?  It’s not like it’s been the same day for two thousand and twelve years or anything.

{Photo courtesy of the Travis Family, Christmas 2011}
One of the coolest things you can do to prepare for Christmas is to budget for it.  The Bureau of American Households* declared that, in the year 2012, money will be spent on Christmas gifts.  How shocking!  And every year the average American puts most of their purchases on credit cards.  Life changing advice: Make and budget and stick to it.  I don’t want to write about money, but I had to share that bit of advice because it is so important.  If you want more info, look up Dave Ramsey (my siblings are rolling their eyes right now).

“But Christmas is here now!!!” you say?  If you’ve already been surprised by Christmas this year, here are some things you can do now:  Budget for next year, budget for next year, and budget for next year.  I have never heard anyone say that it is too late to start changing your life.  You can do it!

Besides money, the other thing that gets me every year is how I always set myself up for failure.

I like routine.  The word “like” is a severe understatement.  Yet, even if you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantaloons-kinda-guy, in some way or another (even if it is a small way), every person likes routine.

Every year, I expect myself to enjoy the holidays when my schedule is completely disrupted.  I am eating different things (Stay tunned! I will write more about this next time!), traveling different places, seeing different people, and so on.  Spontaneity is fun, don’t get me wrong.  I have found, however, that if I incorporate some parts of my routine in those special spontaneous days of “holi” then the results lead to a much better experience.

Some things I do to stay sane:
Lower the bar.  This Christmas is not an episode of "The Best Christmas Ever".

I don’t like dressing up, so I dress in something comfortable, still somewhat nice, but still me.

I try to sit in a comfy spot  or in a comfy chair when I am talking to people.

I drink coffee every morning, so I remember to bring some with me or drink some before I leave.

I also like to exercise.  Even if it is a brief walk around the block, it is helpful.  (You can also use that time to converse with a relative you want to catch up with.  It is a proven fact that people have more meaningful conversations while walking.  Because your body is using energy to walk, your brain automatically prompts you to speak in a more direct and efficient way.)

I also keep a cheat sheet in my pocket or purse.  When I get panicky, my brain shuts down and I no longer remember basic things.  My list includes: Breathe, Sit down, Chew a piece of gum.  You laugh, but it works.  Eventually, I won’t need my list so much.  I just need to form new habits.  But until then, I’ve got my tool box handy.  One more thing... If you don't have kids, hold a baby.  If you have kids, give your baby to someone to hold.  With your arms fully of an innocent little one, you can't help but smile.  And if you need to give your arms a break, mama, then let me hold 'em.

Challenge of the day: Think about your holiday plans and write down a few ways that you can incorporate part of your routine into the day.

*The Bureau of American Households is a made up government department for the sake of proving my point.

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