Kelly stared at her calendar. Her color-coordinated blocks, which generally calmed her mind, brought rising panic. She anticipated exhaustion. Where would she find the time?
Whether you’re a mom, solopreneur, employee, employer, student, or dreamer, how do you finish the year well?
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says,
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Your entire life flows from your relationship with God. This is your anchor, your grounding, and we must start here when we discuss finishing the Christmas season and year well.
How do you finish well?
1. Lower your expectations.
December can overflow with parties, gift-giving expenses, decorating desires, and so much more. No one can do everything, so free yourself from that expectation. What do you want to do? Identify those items and skip everything else.
2. Get adequate rest.
I don’t mean only sleeping 6-8 hours a night. You can sleep for 8 hours and not be rested. How do you restore? God created you uniquely in this area. Tap into that. Here’s an example: I must be off my computer by 6:00 p.m. When I try to work after that, my mind won’t shut off, and I don’t sleep well. What relationships rejuvenate you? Invest in these. You are a holistic person with mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. Rest nourishes each part of you.
3. Maintain your daily routines.
In the added expectations of the Christmas holiday and year-end, it’s easy to think you can skip your regular routines. Not so. You need these to navigate a typically busier season. Think you can skip your daily time connecting with God? You’ll languish in other areas because you didn’t ground yourself that day.
4. Give yourself grace.
What do you need to get done? Do it and kick perfectionism to the curb. Done is better than perfect every time, and no one is perfect besides Jesus. Allow yourself to do the best you can and be satisfied with that. You can make changes later if necessary.
5. Focus forward.
It’s so easy to look at past actions and think, “If only I’d. . .” That thinking bogs you down and doesn’t accomplish anything but fear and anxiety. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it. Feel anxious about a looming project? Instead of procrastinating as has been your MO up until now, ask yourself what one aspect you can tackle today that will move it forward.
Review these five action steps to help you finish the year well and navigate the Christmas season with grace and poise. You can do this.
To help you prepare your heart, home, and life for Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ birth, remember to PAUSE.
P: PRAY throughout your day.
Prayer is a conversation with God that you can do anytime and anywhere. Ask God to give you wisdom and grace when the kids are driving you nuts. When that project feels stuck, ask God for insight to move forward. When you don’t know how to respond to the brokenness in your relationship with your husband, talk with God about the hurt and allow him to bring peace and calm.
A: ANTICIPATE joy and blessing.
When something happens, how quickly do you run to “I knew it. I knew nothing good would come of this.” or something similar? Negative thought patterns don’t help you finish well, and they feed the fixed mindset. Even in relational strain, you can look for joy and blessing. I regularly read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann’s beautiful writing style reminds me to search for blessings every day. They’re there if we choose to see them.
U: UTILIZE others’ gifts.
Note I didn’t say, “use others.” Utilizing another’s gifts to help you move forward shows wisdom. You can’t do everything on your own. No one can. Who do you know who can help you? Trade services, pay them, or work out another arrangement. Do you need a babysitter to watch the kids so you can finish shopping? Swap time with another friend, take advantage of a parent’s night out at a local church, or hire a babysitter for the time you can afford. Free yourself up to do what you love and do best.
S: SAVOR the season.
You only have today. Engage your five senses—taste, touch, see, hear, smell—to enjoy the present. Are you with friends for a get-together? Take it all in. Be fully present. Are you sitting in a counseling office with your husband, working through the effects of his porn usage? Open your mind, heart, and soul to process the pain well. Don’t pull back, but fully engage.
E: EMBRACE quiet.
It’s time to slow your roll, my friend. Burning the candle at both ends and the middle doesn’t serve you or anyone well. Find ways to restore during this season. Slowing down allows you to accomplish more. A favorite way I do this during the Christmas season is to turn off all lights except those on the Christmas tree, light some candles, turn on some soft music, and savor a cup of tea. If we have a fire in the fireplace, even better.
My prayer for you this Christmas season?
PAUSE. Allow God to guide, heal, and direct your steps. By doing so, you guard your heart, so abundant life flows from you.