As a court reporter, perfectionism tendencies are in my DNA. I have spent the better part of the last 25 years building a business based on the goal of achieving 100% accuracy. Capturing the entire record, verbatim, is the business model of Donovan Reporting, and one that our clients value and appreciate.
We are currently in the throes of the holiday season, which means that most of us are ramping up for marathon shopping binges, hosting and attending a variety of holiday celebrations, overeating unhealthy food, visiting relatives, masterminding memorable experiences for children and other loved ones in our personal life, sleep deprivation, and end-of-year work stress. There is simply no way to achieve 100% success in every aspect of our work and personal lives at this time of year.
As a person who strives for perfection, I can attest that perfectionism may be my Achilles’ heel. Since I have many holiday seasons under my belt, I thought I would take a moment to outline some important reminders for perfectionists, like me, who struggle with the stresses of the holiday season.
5 Tips To Save Your Sanity During the Holidays
Breathe. In the midst of the holiday frenzy, it is easy to forget the real reason why we celebrate in the first place. Invest a few moments to take some cleansing breaths and allow yourself a safe respite from going at Mach speed during the holiday season. For example, on the way to the mall (or holiday party), consider pulling over at a nearby park and allowing yourself to listen to a favorite song or simply sit in a quiet car for 5 minutes before proceeding. Clear your head and shake off the stress from your work and family commitments. You will be glad you did!
Be Realistic. It is not fair to expect yourself to single-handedly prepare a home-cooked meal for 20 guests if you are also working end-of-year overtime and are booked with parenting commitments every evening and weekend. Allow yourself to share responsibilities with your spouse, children, friends, and helpful family members. Your loved ones will remember your laughter and personal interaction long after they forget what plates you used or what dessert you served. Others will likely appreciate your realistic approach and may follow your lead when it is their turn to host.
Embrace Your Feelings. The holidays can trigger all sorts of emotional responses from family-of-origin issues to mourning the death of a loved one (and everything in between). If you feel sad, allow yourself to notice and acknowledge that sadness before quickly burying it away. During the holidays, many perfectionists spend a lot of time nurturing others. Remember to also nurture yourself during this season. You deserve the self care!
Learn to Say No. I learned many years ago that when you say yes to one thing, you must say no to something else. With the holiday season comes many invitations. It is important to weigh each commitment and ask yourself: Does this support my most important loves? If the commitment is going to stress you out, allow yourself to decline the invitation. For some people, this is almost impossible. One way to learn to say no is to offer another solution. For example, “Sorry, Kate. I am not able to attend your party because I have another commitment. May we schedule lunch for early January so we can catch up? I really want to know how the party goes.” Using this strategy is not as bold as a blatant “NO,” but it can help you maintain control of your schedule during this very busy time of year.
Invest in Community Outreach or Philanthropy. There is no better way to put things in perspective than by spending a little time on a cause that is meaningful to you. Whether your passion is the environment, child welfare, literacy, homelessness, cancer, autism, or any other issue facing our world – investing a little time on something you are passionate about can help reduce stress and allow you to feel a connection to the larger world. If your time is too limited to make that commitment during December, consider making an end-of-year donation to a cause that you support.
In summary, I suppose the point of this post is to remind you (and me) that perfectionism, especially during this time of year, can shake your sanity. Of course, as court reporters, accuracy and timely delivery is just what we do. However, setting the bar just a little lower in the other areas of life, during the holidays, can be a good strategy to ensure that you have the bandwidth to truly enjoy the season.
What are you doing this time of year to strive for that elusive work-life balance? I would love to learn what is working for you!
Lori T. Donovan, RMR, CRR
Certified Court Reporter