Survive & Thrive During the Holidays: Planning & Spontaneity Can Co-Exist

Does planned spontaneity sound like an oxymoron to you? Well, it isn’t necessarily so. Our lives, especially around the holidays can be so filled to the brim with activities that spontaneity has become a dying art. By spontaneity I don’t mean the chaos created when you fail to plan and launch into crisis mode. I mean a chunk of time and space in which you can choose to do whatever you want or do nothing at all.

Why do you need to plan it? Well, if you’ve ever said the phrase “When I have spare time I will …” and then years later never gotten to do it, you have experienced being steamrolled by your own schedule. I’m here to tell you that spare time and spare money do not just appear magically out of the air. Sure, sometimes you will find a gift of unexpected free time (like when an appointment gets canceled) or extra money (like when a rebate check shows up) but if you are not conscious about how you spend them they vanish as fast as they arrived and you wonder where it went.

In Part I of this series I talked about the power of intentions. Now that you have a sense of some of the things you’d like to do and more importantly how you’d like the holidays to feel, it’s time to take action to bring those intentions to life. This is where the planned spontaneity comes in.

To me planned spontaneity is simply taking a set amount of time and leaving that open to use as you see fit. What I’ve found works best is to make sure you set aside at least a few hours at a minimum for the spaciousness to be sufficient for the process to unfold. The other key is that you must commit that when your scheduled free time arrives that you will not fill it with obligations or more to-do’s. This time is not for catching up on all the things that slipped through the cracks because you were overbooked all the rest of the time. That defeats the purpose and sends yourself the message that your needs to not matter. It is a recipe for misery and getting the opposite of what you really want. What you DO want to do with this time is to give yourself the gift of doing whatever your own mood moves you to do. Just allow whatever possibilities are there to show up in the space you created. Some possible uses of this free time might include:

  • Enjoying a hobby you don’t usually have time for
  • Engaging in any creative activity that fuels you
  • Spending the day as a tourist in your own town
  • Adopting a vacation mode mindset for the day at home (maybe kicking back and reading a good book, indulge in a leisurely brunch, etc.)
  • Watching a movie in the middle of the afternoon

It doesn’t matter what you do or even if you do anything at all (sometimes a long afternoon nap equates to a much needed guilty pleasure), just that you create some space for yourself to actually stop and just enjoy. It’s about consciously making time to break the routine so you can actually enjoy the season in the way you most desire.

Planning can be extremely freeing. Once you handle the details and create a framework in which to work, you are then freed up to be fully present for whatever you are doing. You might consider using a Holiday Planning Notebook While I personally find it would add stress to my life to go to the level of detail presented in the author’s notebook, having a section for budgeting and receipts as well as a general written down game plan can work wonders. I personally keep all holiday receipts in one envelope for easy tracking and returning. In addition, my partner and I have a written list of who we want to visit, when we are doing so, and any other fun holiday activities we want to partake in, such as visiting a local light display, and what date (and accompanying rain/snow date if need be) we are going to go.

You may feel like you don’t have time to think things through or plan. However if you don’t plan at all you’ll find yourself running around like a chicken with its head cut off and arrive in January wondering “What just happened!?” full of remorse and possible full of debt you don’t even remember incurring.

I guarantee that if you do a little thoughtful planning up front and include some free time for spontaneity in that planning you will feel less stressed, spend less or at least stay within budget, and enjoy the holidays a whole lot more. If that doesn’t sound like a good deal, I don’t know what is!

Photo Credit: stock.xchng

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