I always forget how stressful this time of year is.
The hype is deceiving right? Christmas, peace, family, love.
We might get some of that too.
But if you are running a mission-driven business, year end may mean:
- Looking for year-end donations – especially this year with the value of tax deductions likely decreasing significantly next year (added stress). This does not have to be stressful, but often is – so many expectations and weird stories we have about asking people for support.
- Tying up loose ends before everyone disappears for a week or more. This might be hiring or firing staff; getting new staff on board and oriented for the new year. Things can feel pressured.
- Facing a cash-flow crunch. Last-minute deals fall through; you may be running on the tail end of grand expenditures. I don’t need to explain this stress.
- Closing out your books in the cleanest way possible, if you operate on a calendar year. If you are a for-profit business this may mean the difference between paying a lot or a little tax come spring. Financial decisions require focus. Hard to do when you are feeling stressed.
- Dealing with an overworked, possibly underpaid staff that is trying to get ready for Christmas, especially if they have families. An unfocused team, only contributes to the sense of chaos.
- Unexpected news – somehow at year end, people often finally feel comfortable making decisions they have been thinking about for a long time. Maybe important board or staff members leave unexpectedly, or perhaps you have personal losses of one kind or another.
Year-end can be SO stressful.
Here are 5 things to focus on to make this time of year easier.
1. Accept. Whatever is happening, each and every stressful thing has its own specific causes and conditions. You may or may not have had a role in it. The fact is, it is happening. You cannot stop it. Relax. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. As painful as it may be, face what is happening. This can give you the strength and clarity to make the best possible decisions.
2. Ask. Is there anything I can do to make this better? Even one small thing? There usually is. Anger, frustration, and anxiety keep us from seeing what might be possible for us to do in this moment.
3. Take NOTHING personally– let me repeat – NOTHING. Most of the time, people are doing the best they can, trying to end or avoid suffering themselves. That is often their biggest driver, just like you. When I realize this, really see it, the next immediate feeling is immense compassion for myself and others.
4. Be grateful. A man asked me for $25 so he could go to our local hotel run by a charity for homeless folks. $25 would have given him a real bed, a shower and a chance to wash his clothes. He had spent the last three nights in a downtown parking garage. I talked to him for a long time and received a hug. I went home, laid in my bed and realized how immensely fortunate I am to have a bed to sleep in every night, virtually unlimited access to clean clothes, water, food, let alone a business with the freedom to create. I have everything, but so quickly can talk myself into thinking I don’t have enough. I am deeply grateful for my good fortune.
5. Be generous. Yesterday a woman asked me if I could help her pay for gas. At first, I said, “No, I’m sorry.” Then, I changed my mind and filled her tank. She was extremely grateful and gave me a huge hug. She had just lost her job and her bigger priority was having enough money to buy her grandchildren presents. I don’t have kids, but helping her somehow connected me to her kids. It just felt good. Do for someone else. Practice in small ways. Immediately you will feel better.
Another way to relieve stress is to begin to more proactively create your new year. If you are a CEO or Executive Director with annual revenues in the $1 – $5 million range and want to get a jump on living your next year more stress-free, I have created a unique opportunity to support you in creating thriving 2018.
These are some of the ways I know to relieve the inevitable stresses that present as we end the year.
What am I missing?
How do you relieve stress this time of year?