Managing Expectations & Practicing Gratitude

Taking control this holiday season

While I try to make it a habit to practice gratitude throughout the year, I find myself reflecting more on just how fortunate I am in my life and in my practice this time of year. Every day, I am fortunate enough to work with strong, brave, intelligent people as they work through the challenges that life presents. And while I would like to thank you - my wonderful community - for all of the support you’ve shared with me this year, I also want to acknowledge that the holidays can be a very difficult time for many people. Between end-of-year work deadlines, tight budgets, travel, and visits with family... the holidays can be physically and emotionally taxing on everyone.

This month, I’d like to offer a few ways you can be more mindful with your time this holiday season both at work and home.

Manage Expectations

It seems like everyone needs something during the holiday season. Whether it’s a demanding boss at work or a mother-in-law who insists on doing everything “her way,” it is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of things that are thrown at you.

This holiday season, though, the key to managing expectations is to be proactive and anticipate demands, deadlines, and requirements from colleagues, family, and friends alike.

At Work

If you’re feeling the stresses and pressures of year-end deadlines at work, you’re not alone. Since many companies (or clients) end their business year on December 31, there’s a scramble to get as much done in as little time as possible. That often means that you and your colleagues are left with all of the responsibility and little time for anything else.

If you’re starting to feel the mounting pressure, here are a few things that may help you to be proactive and manage work expectations.

  • Ask for (in writing, if possible) all outstanding deliverables and their expected deadlines;

  • Remind your supervisor/boss of any time off requests you’ve already submitted. If you are comfortable with them, ask them how the aforementioned deadlines can work around your schedule;

  • If you plan on taking time off around the holidays, remind colleagues when your last day in the office will be. Gently remind them that if they need anything from you, they need to submit any requests by a specific date, which will give you enough time to complete the tasks. After all, no one wants to be working on their “time off!”

At Home

Managing expectations with family and friends are just as important to your holiday stress levels as they are with work.

If you find yourself hosting family or friends for the holidays this year, feel free to start thinking about menus/meals ahead of time. You’ll often find that with a little bit of forethought, you can whip of meals ahead of time and freeze them until the day you want to serve them. Doing so accomplishes two things: For one, it is less to worry about once family starts showing up on your doorstep; and secondly, it provides you more precious time to spend with loved ones while they’re in your home.

Taking Time for Yourself

With so much activity around the holidays, it’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle. But going 1000 miles an hour for days in a row is exhausting. That’s why it is so important to take a few moments each day to focus some time and thought on yourself.


One effective way to take a “time out” during this busy time is to spend 5-10 minutes meditating. This could be early in the morning while the rest of the house is sleeping or at night when everyone is going to bed. Regardless, a few moments of solitude can do wonders for recharging your batteries before the start of another day or at the end of a long one.

Keeping Routines

If there are any routines you hold special in your daily life, hold onto them! Perhaps you find that a brisk morning jog or an afternoon yoga class is a great stress reliever. Don’t skip! If you’re afraid of being away from family or friends too long, invite them to join you. There’s a chance that they’re sacrificing their routines and an invitation to join you may be just what they need, too.

When you keep your routines intact, you’ll find that you’re not losing control of some of the activities you love or need, and holding onto those routines also manages expectations, too.

Practice Gratitude

Whenever you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just plain tired this holiday season, I encourage you to take a step back and find something to be grateful for.

Practicing gratitude doesn’t need to be a long drawn-out process. In fact, some studies have linked the feeling of gratitude to an overall improved sense of well-being. (1)

If you can find the time and get into the habit, writing down what you’re grateful for is a nice way to reflect on some of the positive aspects of your life. It can be as simple as “It was a beautiful day today” or “Everyone complimented the dish I made.”

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

As this year draws to a close, I hope that some of these tips are helpful for you through the holiday season and into 2019.

Wishing everyone a happy & healthy holiday!