The holidays are a hectic time and can be pretty stressful. An understatement, right?

I want to talk about one thing you can do to reduce stress around the holiday season: say no. So why it’s important to say ‘no’?

First and foremost, you’re the only one who knows everything that’s going on in your life. You are the expert on yourself, and nobody else has the inside track as you do. So, you are the one who gets to make the best and most informed decision. But a lot of times, we say yes to something we really don’t want to do because we are afraid of what people will think of us. 

And let me tell you here and now, you have no control over that. 

You have no control or influence over someone else’s opinion of you. You have enough happening in your life, so take that one off your plate because it is a no-win situation.

It’s also important to remember that there are consequences every time you say yes when you would like to say no, or when you say yes automatically without thinking about it. Are you in tune with those consequences? Because you might not be thinking it through, you might not even be aware of what some of the consequences could be.

What we’re talking about is when to say ‘no’ during the holiday season because I want you to say ‘yes’ to you instead. As busy professionals, whether you are an emerging leader, a woman in leadership, or someone looking to create a greater leadership presence, you have to do this for yourself. 

How do you know when to say ‘no’?

Ask yourself, what are the consequences of saying yes? That’s the starting place. This is about you making an educated decision. I have three questions to help guide you in this process.

1. How do you want to experience the holidays this year?

In my Huna studies, Hawaiian spiritualism, we have a Pule. Pule means prayer. And one of the steps in this process is to think about descriptors of your experience of something. So, in this case, I want you to think of as many things as possible to define your desired experience of the holidays. Not what you don’t want, but what you want to experience this holiday season.

When I sat down to create this for you, I thought about what I wanted to experience this holiday season. Here’s what I came up with as an example.

  • I want to experience this holiday season with gratitude
  • I want to experience it, feeling love for myself and feeling love for others as well. 
  • I want to be connected with the people I’m spending time with. 
  • I want to spend it and experience it at a deeper level than just all the commercialism we have in our society these days. 
  • I want to spend it with people that I care about, people that I care about deeply
  • I want to be healthy in my experience of the holiday, and that means spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

That is how I want to experience the holidays with joy. I’m planting seeds in my mind that this is what I want to find this holiday season. Spelling it out allows you to have the benchmarks to make good choices.

2. Who are the people that you want to spend the holidays with? 

Make a list and reach out to those people. See if you can put something on the calendar to make sure that you’ve got some time already scheduled with them before the holidays try to take over, and then you’ve got no time left. Get out front and make sure you’ve made time for these people that it’s so important for you to spend time with. 

My coach has two terms; she calls people engines and anchors.

The engines are the people that fuel you, lift you to a higher level, that really allow you to soar.

The anchors, conversely, are the people that weigh you down. So be mindful of spending time with them.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice, but we can limit the time we spend with the anchors or have a buffer of the “engine” kind of people when we have to be around some of the anchor kind of people. 

So, who do you really want to spend the holidays with?

3. What area of life is most important to you right now?

Of course, it would be great if everything else in our life would settle down while the holidays are happening, so we don’t have to worry about it. But that’s not what really happens. So consider one area of life that is critical to you right now.

It might be your health and fitness if you’re going through a health and fitness journey or had a health scare. 

It could be family. Maybe your career has been on a high note lately, and you’ve spent a lot of time away from your family and want to reconnect. 

Maybe the same thing has happened with your relationships. 

Think about just one area of life you want to focus on throughout the holidays. Then, pick one because it’s a recipe for stress if you choose everything. 

Fully consider these three questions about how you want to experience this holiday season and choose in favor of your answers. Let these answers to these questions be your barometer, so you know when to say no through the holidays.

Here is wishing you all the clarity you deserve throughout this holiday season!

Debbie Peterson runs a speaking and coaching business to help her audiences and clients leverage the power of the mind to create the next level in their business and life! She travels the country, and as a result of her presentations, her audiences and clients have shared that they experience more clarity of direction to stay true to who they are as they move forward. As a result, they leave with an increased focus for clearer, consistent action; and create more momentum, keeping them motivated and achieving the next level of success on their terms. She is also a professional National Speakers Association member and a certified NeuroLinguistic Programming trainer.

Debbie is the host of the Getting to Clarity Podcast, sharing tips, tools, and techniques for busy leaders wanting to create MORE Success with Less Sacrifice in their life. She is also the creator of The Clarity Community, a leadership community supporting professionals to the next level of leadership and life without sacrificing who they are. Debbie is the author of Clarity: How Smart Professionals Create Career Success on Their Terms.

Debbie has long been an advocate for professional women leaders and emerging leaders. In 2015 she stepped onto the board of ATHENA International, a global organization committed to supporting, developing, and honoring women leaders, and currently serves as Chair of the Board.

To Learn more about Debbie, go to Debbie Peterson Speaks.