Trading Perfection for Presence

In my early days as a professional organizer, my company was called Task Masters — with the tag line “we do life’s drudgery for you.”  One year in mid-December, I got a call from a new prospect who wanted help preparing for the holidays. There were 2 weeks until Christmas, and she hadn’t had time to decorate her house, shop for gifts, wrap, send cards or prepare for Christmas dinner. We worked non-stop 8 hours per day for 8 days, and by December 24th everything was flawless and ready for its closeup (and the house smelled wonderful).  Though there was something exciting about creating so much magic in just two weeks, I couldn’t help but notice that the stress she felt to get everything picture perfect made it hard for her to enjoy the splendor.

Though we prefer to fantasize about the holidays as a warm and rejuvenating time — the truth is, when they arrive, they can feel so packed with pressure that we aren’t even able to celebrate them. With visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads (thanks to the lights, and music pumping through stores nd holiday fairs), we can caught up in trying to live up to the Hallmark vision of the holiday season. We get so stressed over buying the perfect presents, being the perfect host, wearing the perfect outfit, and cooking the perfect meal, that we can’t wait  for the holidays to be over.  

If this sounds like how holiday prep is going for you, this year I challenge you to try something different. Instead of trying to do everything, perfectly — take a step back and define one or two things that really make the holidays special for you. And just focus on being calm and present for that.

If you catch yourself falling into the trap of perfectionism, stop to consider what’s most important: You can obsess over your lemon and pinecone centerpiece OR you can enjoy talking with friends over a glass of wine and cheese-chipped platter and all. You can bake a pie from scratch with your kids for the school’s holiday party OR you can buy a pie and help your child rehearse lines for the school play.  

The goal is to enjoy the best parts of the holiday, not exhaustedly drag through it all. My wish to you this holiday season is that you will trade perfection for presence, and wrap up 2017 with a feeling of contentment.

Cheers to you and yours, and here’s to a rewarding, healthy and joy-filled 2018!