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Just when you thought life was stressful enough – work, family, an overbooked schedule – the holidays arrive.

Parties, gift-buying and family gatherings can add additional layers of stress to your life. When visions of the “perfect holiday” run into the reality of our day-to-day lives, we can become cranky and anxious.

The leading holiday stressors, according to a study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, are:

  1. lack of time
  2. lack of money
  3. hype and commercialism

But you can get through the holidays without feeling overwhelmed. By practicing healthy budgeting and using the WISE checklist, you can enjoy the holidays and live a life of purpose.

First, prepare a holiday budget: Determine how much you can spend without damaging other financial goals and obligations. Then, based on what you can spend, allocate money to these categories: gifts, charitable giving, food, decorations, travel and a holiday emergency fund. This fund should equal 10 to 20 percent of what you have to spend and give you a cushion for handling forgotten or unexpected expenses.

Next, budget your time:

  • How much vacation time do you have available?
  • If you have kids, what’s their holiday schedule?
  • Will you have guests visiting or be traveling?
  • What activities do you want to do so the holidays feel special?
  • How much time will be required for shopping, decorating and cooking?

Using your answers, build a rough schedule. Do it in pencil because changes are likely. Try scheduling only 40 percent of your available time with things that must be done. This way, you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities or meet unexpected obligations.

With your financial and time budgets in place, you are ready to use the WISE checklist to handle the holidays’ hype and commercialism.

When you start feeling stressed or become aware that you are piling on more spending, tasks and commitments than feel comfortable review the checklist:

  • Wherewithal: Do you have the time and money required?
  • Integrity: Will you be giving up things you value more by saying “yes”?
  • Superhero: Do you believe you can, or have to, do it all?
  • Elation: How are you feeling? Will saying “yes” contribute to more joy or more stress?

The WISE checklist isn’t just for the holiday season. Use it to maintain your focus on living a life of purpose year-round.

Live a Bold and Authentic Life

Matt

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