5 Tips for Surviving the Unexpected This Season

It’s the holidays – what could go wrong?

You’ve probably been getting ready for weeks. Shopping… preparing for houseguests… plotting the turkey dinner… baking….trying to keep the kids out of your hair… going to school concerts… neighbourhood parties…

You are definitely not stressing and worrying about everything that might go wrong during the most anticipated time of the year.

Other than a family wedding (oops! We’ve got one of those too!) there is no higher-pressure family gathering than Christmas for those who celebrate.

The holiday season can be so much pressure for a lot of people. Did you get the right gift? Will the turkey turn out? Is (insert relative’s name here) going to make things uncomfortable for everyone again this year?

I’m no exception.

The holiday season can be so much pressure for a lot of people. You too?Click To Tweet

As hard as I try not to stress and worry, I always seem to find something to worry about this time of year.

I will admit, however, that this year I’ve been feeling pretty good about how well things are organized in advance of the big day.

Until it hit me: What if we have a “Snow Day?”

We have quite a bit of travel coming up this year as we visit both sides of our family both on the East Coast of Canada and the U.S. We are booked to take six flights over the next two weeks and one “Snow Day” could throw all our best-laid plans out the window.

Are you prepared for a 'Snow Day' this holiday season?Click To Tweet

One flight delay and we could miss the family wedding we are planning to go to, or a big family party, or maybe even (gasp) Christmas!

The East Coast of Canada is getting hard hit with snow at the moment and my sister will often speak of how schools are closed for the day because of snow.

And what happens on a snow day?

Everything is shut down.

The schools are closed.

Businesses may be closed.

Everyone waits for the storm to pass so they can get shoveled out.

You have to STOP.

And one snow day could throw our whole flight pattern out of whack and we could be delayed for…. days!!

But then I remembered. I grew up on the East Coast. I used to love snow days as a kid. Why did I love them? Because everyone had to stop.

Mom and Dad weren’t able to go to work.

I wasn’t able to go to school.

We had to stay home. Maybe play games. Actually interact with each other. Sometimes the power would even be out so we couldn’t even watch TV!

And I loved it.

Some of my best memories as a kid are huddled with my family as we weathered through another East Coast storm.

So what would it take to embrace those moments again? What would it take to embrace things not going according to plan and enjoying a potential snow day? What would it take to put worries aside and embrace the unexpected?

What would it take to embrace things not going to plan and enjoy a snow day?Click To Tweet

Here are 5 tips to navigating whatever shows up during the holidays – even a snow day:

  1. Hang your expectations at the doorOK, so things aren’t going as planned. Your crazy relative did freak out and made everyone uncomfortable. Oops – the turkey is taking 3 hours longer to cook than expected.

    What can you do about it? Let’s look at what is going right and embrace that. That crazy relative doesn’t have to ruin it for everyone… do they? And it’s not like you’re going to starve if the turkey takes a little longer.

    Try having preferences instead of expectations and detaching from requiring that everything goes perfectly.

  2. Enjoy the family time that is right in front of youAlso known as “it’s the people, not the meal.” I will be the first to admit that when push comes to shove, focusing on the “reason for the season” can be hard when 40 eyes are on you to get the meal of the year on the table on time.

    But haven’t you noticed those homes where you are entertained by graceful, relaxed hosts are the ones where you have the most fun? If the host isn’t stressing, the guests won’t either.

    So instead of diving into the nearest punch to calm your nerves (OK, I won’t tell if you won’t) try to focus on why everyone is there and help them leave with a warm glow in their hearts and, eventually, their tummies.

  3. Be in control of you – because that’s the only thing you really can controlHow are you going to respond to an unforeseen turn of events? You get to choose how you respond. Will you be the one who rallies your family to see the bright side of the situation? Will you be the one who navigates the solution? Or will you be the one who brings others down so everyone is miserable during this time?

    You get to choose. When you stop and focus on how you want to feel at the end of the celebration instead of all the tasks that have not yet been completed, miraculously, many of those tasks are no longer important.

  4. Notice what’s possible from hereAnother great thing about snow days as a kid was all the snow!  We couldn’t wait to get outside to see if the snow had drifted in just the right way so we could build a snow fort or even a tunnel through all that snow.

    What’s possible now that the snow has fallen? What’s possible now that your flight has been delayed? What unexpected events will happen or friends will you visit because your flight has made an unforeseen stop? What’s possible now that wasn’t if everything had gone according to plan?

    It’s been said that “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I’m so excited about this idea I almost hope we get a snow day just to see what happens!

  5. Take it outsideAnd if all this “look on the bright side” talk has you seeing red (and it’s not Santa) — take it outside. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Get out of the space you are in that’s driving you crazy.

    Clear your mind and try to re-enter the space with a new perspective. Because this too will pass, the snow will melt, and you can go back to your “regularly scheduled programming” before too long. It’s how you show up for you and your family that’s important.

How do you want your family to remember the unforeseen and unplanned events? How do you want to remember them? You get to choose. Will the Snow Day be the most memorable one of the holidays for all the right reasons? Or for all the wrong ones?

Would a snow day be memorable for the right or the wrong reasons this holiday season?Click To Tweet

I’d love to hear your tips for navigating the holiday season when things don’t go according to plan. Write them in the comments below or message me. We can all use another tip to keep things simple and to enjoy this time of year with those most special to us.

Happy Holidays!
Susan Elford

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Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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