How to stay unstuck during the holidays

The year-end holidays are often called the happiest time of the year — but they’re also one of the stickiest.

The high expectations (Merriment! Harmony! Picture-perfect!) can deflate our will to join in before the high season even starts. And once we’re in the thick of it, we just might come undone by the pressure and pace.

This year, instead of getting stuck in our usual yuletide ways, we can find better approaches to holiday stress and disappointment by tapping into Unstuck’s tools. Here, seven big holiday roadblocks and the tools to help us do something about them.

Holiday roadblock #1: “I can’t get organized.”
Holiday planning challenges even the most organized, as we wrangle the details for meals, travel, parties, gifts, and cards. If efficiency is not a strong suit, the holidays can bring on minor chaos.
Unstuck tool: “Get Your Game On” is a super-simple way to come up with an action plan (or two or three).
And/or do this: Follow our 3-step planning guide for the non-planner.

Holiday roadblock #2: “I have way too much to do.”
Organization goes out the window when our to-do list suddenly doubles. It also builds resentment and dampens the holiday spirit.
Unstuck tool: “Call in the Cavalry” is an easy way to figure what assistance is needed and who to recruit for it.
And/or do this: Read about five surprising benefits of asking for help, followed by the art of asking for help.

Holiday roadblock #3: “Something’s changed and I don’t like it.”
Tradition rules during the holidays, so when we’re asked to veer from the way we usually celebrate (No shrimp cocktail this year; going to your spouse’s family’s house), our response is a crestfallen “Noooooo!”
Unstuck tool: How we choose to deal with an unwelcome turn of events makes the difference. Test out possible responses with the “Spread the News” tool.
And/or do this: Check out “3 ways to face change” and try out the “Track the trade-offs” exercise in the Transition Smoothers worksheet.

Holiday roadblock #4: “Every year is the same and I’m bored.”
Holiday prep and hubbub can seem like all work, no joy, when we lose sight of why we’re doing it in the first place.
Unstuck tool: “Shake Up Your Routine” is a clever exercise in getting rid of what is dragging you down so you can do more of what inspires you.
And/or do this: Try any or all of these Motivation Boosters to get your holiday spirit back.

Holiday roadblock #5: “I wish someone else would make these decisions.”
Stay home or go away? Real or fake tree? Should I buy my spendthrift brother something practical? Who do we invite to New Year’s eve? Invest in energy-efficient lights or stick with what we have? The holidays are a kaleidoscope of indecision for anyone with Waffler tendencies.
Unstuck tool: “Pros vs Pros” is a quick way for us to tap into our gut instincts and get those decisions made!
And/or do this: Find out why “Making a wrong decision can be good for you,” and follow it up with “How to use your gut instinct to make a decision.”

Holiday roadblock #6: “My family drives me nuts.”
We’re the first to admit that as much as we love our family, they push our buttons every time. We can already play out the holiday scenarios in our head — filling us with dread of the inevitable.
Unstuck tool: The “Obstacle Course” tool lets us map out our holiday path — hiccups, frustrations, and all — so we can strategize on how best to deal with them.
And/or do this: Pick from 15 ways to zap your annoyance, learn the rules of confrontation, and get really good at empathy. You might even want to be prepared to apologize.

Holiday roadblock #7: “I’m too busy to do that holiday stuff now.”
Guilty! The holidays trigger all of our best delay tactics, even though every year we vow not to repeat last year’s procrastination. (People kind of get irked when you tell them you saved 50% by purchasing their gift on December 26.)
Unstuck tool: In the “Now or Never Tool,” go straight to the end (answer “yes” to all questions) and work on your deadlines and consequences. Use it now. Use it often.
And/or do this: Consider these “8 tricks we play on ourselves to avoid doing something” and then get “9 tips to stop procrastinating.”

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