One of the things I enjoy most in life is putting careful thought into Christmas presents I think my family and friends will really enjoy. I spend hours hemming and hawing over tiny details, to make sure they’re just right. When the family asks what I want, the answer is always the same – a haircut. Why something so mundane? Simply put, I spend so much time at my job, or social events related to it, that by the time I’m done with my day, I’ve either forgotten to schedule any “me time” or I’m so exhausted I can’t bring myself to do much of anything else. In a city as busy as Washington, I’m sure I’m not alone.
This Christmas I’m going to give myself some unorthodox presents, and I recommend you do the same.
- “One hour each day to do whatever the heck I want.” Do you ever feel guilty because you aren’t moving? Do you have FOMO (fear of missing out) so you have to be out and about at all times? Are you exhausted because you’re being run ragged by your work hours? Stop and take some time for you. Whether it’s going to the gym, sitting down and enjoying a crossword puzzle, or watching your guilty pleasure on Bravo, don’t feel guilty for taking one hour each day to do something only for you. That work email can wait. You aren’t going to miss anything at happy hour. You deserve to rest. Take care of you and then you can take care of everything else.
- “Permission to fail at something.” I don’t know about you, but I hate failure. It can make me feel worse than any other person could make me feel and can send me into a tailspin of depression faster than Nancy Pelosi can increase the size of government. I am going to stop beating myself up over failures and focus on learning from the mistakes made. Critically thinking about the process that led to failure is much more productive than dwelling on it. Plus, if we’re willing to fail at something it means we are willing to take risks that could yield great rewards.
- “The will to forgive others immediately.” We’ve all been there. Someone did us wrong. They did us so wrong, in fact, that we don’t think we may ever speak to them again and even the sight of them sends you into a rage. I’m going to stop doing that. Anger can be paralyzing to our production at work and the function of our personal lives. Forgiveness frees us from the confines of anger. I want nothing more than to be productive in all aspects of my life, so if forgiving someone helps me achieve that goal, I’m going to push through and do just that.
- “A winning lottery ticket.” No, I don’t expect to win the actual lottery (even though I am guilty of purchasing a Powerball ticket on occasion). The purpose of this is to remind myself that really cool things could happen when I least expect it and to be open to the dream. Buying a lottery ticket is like wondering whether or not you should take that new job – it might pay off or it might be a waste. The important thing is to keep a positive and hopeful attitude in everything you do. I don’t care how old you are – you’re still far too young to be a cynic. Keep your dreams alive.
Wish lists as a child were full of magic and wonder, usually in the form of a toy that would be forgotten in a year. Wish lists of an adult can be so much more because gifts that you give to yourself have the chance to last forever. I hope you follow my lead and give yourself some presents that will change your life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Patti Simpson is director of political and career services at the Leadership Institute.