Sunday, 17 December 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Whoa. Didn't see that coming. Or going for that matter. Seems like only yesterday we were winding down toward 2016 Christmas and New Year's celebrations and now we're coming to the end of 2017! 
Seriously wow. Where does time go exactly? 
Does it go to the same place as all my socks?
Thankfully for a good majority of us here on LinkedIn, Christmas / end of year holidays are generally a time where you can relax and begin to decompress from all that stress and intensity you've handled throughout the last 12 months. It is the opportunity to look back and celebrate on the wins and learn from the losses you may have had, and spare a thought for what 2018 might look like in your career for any new goals you might cook up. 
On the non-work front, it's also an excellent time to spend that much needed quality (or tolerance) time with your family and friends, and celebrate your supporters. It is also important to remember how often life has been so busy that you were forced to overlook the little things you cherish, the sacrifices you have made. Not to beat yourself up, but to make time for them now, plan how to sacrifice less in the future, find the work/life balance. Perhaps like me you're remembering those times you didn't have the patience to listen through another one of your kids terrible jokes that usually start with the punch line, then have an "oops" and then come back with hysterical giggling for the back story.
My favourites are delivered by my step son. He's 8, almost 9, loves to be funny any chance he gets. Add any kind of sugar product and he's almost inconsolable in his mischievous gigglings. Most of his jokes are almost always fart or bum related too, its the age. As a case in point, I do have to admit that I don't always stop to listen when he decides he's got a world-class joke just busting to come out and the pressure has grown too intense [pun intended]. I aim to make more time for him and will endeavour to be a better step-Dad (and Dad) for 2018. Goals, got to have them.
Fingers crossed Christmas day is going to be hilarious. Or nose-curling and eye watering. I'll bet he is intently hoping for both.
But why am I raising things we "didn't do" this year to focus on as we wind up 2017?
The answer is simple. Life is short. There are some things that might be just as important to spare some focus on. Not hitting targets, achieving goals or making a few mistakes throughout the year is sometimes okay. We learn as human beings by making mistakes, its the only sure-fire method to get better at something. Try - fail - try again, repeat. Managing our own expectations, we can have the opportunity to see the positivity around us. It can also open our eyes to things you haven't had a chance to notice. At least not just yet.
The purpose of this article is a call to action. This time of year can be really difficult for a lot of people, some of those could be right next to you at work now, you might interact with them on a weekly basis and never know. Whilst hardships are all relative in intensity for each individual, it is true that everyone has them. Think about yourself for a second - its at this time of year when you're just starting to wind down and feel that "wow, I need a break" for all the hard work you've put in over this last 12 months that the intensity is often at its highest. Maybe you've lost someone this year too.
Maybe you've had enough of your current career and are actively looking for a change. Did you know that people often throw in their jobs for new directions between now and Feb/March? This time of year is when many will make life changing decisions and often start new resolutions etc that hardly any stick to. Consider the fact you've likely been getting a little bit more tired in the last few weeks, maybe been feeling a bit less tolerant with those around you, and closest to you or perhaps you've been burning the candle at both ends and feeling a bit worse for wear. Tiredness doesn't help thinking or mood.
No matter what your situation or what you're planning, now is the time to take that look around yourself, take the blinders off a little more if you can.
I would like to ask that not only do you ensure you do things to help/care/look after yourself and your families as a priority, but that you look to also help someone else, even if its just one person. The time for extra compassion has arrived, not to mention reaching out yourself if you need any help. You can also be open to receiving help if you need some.
Each of us has the ability to help make things better. "Mindfulness" is important. Being aware of others is too. Then to act. And herein lies the request.
I'd like to put a little something out there for you to consider. It's not anything new, ground-breaking or original by any means but it will make a difference for both yourself and those around you, if you choose to roll with it.
Please pay something forward.  
Yes. Be better for someone, even yourself. Think better. Make a difference for someone where you make no personal gain. It can be a genuine kind word, a cup of coffee and a chat, a moment you open up and accept help when offered to you, anything, give help to a stranger, a friend, family member, literally anyone. 
That sounds like a HUGE ask when you're already tired and stressed, doesn't it?
It least for the first few seconds. I promise though, there is a huge WIIFM (What's In It For Me) at the start, during and after, all of which will help you with both your tiredness, your end of year stress and even your overall well being.
Please keep reading.
But there is a sizable catch to my request too though.
Don't be anonymous. That's right. Don't.
In order to make a difference, you have to be present. Be in the moment with the person or people you are trying to help. Human conversation, contact, visibility, is all about being "connected". I'm not talking posting on social media all about it either, please don't do that. I am talking about being visible to the person you are going to help. Connect with them. See the difference you make. See the thankfulness reflected. Reflect it yourself. Start the pay it forward ball rolling. It has to start somewhere.
Whilst yes, it might feel awkward, it might even feel uncomfortable, I assure you, it will 100% enrich the person's day and yours, if even only for a brief moment.
Like the article picture reads -
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
This will be my fifth year this year trying this. I've paid for an elderly couples lunch who were looking for coins to pay a note lunch, have bought food and stopped for a chat with a few homeless people, other times have helped someone get out of an abusive/toxic relationship by moving furniture using my trailer and time. These are just examples of things you can try, to look out for. Even if the effort is small, the results are often so big.
I sincerely hope this inspires you to look to the world around you. Maybe you see it already but haven't known what to do. My advice is just to try. See the plight of someone less fortunate, get involved and give it a go, perhaps just to see someone who is having a bad day and help them turn it around. Pay it forward.
On behalf of my family and I, we want to wish you and yours the greatest of all Christmas's and an even better New Year for 2018. Please reply via the comments field if you've jumped on board this train and let everyone know how it went. Your story might inspire someone else.
Your act of kindness might not change the whole world...but that one act might actually change the whole world for that one person.
Merry Christmas :)

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