After the last few years we all owe ourselves a proper break, writes Anna Beckett
So we’ve finally made it to December and I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted. Maybe that’s to be expected - in a year in which we’ve had three prime ministers, 40°C temperatures and a huge number of strikes it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed.
Plus, we’ve had two years where Christmas celebrations were overshadowed by Covid. For me at least, I think I’ve forgotten quite how busy December can be.
As usual, the first two weeks of December have been a rollercoaster of expectation. Can you deliver this report before Christmas? Can you make a start on this new project? Will you be able to visit site on the 21st December?
Are we actually just putting too much pressure on ourselves?
Realistically the answer is no, but we don’t want to let anyone down so we keep piling things onto our plates until the gravy is dribbling off the sides. Of course, it’s great to be busy, especially with a recession on the horizon, but will it actually make much difference if we deliver in the first week of January rather than the last working week in December?
When that’s combined with several work Christmas parties, drinks with clients and the expectations of our family and friends to cram three years worth of Christmas activities into just one month, it all starts to feel like too much.
The thing is most clients are quite reasonable about it and realise that they’re asking quite a lot. So why do we still keep agreeing to hit those deadlines? And fit in another social engagement? Are we actually just putting too much pressure on ourselves?
Most of us are probably more burnt out from the last couple of years
For most of us the answer is yes and if we took a step back and considered a little more carefully what we’re doing we’d see that maybe we’re not really helping ourselves. Most of us are probably more burnt out from the last couple of years than we realise so we’re pushing really hard but not achieving as much as we’d like.
If there’s one gift I think you should give yourself this year it’s this; be a bit kinder to yourself. Cut yourself some slack and maybe say no to some things. If you can’t fit anything else in before Christmas and if you’d rather spend your Sunday watching terrible Christmas films on Netflix than going ice skating, that’s fine.
If your work calendar is already overflowing and you really can’t take on anything else until the New Year then have that conversation with your client. Let’s start being more realistic about what we can achieve and take some time to do the things we want to do rather than the things we need to do.
I’ll be watching Love Actually for 65th time, eating Quality Streets and loving every minute
It’s been a difficult year and its unlikely things will get easier for a while so let’s make the most of this holiday. In the past I’ve often felt like the time between Christmas and New Year is a bit of a waste of annual leave; time I could be travelling the world instead of watching movies.
But not this year - this year I am genuinely quite excited about it. Maybe I need the break or maybe I’m just getting old but either way, on the 27th December I’ll be watching Love Actually for 65th time, eating Quality Streets and loving every minute.
Anna Beckett is an associate director at Symmetrys