office decorated for Christmas

The holiday season is here, which means we're often forced to choose between work and family commitments (and make sacrifices for both) in order to find the "right" balance for us, for our families, and for our careers.

This can often be a busy and stressful time of year — especially for small businesses with limited staff, limited funds, and a variety of other challenges that make taking time off around the holidays somewhat difficult.

Of course, there is no perfect one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, but I think the tips below give will give you a few things to think about as you try to balance both your work and and personal lives throughout the busy holiday season.

1. Realize your personal goals.

If traveling to visit family is important, then make sure you have the time to take off to do so. If you have huge work deadlines to meet, then realize that you won't be able to have as much family time. Start by identifying these goals and prioritizing them. And remember: it doesn't matter what your goals are as long as you know them ahead of time… and then plan accordingly (see step 2 below).

2. Make a plan based on those goals.

Once you've decided what your business and personal goals are, make a tentative plan as to how you will spend your holiday time. When will you take time off? When will you work extra? Can you do anything from home or while you're traveling? Can you hire temporary help or figure out a way to ease your workload during this busy season?

Make sure you include other important people in YOUR plans too! Family, coworkers, your boss, clients, friends, long-distance relatives, etc. will all play a part in your plan, so it's good to confer with them about your plans and make sure everyone is on the same page.

3. Focus on Gratitude.

This is a big one for me — because I'm the type of person who is ALWAYS looking to do the next thing, grow my business, find a new client, etc. etc. I can easily get overwhelmed in my work and feel grumpy that all the crazy holiday activities take time away from progress I could be making at work… or just down-time I could have at home.

However, when I take the time to consciously focus on ALL the things I can be thankful for, it really does give me a new perspective.

For example, I can be thankful that my business is growing and providing such a great income opportunity for me. I can be thankful that I love working as much as I do. I can be thankful that I have a family to come home to — and to plan numerous holiday parties each year. I can be thankful that I have the means to provide fun holiday gifts for my kids, for the excuse to bake (and eat) delicious holiday treats all month long, etc.

A simple change in perspective to focus on gratitude might just make all the difference for your holiday season this year.

4. Be Ready for Your Plans to Not Work!

The holiday season is crazy, busy, sometimes stressful, but also fun! These are the 6 weeks when we can overindulge in delicious treats, see family we might otherwise never see, catch up with old friends and spoil our kids.

One thing I've learned is that even the most organized plans rarely ever go EXACTLY as planned. The weather doesn't cooperate, flights get delayed, the turkey is over-cooked, employees call in sick, a client order falls through at the last minute, equipment breaks down, you get sick and so on.

There's nothing you can do about  most of these things — so sometimes we just need to roll with the punches and make the best out of the situation (this is way easier to say than actually do, by the way!)

As I mentioned above, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to balancing work and family life over the holidays, but these tips will hopefully help you to think about what's most important to you, and then decide on the best way to allocate YOUR precious time during this busy season.

How do you find balance during this busy time of year?

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