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Executive Corner – Leaders Should Set Boundaries During the Holidays

Michael Clegg | 12/21/2022

Great leaders use statements like the following:

  • “I got your back.”
  • “Let me know if you need anything.”
  • “What else can I do for you.”
  • “I’m always available.”

I find myself using the last two ALL the time. I believe those statements, and I want them to be accurate, and for the most part, they are. I pride myself on providing as much support and guidance to those I serve. The older I get and the more intentional with my time I am, I realize that I shouldn’t always feel the need to “be on.” I need to set boundaries all the time, especially during the holidays. 

All successful leaders are high-growth, high-performance, high-expectation types of people. I give so much energy to my professional teams throughout the year, and what’s left over is for my family and friends. The holidays are about family and friends and the time of the year when it’s ok to say NO professionally. Although, we will dive deeper into boundaries in 2023 as I learn more about setting them professionally.

I subscribe to Brendon Burchard’s Growth Day app. Each day, he has a message called the “Daily Fire.” Today’s topic was self-control. 

Five key points about self-control:

  • Thought Management
  • Time Management
  • Integrity
  •   Learning
  • Boundaries

Let’s focus on the boundaries portion. The holiday season brings so many demands. The hustle and bustle, as my grandparents would’ve said. There are so many parties and celebrations, food, and drink. This season needs MORE boundaries, NOT less. Leaders have a limited amount of energy reserves. We plan to recharge, yet we get to January 2nd or 3rd and are more exhausted than when the holiday season began. It’s ok to slow down. It’s ok to recharge. It’s ok to do a puzzle with your kids. It’s ok to play monopoly and, dare I say, “sleep a little later a couple of days or even take a nap.” 

We must put self-control on the agenda to be the best version of ourselves. A reminder, setting boundaries isn’t only about keeping people out. It’s about keeping our values and relationships in. Those inner values are measured by what we tolerate. Just like company culture. What are you willing to tolerate during the holiday season? Do you want to feel exhausted on January 2nd, or do you want to be the high performing professional that you are?  

Here are some very simple tips to keep in mind during the holiday season:

  • Don’t totally abandon your routines and continue self-care
  •  If you cold plunge daily, continue to (see Joe Rogan’s new routine)
  • If you work out during the week, keep working out as part of your regimen
  • Continue to read industry news if you enjoy it
  • If you meditate in your family room but can’t because you have a full house, go for a drive for 10 minutes and park your car and do it there
  • Rest and relaxation are critical
  • It’s ok to say NO or NOT NOW. If it’s not meaningful to your holiday goals, don’t do it, or do it a couple of weeks down the road
  • Set financial limits to your holiday activities – just because Cousin Eddie and his family show up in the RV doesn’t mean you have to treat them all to dinner.
  • Take a bite of that apple pie that you usually would not. You don’t have to eat the whole piece or the whole pie.
  • Avoid challenging conversations that you might have with siblings or your children – just because your son quit college to follow a band you’ve never heard, give it a break until January 2nd.  (Find great memories of when your child was normal – just kidding- sort of)

Setting boundaries during these next two weeks are critical to your sanity and feeling burned out. You have high goals and expectations for 2023. It’s ok to give yourself a break and, in fact, scientifically, a fact that recharging is a necessary tool for us to be the best version of ourselves. Gallup survey shows that 3 of 4 workers experience burnout. Research shows that when we create resting into our routines, it maximizes the positive effect on our mind, body, and emotions.

There is plenty of data proving that we need downtime. Celebrate your 2022 wins with your family and friends. Moderation in everything is critical. Put your phone down and talk to your family. Pick your phone up and call a friend you haven’t spoken to this year. Do these things, and you WILL be the best version of yourself on January 2nd/3rd and ready to serve those that count on you the most.

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