standing under outdoor holiday lights to make the best use of the time off during the holidays

Make the Best Use of the Time Off During the Holidays

Only 17 days until Christmas and 24 days left in 2023! Are you ready for the year to end? Is there anything you want to accomplish before 2023 ends? As a high-achiever with lofty goals, I wanted to make the best use of the time off during the holidays.

I know I’ve personally always looked forward to the 1.5-2 weeks of downtime at the end of the year between Christmas and New Year’s. If I wasn’t traveling and on vacation away from home, I saw this time as an opportunity to do all the things I wanted to do but never got around to during the year.

Expectation for spending time off during the holidays

On top of spending time with family and friends, I usually had this long to-do list of all the things I wanted to do like:

  • Read all the books I’ve bought throughout the year but never opened
  • Update your resume
  • Pick up a new hobby like learning calligraphy or how to crochet or knit
  • Create a scrapbook (or video reel now) to document the year and memories
  • Go through and organize the bazillion photos from past vacations into photo albums
  • Write or journal more to build that habit
  • Practice meditation
  • Relearn a new language like Spanish or French
  • Learn family recipes for my favorite foods
  • Clean or declutter the house and closet
  • …and more

Reality for spending time off during the holidays

What actually ended up happening was the time would just fly by and all of a sudden, I’m dreading going back to work on Jan 2. I had hardly made a dent on checking anything off the to-do list because I spent so much of the time off recovering from work and turning my brain off. Then I would just feel guilty that I wasted all that time binge-watching TV shows and Christmas movies. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s fun and ok to have that holiday movie marathon, especially if it’s a family tradition.

How to make the best use of the time off during the holidays

But I’ve now realized that I was setting unrealistic goals for myself and then naturally, of course, I’d feel guilty when I didn’t accomplish any of the goals. I also didn’t clearly understand my true motivators or desires for wanting to do some of the things on the list. I didn’t have a clear understanding or connection to a why. Time to change that! Here’s how to make the best use of the time off during the holidays.

1. Narrow the focus

The key is focus. Rather than spread yourself thin and create too many goals where you end up completing none of them, focus on one thing you want to work on during the time you have off. Which of the items would you prioritize? What are you most excited about?

2. Determine the why

Once you’ve identified that one key goal, figure out your why to find a deeper meaning and connection for you that will motivate you.

  • Why do you want to prioritize this?
  • Why are you excited by it?
  • How and why did it appear on your to-do list to begin with?
  • Why does it matter to you?
  • How is achieving it going to impact your life?
  • What happens if you don’t achieve it?

If you don’t find it, then maybe you need to reconsider whether the goal you picked is what you actually want to work on. Find another goal if needed.

3. Identify the plan and any challenges

Now think about how you would like to accomplish your goal. Start with small steps. What does your plan look like?

Is there anything holding you back from accomplishing this goal? What could block or prevent you from doing it? How would you address those challenges? Adjust your plan as needed.

Then, it’s all about execution. How can you stay accountable to yourself? Remember that any progress made is better than none. So it’s ok if you don’t actually complete your goal by the end of your vacation time but at least you’ve started. Now you can look back and not feel guilty for “doing nothing” and feel satisfied that you were able to make the best use of the time off during the holidays. And importantly, remember to take a well-deserved break to relax and take care of yourself too!

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