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This week I am going to take a short break from our series on how people change to do a couple short posts on the holidays and upcoming year.

Today’s Big Question: If your holiday season was a success this year, what will have happened?

Last week I was talking with my friend Trey about strong finishes to 2019—and he really inspired me.

He shared his intention to create the most warm, loving, and inviting space for his family to come into this year for the holidays.

I love that!

He may not be able to control what his family does this year, but he has direct control over the action he can take around creating this environment for them.

Trey is a committed father, a thoughtful husband, a driven coach, and a devoted friend. He is highly intentional with his time, and because of it—he often gets great results in his life and his relationships.

In their awesome book The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath have gathered a mountain of compelling psychological research that support the following conclusions:

  1. Defining moments shape our lives.
  2. We don’t have to wait for them happen.
  3. We can take more active role in consciously creating them.

Life is made of up of powerful moments, so what moments do you long to create this season?

I can hear the skeptics saying “That’s great but things may still turn out badly! You don’t know my family.”

It’s true—things may not go as you planned, but you can choose how you approach the situation.

It’s all too easy to slip into the habit of anticipating that things will go badly because they always have, but expectations play a huge role in shaping the outcome. And you can choose to have different expectations. You can stack the odds in favor of the outcome you want by deciding how you will approach the situation.

Isn’t that worth it even if you fail?

There are few regrets when you know you have put your best effort forward.

The holiday season can often be the most stressful, chaotic, or even painful time of the year—so it’s time to press pause and take a step back before rushing straight into the holiday chaos. Ask yourself what moments you want to create this year?

Turn Information Into Action

Since written goals raise your odds of achievement and the act of writing brings your intentions into greater conscious awareness—take 10 minutes in a quiet space this week to write about the following:

  1. What is one thing that would make the holidays a success this year? How can you be more intentional about this?
  2. Make the holidays about connection, relationship, and memories. Virtually all the studies on joy, fulfillment, and happiness in life show that relationships are what make life worth living. Don’t catch stuffluenza this year, all the research shows that material purchases fade and memories with the most important people last. Where do you want your focus this season?
  3. Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to go into debt. According to a survey by, about half of Americans consider the holidays an acceptable reason to go into debt. But have you ever looked at your budget in January only to realize you are now stressed out because you are tight on funds from overspending? How silly is it that the holidays actually catch us by surprise each year!
  4. Create the holiday traditions you want, not the ones you grew up with. Honoring family traditions is important, but we can sometimes get stuck repeating the things we saw our families do growing up just out of habit. Take some time to think about what holiday traditions you want, have a conversation with your spouse. Take some time to consider what you want the holidays to mean for your children.
  5. Do an “after action review” of the holidays. My wife and I have found this helpful. What worked? What didn’t? And what might we do differently next year. Having this conversation can be a great way to avoid repeating the same things you don’t like every year, and can be helpful in coming up with new ideas.
  6. Get your focus onto serving others. Sometimes the best way out of pain is focus on serving others. It can be an instant boost to your mood and sense of purpose.
  7. Do you need to forgive someone? It’s been said that holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. The holidays can be a great excuse to forgive people by being the first one to reach out and extend compassion. All the studies show that forgiveness is good medicine. You might be surprised that it helps you even more than the other person.

Wishing you a holiday season of gratitude, generosity, joy, courage, forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation.



Suggested resources

  1. The Power of Moments—Chip and Dan Heath
Dr. Parker Houston

Parker Houston

Dr. Parker Houston is a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified in organizational psychology. He is also certified in personal and executive coaching. Parker's personal mission is to share science-based principles of psychology and timeless spiritual practices, to help people improve the way they lead themselves, their families, and their organizations. *Opinions expressed are the author's own.
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