This year, I actually purposefully decided to write a blog about what Christmas and the New Year mean to me, instead of sending out carefully crafted business newsletters like I used to. This is also the first year for me to have set all business email accounts to “out of office”, because I sometimes find it hard to switch off during the holidays – not just because I am self-employed, but also because I really love what I do, and the lines between private life and “business” can become very blurred when working creatively.
Today, a lot of people are still rallying around to get the last Christmas presents, or to buy the food they will be preparing for their families. TV, papers (and my email inbox) are already full with “sales” messages. It all feels more stressful and commercialised than anything else.
I have pretty much withdrawn myself from all of this this year, because Christmas has a slightly different meaning to me since I lost my mother to cancer in February 2009 – long before her time (she was only 59). This time of year is difficult – simply because it reminds me of the times I used to spend with her. I have to say that the good memories now start to take over, and the pain of losing her isn’t that raw anymore. Still, the way you perceive Christmas really changes after you lost a loved one. Christmas and the New Year are now a time of reflection for me. I am not a very religious person, but traditionally, we probably all think about what lies behind us, and what lies ahead, when the year comes to an end.
If I look back on 2012, I learned a lot about my health. I learned to say “no” because of it, even if it sometimes felt difficult. I learned to trust my inner instincts when it comes to “filling the well”, instead of keeping on doing the things that drain it. I stopped making other people’s agendas my own, and I only do what I really want to do. I invested back into professional development – a thing I always did, but during 2012, more than usual, especially in the department of working “on myself”. I went back to University to study something I feel very passionate about, and I am excited about the opportunities it presents me with.
If I could put in a nutshell what Christmas and the New Year mean to me, a few thoughts immediately spring to mind:
- The most important thing is to spend time with my loved ones, because I had to learn the hard way that none of us are going to be around forever.
- I allow myself to switch off during the holidays, despite being self-employed. I also stopped having a bad conscience about it.
- I came to understand that I usually do better if I trust my instincts and only do what I feel passionate about, not what I think other people expect of me. I also believe it is something that translates into everything, from personal to business relationships.
I hope that you can spend some quiet time to reflect on your goals for 2013, and that you find the courage to take the necessary steps for your own creative journey. And this is where I switch off for the rest of the year and wish you all a very happy Christmas, and a great start into 2013!