Let’s take a break from Christmas cookies and such to talk about guarding your time. This has been a game changer for me, especially over the past year. At work, we start each meeting with a safety or values moment and I’ve been leading a series of meetings with different groups over the past few weeks. Since the same people are not in each meeting, I can recycle the content and have shared the same values moment, which I call “Holiday Hustle” at each one. It’s gone over quite well and is about determining what’s truly important to you and prioritizing those things over what society, the media, and other people might deem important. And the holidays are prime time for that. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Shopping for over-the-top Christmas presents, planning picture perfect family photo shoots for greeting cards, and making every single thing from scratch can fill up your whole schedule like you don’t have a full-time job already!

None of these things are bad. You can do all of the festive, flashy holiday things you want to do. As long as you want to do them. So think about what it is you want your days, including the holidays, to look like. And give yourself permission to dismiss the external pressures and expectations that bring stress to what’s supposed to be a peaceful season. Don’t put so much energy into recreating holiday decor you’ve seen on TV or trying to snap pictures that will go viral, that the in-between moments that really matter only get what you have left to give. Reflect on what makes the holidays special for you and your family–what actually brings you joy. Lean into that and guard your time against everything else. Your traditions and celebrations don’t have to look like anything you see on HGTV or even across the street at your neighbors’ house.

Guarding your time is a practice that pays off. If you’re not in the habit of doing so already, you might want to think about adding it to your 2020 intentions. At the beginning of this year, I eliminated the word “should” from my vocabulary and it has guided how and where I invest my time and energy. On a regular basis, I think about the big and small things that can fill up my routine and whether they will serve me and the people I love or whether they’re things just things I feel I should do because somebody else does them or expects me to. If I don’t critically evaluate what I’m taking on and why, my time gets eaten up trying to keep up with other people and meet their expectations rather than being truly invested.

Right about now, guarding my time looks like only attending the events I want to, buying gifts I know my family will love without breaking my budget, and catering some of my Christmas party menu so that I can celebrate with my friends without stressing over every little thing. I’m excited about the holidays because this season is filled with only what is important to me and my family. I encourage you to move through this holiday season–and every season–with intention. Take care of yourself, focus on what matters, and take the unnecessary pressure off. Thanks for reading!

P.S. More free game: