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Note: We had some technical difficulties during the recording of this episode, and as a result you might notice some glitches in Ben’s track during the course of the show. Here at seanwes, we always try to produce the highest-quality podcast we can, so we wanted to apologize. Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoy the show!

We look forward to it every year… or do we?

The holiday season is just about on top of us, and while it can hypothetically be a time for peace, reflection, and family, those qualities are easily overwhelmed by feelings of stress, overcommitment, and inadequacy.

Today, Ben and Dan give their best tips for making it through the holidays in one (mental and emotional) piece. A lot of these are perennial seanwes topics, and now is the perfect time of year to talk about them once again. (We also include a great sidebar on holiday travel, where Ben provides his recommendations for the best suitcases to pack your six kids in.)

Between managing your commitments and protecting your time and attention, focusing on what’s meaningful and setting yourself up for a great new year, let’s go into 2020 strong.

Happy Holidays! 🥳

Links & Resources Mentioned
Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated by Descript and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.

Dan: [00:00:00] Hey Dan here We had some technical difficulties during the recording of this episode As a result you might notice some glitches and Ben’s track during the course of the show here at Sean Wes we always try to produce the highest quality podcast we can So I wanted to apologize Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the show 

Ben: [00:00:24] I will sit in a Walmart for five hours to get a gift for myself and that’s I think An expression of self love

Good morning Dan

how are you This fine It’s it’s kinda chilly over here What’s the weather like for you up there 

Dan: [00:01:00] It’s chilly as well but it’s it’s sunny and uh around these parts Every sunny day is a good day even if it’s cold So I’m doing well and I’m thoroughly caffeinated 

Ben: [00:01:10] That’s good I think I’m I think I’m actually over-caffeinated 

Dan: [00:01:14] Oh 

Ben: [00:01:15] Yeah it’s been a it’s it’s cold and it’s also a little bit rainy down here I love the cold weather Yesterday It was up in the high seventies and then a few days before that it was in the 50s it just it’s in Texas where the weather does you know this like it’s doing parabolas you know You know what I mean by parabolas Like 

Dan: [00:01:41] I do yes 

Ben: [00:01:42] I hate it I that’s I I’m I’m kind of stuffy and and like I have the sniffles I think and I I blame them whether 

Dan: [00:01:50] Okay All right We will uh we’ll we’ll run with that So it’s a problem with the weather and it’s not some inherent flaw in your character 

Ben: [00:01:59] Uh I’ve met I feel like this is this is my magical segue I feel like my schedule and just my energy and is kind of doing parabolas too Like like I’ve got these pockets where I feel like I’m just going a hundred miles an hour and then I’ve got these other pockets where it’s like okay it’s it’s time to relax and chill and just really try to be present in the moment Um but it’s tough This is this is probably in my household This is the craziest time of year and it’s already you like we maintain some level of crazy anyway but this but this time of year is especially crazy 

Dan: [00:02:45] So you’re what you’re referring to is what I believe is is commonly known as the holidays and they’re they’re basically on top of us right I mean by the time this show goes live it’ll be mid December 

Ben: [00:02:55] Yeah I consider like I went when I think about the holidays um I feel like that kind of starts around Thanksgiving break uh here in the States It’s usually like mid November Um it was a little bit 

Dan: [00:03:13] That’s it’s like mid November through the end of the year 

Ben: [00:03:16] yeah Yeah That’s a pretty big chunk of time You know if you if you think about it in terms of the kind of effort and energy and focus you like to deploy for a quarter of your year Mmm This this particular season just comes with some challenges that uh Maybe we kind of experience in different ways throughout the year but but it’s just it seems so concentrated right now 

Dan: [00:03:47] Right You’re saying it’s it’s the combination of like on the business side trying to wrap things up for the year but then on the personal side there’s usually a lot there’s family engagements If you have a job there’s probably like a holiday holiday parties things like that 

Ben: [00:04:03] Yeah there’s a it’s it’s a combination of all of those things And then I think also there’s Mmm At least at least for me I have kind of this weird energy around this time of year because I’m cut the end of the year approaching and I’m thinking about the things that I wanted to accomplish this year you know like what I set out to do at the beginning of the year 

Dan: [00:04:28] Right and how you didn’t get any of them 

Ben: [00:04:30] Exactly And then you know I’m like my mind’s already there and I’m thinking about the things I want to accomplish next year And I also there’s a part of me that just wants to be like you know we made we made it this far It’s the holidays Just relax It’s you know you can you can pick things up again in January and just wants to disengage There’s a lot of like conflicting stuff going on and then you just add on top of that the the chaos of school events That are oriented around the holiday and school breaks the family stuff like it’s just it’s just a lot 

Dan: [00:05:14] That’s true God forbid you have to go shopping around this time of year 

Ben: [00:05:18] No Oh you know what though I don’t know what we did before Do you know one year This is yeah Are you familiar with black Friday 

Dan: [00:05:28] Yes I’m not sure there’s anywhere on the planet earth that you can escape the gravitational pull of black Friday 

Ben: [00:05:34] One year I I got up at one o’clock in the morning and I I went to a Walmart and I went I went first Uh cause this was a 24 hour Walmart So it wasn’t one of those situations where like people were waiting at the door And everybody rushed in So but I I wanted to beat the crowd So I got there at 1:00 AM and I went to I I got I got the first spot in line I sat down and five hours later I walked out of that store with the TV that it me probably $50 less than I would have spent if I would’ve just gone and gotten it at another time So 

Dan: [00:06:23] That’s pretty darn good That’s I mean that’s basically the equivalent of working for $10 an hour So 

Ben: [00:06:28] Exactly Yeah So so no no more of that nonsense That’s uh I don’t know There is something kind of fun about going out to the stores too And and 

Dan: [00:06:39] no you’re wrong There There isn’t anything but at least bit fund My my previous job the office was adjacent to one of the largest shopping malls in this actually I think it’s one of the largest shopping malls in Canada And Oh my God Around this time of year like you you don’t even leave the office cause it’s nuts Like I’d go down and I’d usually go to the mall to get coffee or sometimes to get lunch and that mall was often busy but around this time of year wow Just just to see just an endless sea of people That’s not that is not my jam That’s not my jam 

Ben: [00:07:16] No I mean I I love being with people but mostly people that I know and I have you know fun conversation with not strangers are the worst Um I’m just kidding 

Dan: [00:07:28] He’s not kidding 

Ben: [00:07:29] So in spite of all of that um I feel like this year I’ve done a pretty good job of staying Productive and staying on top of things even in spite of some really big personal challenges that that just kind of you know hit us out of nowhere this year And I can’t really attribute that to some you know but as I thought back on it because I I feel like the topic of this show is really geared toward people who feel like as as they’re going through the holidays They’re having this experience where they they feel like they’re having to put the effort to get the same amount of work done There are more demands on their time It’s harder to focus It’s harder to to stay on track And so I I want to I want to help people who are having that experience in a couple of different ways I’ve you know I feel like film ways we need to give ourselves a little bit of grace And in other ways I think it’s it’s helpful to hear critical ideas of how we can reclaim some of our focus and and some of our time um in you know during specifically during this season So I thought back over some of and some of my habits and I’ve kind of distilled what what I reflected on into Some ideas that that I think it would be fun to talk about here And this is coming from my perspective as as parents and a part of a family who is pretty uh consistent about getting together for the holidays And then I I think it’d be good to hear from your perspective too Dan is as someone who’s in a very different set of circumstances 

Dan: [00:09:23] Sure That sounds That sounds good Yeah Maybe as a jumping off point You know I I could mention last year you and Sean did an episode three 95 it’s called holiday hangover which um I think was mostly addressing the problem of having drunk too much mulled wine during the holidays because mulled wine is a very important part 

Ben: [00:09:45] Yeah 

Dan: [00:09:46] But uh but no I was listening back over to that show and there’s a there were a couple of good points in there that I think we can bring back But meanwhile you know uh it just struck me as funny but also like not surprising that we might do We might obviously you know we we come back to the same topic multiple times on the podcast and we talk about the magic of seven Now you need to hear the same information seven times for it to really click So this is just something that people go through every single year You know I this is like I think there’s a deathless hunger for this particular topic When the holidays come around it gets hard It gets stressful And it really is I think it’s really because um it’s not that everything changes It’s that things kind of get like get the volume pushed up to 11 You know where you alluded to it before Like we are always human beings We are always looking back at the past fantasizing about the future and then trying to live in the present And in the holidays it’s all even more so right You’re thinking about what you did or didn’t do over the past year You’re thinking about what you want to do next year and then meanwhile you’re trying to like be present with whatever you’re whenever you’re trying to do during this season 

Ben: [00:11:07] Yeah So and and I I kind of laid out Not in any particular order but most of the things that kind of pull on our time And so there’s having you know suddenly five boys who spend eight hours a day at school home now is just you know like th there’s a lot more to manage And fortunately Rachel and I have done a pretty good job with our schedules that we’re able to kind of Still maintain our normal work hours and make that work It helps that the boys are getting older and a little bit more responsible Those things help but it’s still uh just not the same as them just not being in the house because of the code or the more stuff they get into you know it’s just um so that’s one layer of it There are lots of school activities so anytime there’s A Christmas concert a Christmas choir concert or orchestra concert or some kind of holiday event They they usually put a lot of the field trips and stuff around this time of year also And so all of those things tend to eat into the schedule different parts of our routine And so we’ll have an evening that we normally would have been home And had dinner and done the chores and all the dishes are done and all the lunches are made know Instead we’re going off and we’re doing something as a family for school And so none of that stuff gets done And that makes the mornings that much more challenging and it kind of throws it throws off the whole rhythm and add to that things that we just want to do as a family for the holiday We love going and Getting hot chocolate and driving through this neighborhood that’s got amazing lights and a few other things like that Um but but again you know those are things that take us out of our rhythm And then there are the family gatherings and traveling out of town and all of the ways that kind of messes with our our rhythm So And then you know I’ve got a watch like 20 Christmas movies and what am I going to do That a lot 

Dan: [00:13:36] Yeah that’s true It’s true At the end you got to get the annual viewing of die hard in there from what you saying you know what occurs to me is we we don’t we usually don’t have a lot of margin in our days as it is and then you can see how quickly that gets exhausted over the holidays when you add on top all of the other things you want to do Right So There There’s an expectations game going on here right Where if we are expecting ourselves to be exactly as productive as we are for the rest of the year but also you know the kids are at home If you have kids and you want to go out and do holiday stuff and you have family commitments and things like that something’s got to give 

Ben: [00:14:20] Yeah And and that’s I think the first thing that you have to do is realize that you’re you you can’t fit more more stuff into the same container I I know it’s you know no holidays now we’re in the middle of it but it’s something that we really need to be in the practice of all year round and really kind of before the holidays especially Um we we tend to experience something called schedule creep kind of like the concept of lifestyle creep Like it just gradually over time This happens with so many things like This happens with the the domain names that I’ve accumulated over the years This happens with newsletters that I’ve signed up all kinds of stuff It just like over time if you’re not purposefully cutting things away even in this house with our family we need like a quarterly purge of stuff Um and and you know to change some of our purchasing habits and stuff like that So with schedule creep it’s no different if it’s a more efficient way to get things done but you’re not replacing something else necessarily Sometimes 

Dan: [00:15:42] There You know there’s a few episodes that are relevant for the holiday thing because You know a lot of what we’re dealing with over the holidays are the same things we deal with during the rest of the year They’re just magnified So Ben sort of alluded to this before but there’s an episode four 43 of the shameless podcasts called define your non negotiables And it uses this great metaphor of rocks pebbles and sand So if you if you think of your available time and attention as being a jar You have all these things that you want to fit in there If you and and they take the form of rocks and pebbles and sand If you fill a jar with sand there’s no room for rocks But if you put a bunch of rocks in the jar it might look like the jars full but then you can still pour in some pebbles and they’ll fill in the spaces around the rocks And then it looks like the jars really fall but you can still pour in sand and it’ll fill in the spaces around the the rest The idea there is that the most important things in your life the non negotiables the things that can’t can’t move can’t be denied Those are the rocks and you want to put them in the jar first So the thing that happens around the holidays is we start to slip right So if you have habits like getting a good night’s sleep like writing every day like working on your business It’s easy for those things to start to slip because you went to your company’s holiday party last night and then tomorrow night your friends are having some people over and then et cetera et cetera But I mean this really this really does a number on us and that that’s kind of what last year is holiday hangover episode three 95 was about it was about the sort of aftermath of being in that That situation for weeks where you have no margin and you’re just you’re you’re still trying to do everything you would you did back in October but now you have this extra layer of holiday on top of it 

Ben: [00:17:48] Yeah So we definitely need to be more gracious with ourselves And I think there’s some preemptive work we can do even even starting now to to really examine what we’ve committed to And you know the The best time to break a commitment is when it’s no longer serving your goals And it’s okay to look at the things you can see You know I have I have committed to too much here I at the time you know when I committed to doing this it was something that I actually had time for But you’ve got to you’ve got to treat your margin Um and I th I think this is Maybe the holidays kind of in a way becomes this great test for us because come into the holidays and you and you don’t go crazy but you do add some activity and that kind of thing and you find it spilling over I think that’s more a symptom of not having had enough margin in the first place Now depending on your circumstances Mmm It may be more or less difficult you know like like if we go an evening without doing our daily routine stuff like our the after dinner chores where we clean up and do dishes and that kind of throws off our rhythm And so there are some things like that where I can’t I can’t really add uh or or get margin for some of those things but I should endeavor

Make margin as important a part of maintaining our rhythm and all of those other things that we’re doing So that next year 2020 when we get to the holidays maybe we experience this craziness to a lesser degree 

Dan: [00:19:54] Right So there’s we’ve sort of talked talked about her or talked around this idea of maybe not taking on so many commitments but well you know what what are people supposed to do Ben about obligations like to your family family friends coworkers that you feel like you can’t say no to Like like you feel Yeah Cause again I said you know he got the company Christmas party on Friday but then you were supposed to you know go get together with some friends and drink eggnog on Tuesday and then you’ve got a family dinner on Thursday and if that’s all too much who do you say no to How do you say no How do you avoid coming off as one of those people who you know doesn’t go to the party 

Ben: [00:20:41] and that’s I think the part of the problem is our ability to say no in general as a holiday stuff But Not wanting to be perceived a certain way Mmm And kind of ranging from that all the way to genuinely wanting to participate in certain things So uh sometimes we need to be okay with saying no to ourselves and the things that we want to do And sometimes we need to be okay with saying no to someone else’s our our perceived idea of what someone else thinks of us 

Dan: [00:21:22] Right Right Well the it’s it’s one of those things where there’s only 24 hours in the day So if w if you really want to get your work done in the third week of December you’re going to have to disappoint a bunch of people If you don’t want to disappoint people slash you legitimately want to go to all those Christmas parties you’re going to have to accept that you’re not going to get your work done right Like you have to choose one or the other and then make your peace with it 

Ben: [00:21:48] Yeah and that is the reality but I think I think something there is at least for me um this is and this isn’t just like holiday parties but it’s certain activities uh at the beginning or like late November and we made a list of all of the things we wanted I did want to celebrate the holiday and it includes kind of things that that we’ve made traditions and Um things that we normally do anyway gatherings with friends you know so like it’s all of these things And it’s like there’s there’s kind of this mentality that if I if I don’t get to the end of the season having accomplished all of these things I didn’t uh I didn’t do it right And the thing is honestly I could cut half of this stuff out of the app And if I were intentional about being present And making the most of those experiences and focusing on the the meaningfulness of those experiences rather than the quantity of things that we that we’re able to do I think that is really what leaves us with a sense of satisfaction a sense that we’ve I guess done a good job of honoring Whatever whatever we feel this time of year is supposed to honor and celebrate And and I think I I I genuinely think most people are in that space Like they they feel an obligation to they’re the you know the spirit of the season that the their idea of what it means to S to celebrate and honor this time of year And so they They obligate themselves to activities and kind of miss the meaningfulness part of it So I want us to I want us to shift our focus away from the quantity of things that we do and focus on like what what if what if there are just three or four things that we do that are incredibly meaningful that’s enough 

Dan: [00:24:04] So to me to make it more to make it more concrete that’s like you know do one family dinner and one Evening with your friends and one time when you take your kids and look at the lights and get hot chocolate but you don’t have to do that every single day You don’t have to do it every single time The opportunity presents itself 

Ben: [00:24:25] Yeah Yeah absolutely So 

Dan: [00:24:28] that’s the sort of thing you’re saying 

Ben: [00:24:30] yeah and so like We have That’s what we do is is like I said we get hot chocolate and we go out and look at the lights and kind of hurried energy around Okay We got like well it’s hurry up and eat our dinner and we’re going to pack into the cabinets over to the Starbucks you know make sure everybody has their little stoppers so they don’t spill it all over the car And then we’re gonna go and we’re you know we’re gonna Wait in this long line of cars to see the lights and as I’m thinking about it it would be more meaningful if we were to like park our car somewhere Even just like find a neighborhood nearby go get some hot chocolate and walk around even if the lights aren’t as spectacular in some other neighborhood but just walking around as a family taking it in slowly Instead of having this you know So those are the kinds of things that I think it’s it’s good for us to examine those from time to time and and really be honest and say are we doing this Just because it’s something that we’ve done in the past and we feel obligated to it because it’s an item on our checklist 

Dan: [00:25:47] That that’s great because it’s not just about the holidays right We’re we’re talking about the uh The millennials favorite uh acronym FOMO right Fear of missing out where you know that it’s doubly it’s doubly presence at the holidays because it feels like this is the time of year If you want to go look at lights you can only do that you know this week w which then again that isn’t true Most people leave their Christmas lights up for most of the year but The focusing on the event like what everyone does is they go to Smith street and look at the lights So everyone sits in their cars in a line waiting for their opportunity to do That Doesn’t mean that you have to do that If the point of the event is to go do something as a family and feel you know the particulars of the season I think you gave a you gave a great point which is when everybody else does X You can do Y and then that can belong to you That this has always been my attitude towards uh things like Valentine’s day any sort of thing where let’s say you you and a partner or it’s the same deal for like mother’s and father’s day Any kind of event where you would want to like go with your loved ones out for a meal The point is to have a nice meal with your loved ones and to appreciate them So for example on Valentine’s day my tactic has always been I will book a restaurant reservation for like February the 10th or February the 19th any day other than when every other person in the city is at a restaurant with their loved ones Because like the day isn’t what matters The day is just an invitation to spend time with the people you love and it’s the same around this time of year 

Ben: [00:27:40] Yeah man I’m I’m totally on board with this idea that the day doesn’t matter we do this in some ways as a family Like if somebody’s birthday falls on you know the middle of the week we will still wait till the following Saturday or you know celebrate early If that makes more sense you know because cause it’s like we actually have the time to to do it the way that we really want to do it without worrying about having to take people out of school or whatever I don’t I don’t think we we should feel obligation to a specific day if it makes more sense and there’s more meaningfulness to be had out of Or you know just as much meaningfulness to be had out of something that isn’t going to crush our margins 

Dan: [00:28:31] I think that’s the important part Yeah Is focusing on the meaning Focusing on the quote like quality over quantity and focusing on ah what does it fo form over form over substance or substance over Mmm I’m I’m wandering into dangerous metaphor territory now but focusing on the why are we doing this at all Like what is actually the point of the holiday Because surely the point of the holiday is not to sit in Walmart for five hours The point is to You know give give gifts to each other as an expression of love For example like whether you whether you saved 50 bucks on the gift is is a is a distraction and it’s a distraction that we are invited to participate in But that doesn’t mean we have to participate in it 

Ben: [00:29:22] I I will I will sit in a Walmart for five hours to get a gift for myself And that’s I think An expression of self love 

Dan: [00:29:31] It’s it’s kind of like self-love mixed with self-hatred because my my my version of self love is that I don’t go I allow myself to not go anywhere near the retail during the holidays and then I look in the mirror and go I love you buddy That’s why I’m not going to the mall Uh we we didn’t get any we didn’t get any questions from the chat during the show which I take to mean that everyone in the Sean West community is is gonna nail the holidays Like they clearly don’t have done have any problems but aye Uh I saw I had sort of taken a stab at thinking what what are people probably struggling with worried about over the holidays So maybe we can look at a couple of these before we Bring this show in for a landing cause I think we’ve covered you know I think we’ve covered the big picture of focusing focusing on quality over quantity and managing managing expectations managing your commitments I’ll take this take us in one direction is travel Uh you know traveling on the holidays is a common thing People go to visit family Um my go-to strategy for traveling around the holidays is don’t But 

Ben: [00:30:48] Yeah 

Dan: [00:30:48] assuming that you have to we could talk we can talk a little bit about you know I’m I’m guessing with a with a family of half and half a dozen or more you have probably developed some tips and tricks for travel 

Ben: [00:31:03] Well so I’m I’m not prepared to like kind of put a blanket statement like you should try to avoid traveling Mmm The thing is there’s there’s something That can be very meaningful about seeing people in real life especially family that you don’t typically see at other times during the year And um or a particularly seeing all of that family together in the same place where normally like you wouldn’t all gather together like that can be incredibly meaningful And I think the calculation you want to make is is is that Is that the meaningful experience that’s worth defending over some other things You know like if if you’re trying to make a choice between doing one or the other travel might be the thing that makes it more meaningful for you 

Dan: [00:32:00] This is true So how do you survive How do you survive traveling during the holidays 

Ben: [00:32:06] Yeah So uh we actually have gotten we’ve just gotten really good at Mmm Packing light We used to we used to overpack you know like Rachel and I have our uh our special pillows that we use And 

Dan: [00:32:26] You’d pack each of your kids in a separate suitcase but now you realized that what you want to do is I got two or three of them 

Ben: [00:32:34] so like even if even if we’re going to do a multiple day stay over at someone’s house like will Instead of bringing outfits for every single day we’ll just bring a couple enough that’ll fit in a backpack that the you know the kids Oh and you gotta you gotta teach the kids as early as possible how to pack their own stuff And you have to be okay with them not doing a great job at that They’re not gonna they’re not gonna match their clothes You know like like you got to let some of that stuff go But But now it’s like okay we’re going to we’re going to be there for a few days We’re just going to bring a couple of outfits and we’ll do laundry when we need to And and everybody’s cool with that you know Um so I think I think a lot of a lot of what a lot of stress that comes from travel is um is is feeling like It’s this bigger thing than it really has to be And I and I think part of having a big family has taught us how to be the how to not be too Mmm Picky about like what we you know like we just we just bring the essentials and and that’s it And we’re good And because really like it doesn’t matter whether or not you had that perfect outfit for you know like Or It’s okay if your pillow wasn’t like the same pillow that you use at home like you’re going to be sleeping on a different bed or maybe even on the couch anyway Like let yourself well make it easy on yourself Mmm When it comes to the logistics of traveling And and that’s I guess the best advice I can give But then in terms of like whether or not to travel I really I really don’t think anybody should feel obligated to you know like if it’s if it’s a particularly busy season I know it’s it’s hard because especially you know as as some of your loved ones get older There there is kind of the sense of like well we you know they’re not always going to be around and we should take advantage of every opportunity and and so on the one hand like yeah I think I think it’s good to try to take advantage of those opportunities when you can but but if you’re feeling a sense of obligation and that’s the only reason you’re going and it’s not because it’s something that’s meaningful Or brings joy You know like I I think it’s worth reconsidering whether or not you need to travel especially when there are so many other things uh potentially going on 

Dan: [00:35:30] Yeah that’s that’s true And you know we really can’t we get into these things on the podcast where we can give advice and we can’t like you know if you have if you have like family members that you don’t I don’t particularly like But they expect you to go visit them at the holiday is like we can’t give you some kind of blanket advice for how to manage that Like we can’t tell you you should cut your second cousins out of your life or something like that But uh but assuming that you do assuming that you do decide to travel I think again there’s there’s it comes back to something we talked about before as well which is To the extent that you can be flexible about when and where and how and not feeling like you have to do everything to the letter So you know let’s say well you know so Christmas is an example Christmas happens on a particular day but if it’s a matter of getting your whole family onto a plane and traveling across the country maybe you and your uh relatives who live elsewhere just decide that you know for us we’re going to celebrate Christmas as a family on The 29th or the 22nd or something like that because that’s the best way to make it work 

Ben: [00:36:41] Yeah 

Dan: [00:36:41] You know that that that might be hard to to get into because it’s unconventional but it could also it could also make things a lot easier you know I mean the the because again there’s that thing trying to do things when everyone else is also doing them adds a whole extra level of stress Right And we’ve anyone who’s tried to travel around the holidays has experienced that You know you have to wait longer for everything Lines are longer Schedules are tighter I you know we were talking about travel tips One thing that I’ve tried to start doing and you know you can only do this to the extent you can afford to but I’ve decided that like to the extent that I can afford to I’m going to prioritize like not being in a rush over Saving small amounts of money So as an example I’ve I’ve all I’ve generally and I think most people are like this when you go to book a flight somewhere you put in the dates that you want to fly and then the website uh spits out a bunch of flights and it orders them in descending order by price and you pick whatever the flight is that it has the lowest price and then you grit your teeth and deal with the fact that that flight has three layovers and it leaves at six in the morning 

Ben: [00:37:56] Yeah that’s that’s how that’s how I usually do it and it’s I always always regret it 

Dan: [00:38:03] Well this is the thing So and again like not obviously not everyone is going to be in this position I’m not necessarily in this position all the time but but I’ve decided that to the extent I can if I could spend like and and to put it in perspective flights especially flights across Canada are very very expensive compared to flights in the United States Mmm And I’ve decided that if if uh if say a round trip airfare is going to cost $800 and I could spend an extra 152 have a much easier itinerary with say no stopovers and I leave at one in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning that’s worth the money to me You know And then again like multiply it out if you have kids and and you know you can’t necessarily afford to do what I just said but to the extent that you can uh you know or possibly flying on different days that are less uh that are less in demand doing little things like that can make an enormous difference in your ability to enjoy traveling 

Ben: [00:39:08] Yeah And and it’s also okay to ask people to come to you You know if if you have if you’re going through a busy season at work or you have other commitments that really make it difficult for you to travel but you still really want to see those people Uh it it might be worth just bringing it up and saying Hey I really want to see everybody And you know like depending on your situation but like with for example with uh my parents and Rachel’s parents they have they have their jobs and they have their commitments and stuff but it’s a lot easier for them to make arrangements and break commitments to come and visit us Than it is for us to all pack up and go to them and and so every once in awhile you know that’s the conversation is Hey I know we usually go over there We usually do such and such It would really make it a lot less stressful on us this year If you guys could come over here we’ll host you know and posting is its own kind of like that’s a whole other conversation too Because because people people have much lower expectations then I think we have of ourselves as hosts But um but I digress It’s it’s okay to ask people to come to you 

Dan: [00:40:45] Yeah it is And you you might need to when it comes to things like this you know you might need to plan ahead right If you’re asking people to make travel plans you know this might be a discussion you have to have with your friends and relatives in May or June and not in November or December but it’s worth it’s worth that kind of planning ahead right If it’s going to save you the stress of Oh man the holidays are coming how are we going to pack all our kids into suitcases and get out there 

Ben: [00:41:14] Yeah It really helps too to get the kind of like there are those rigid body suitcases you know that like they they just they only have so much space and that’s it I prefer the the kind of cloth suitcases now they like they expand well so they kind of as your child grows it can kind of grow with them The only problem is it’s You know there’s not as much padding and protection in case the suitcase falls or gets thrown around or something But otherwise you know like I feel like that can work really well So just a pro parenting tip right there 

Dan: [00:41:56] Right That’s excellent I think that’s the kind of that’s the kind of really sort of actionable tactics that people tune into this to this show for Ben So uh so I mean we we’ve talked about getting the uh Focusing on quality during the holiday is managing your schedule We’ve talked about some things dealing with family we’ve talked about travel Are there any other big points that we should hit on before we call it a show or have we uh you know have we equipped people to survive the holidays 

Ben: [00:42:25] Yeah I mean I would I would just say this show is coming out in the midst of the 2019 holiday season and hopefully you know some of these things are are Actionable valuable and actionable for you now as you are going through this season But also I want you to be thinking ahead like your your ability to continue to stay focused and and get things done and stay more or less in your routines Um and in the 2020 holiday season begins with your commitment Now Two making sure that you manage your margin to making sure that you don’t over commit yourself to to thinking ahead to those things And and so you know like it’s it’s never too early to begin the process of preparing for those seasons as they come up whether it’s the holiday season or some other you know busy season that comes upon you you you Um you’ll you’ll always fair better when you’ve given yourself purposefully giving yourself the proper amount of margin and also giving yourself I think the proper amount of grace four Um you know what you expect of yourself in certain circumstances You’re not you’re not a superhero You’re human And that’s okay 

Dan: [00:44:02] Margin grace and mulled wine is also good If you’re all that way make sure you you try some of that 

Ben: [00:44:09] What is it with you What is it with you in the mulled wine 

Dan: [00:44:12] It’s delicious I love it and I look forward to it every year 

Ben: [00:44:16] Okay I guess I’ll I’ll try some 

Dan: [00:44:18] You should You should try some 

Ben: [00:44:20] and then we’ll have a holiday hangover show 2019 

Dan: [00:44:23] we have a different different holiday hangover show Different different kinds than last year Ben you want to wrap this up 

Ben: [00:44:29] Dan where can people go to find us online 

Dan: [00:44:33] We can go to Shawn and we’ve got shows We got courses we got membership You join join the Sean West membership You can listen in to shows like this one Ask questions get them answered We have a podcast that we do every Monday called fired up Mondays That’s just just a private show just for members where you can ask questions and it’s pretty great In fact that’s that’s sort of where the top today’s topic came out of came out of doing that show Uh you also get access to all our courses $7,500 worth supercharge your writing 30 days to better writing We really like writing here at John West’s You get value based pricing and presale profits I could go on and on and on but I won’t uh go to dot com and check it out We’d we’d love to see you here 

Ben: [00:45:19] Yeah definitely check it out And Dan where can they find you online 

Dan: [00:45:23] Well first I’m going to ask you Ben where can they find you online 

Ben: [00:45:27] See I was trying to flip it around cause he always asked me first Now that’s okay You can find and I am at Ben Tolson on all of the things All right fine Dan where can they find you online 

Dan: [00:45:40] Got to follow the rules Ben you can find and I am at DJ Jacobson author on some of the things Yeah Well some of them just on the right things Exactly

So Ben uh Michelle in the chat is trying something new today She is asking questions at the very end of the show instead of at the beginning 

Ben: [00:46:46] Oh wow That’s it Yeah That’s interesting 

Dan: [00:46:48] Yeah 

Ben: [00:46:49] I like it 

Dan: [00:46:50] I mean I like it too I like it too It’s not a great way to actually get your questions answered on the show but uh but now it’s the after show so we we could we could try to try to tackle this question if we wanted to 

Ben: [00:47:04] You know what I work in a devote the after show to Michelle’s question 

Dan: [00:47:11] Now Michelle I don’t want you to take the wrong lesson from this I don’t want you to think that this means that you should ask your questions at the end of the show instead of in the hour before the show that we specially set aside for asking questions But uh but you know whatever works right 

Ben: [00:47:28] Let’s not give Michelle a hard 

Dan: [00:47:30] No I know I’m I’m sorry Michelle We’re mostly just teasing you but it but it’s a good question Here it is Do you have tips for transitioning back to work or normal routines after the holidays I find that I have several days of feeling disoriented when it’s time to go back Yeah 

Ben: [00:47:48] So I think I think for I mean this is this is natural It’s something that everybody experiences to some degree Mmm I think that what I’ve experienced is the more Mmm The more consistent I’ve been with my habits and routines at other times the more quickly I tend to snap back into those things But one of the things that really helps me because it’s not you know it’s not just during the holidays Every once in awhile I go through Um I’ll go through a rut you know like something something will come up I we went through something recently that was really difficult as a family and I have I have what I call anchor habits and it’s just a handful of things that no matter what no matter what’s going on I always at least try to do those things No matter where I am um whether you know whether I’m at home or I’m traveling and and I find that he you know like even even of those few things I may fail to maintain all of them but even if I can hang on to just one it kind of it makes my transition back into my normal routine that much easier And so for example an anchor routine might be Spending the first 30 minutes of your day writing or spending the first 10 minutes of your day meditating or you know doing some form of exercise Um it you know it could be it could be any number of things Uh even even something like you know having a morning cup of coffee that’s a little bit easier because it’s it’s really pleasant and you know but 

Dan: [00:49:49] it’s delicious So I wouldn’t you do that 

Ben: [00:49:52] Why Yeah Why why wouldn’t you do that But but that’s I guess that that’s like the best way I can answer that question is um really at the times when you don’t have a lot of other stuff going on really focused on trying to be consistent with some habits and then identify just a few anchor habits that are things that you We’ll commit to doing no matter what 

Dan: [00:50:23] Well that’s great advice And I’m going to drop a little more science on the anchor habits thing because uh this is something that Sean John taught me about and it took a while It was one of those magic of seven things where he had to kind of explain it to me a bunch of different times before I started to get it Cause I I have these habits that I’m trying to keep track of and I use an app an app called streaks which is just a nice kind of iPhone app that lets you Tap on a thing and say yeah I did this today and then it tells you yeah you’ve done this for 60 days in a row and I I would struggle to keep up with the habits and what I needed explained to me multiple times and Sean told me about it It’s also in the book atomic habits by James clear which we’ve talked about a lot this year since it came out the important thing is not the results of having done whatever your habit is And I’ll I’ll drop some examples in a second The important thing is just to have tick the box but this feels counter intuitive And so this was the problem I always had was that if you say every day I’m going to spend 30 minutes writing but it’s but you’re struggling to spend 30 minutes writing you stop writing Because if I didn’t spend 30 minutes you know then I didn’t do it Or if you say well I’m going to write a thousand words If you only write 800 words you go well I didn’t write a thousand words No you don’t do this anymore Both But that’s missing the point The point is to write every day So what you have to do and this is going to be difficult because it feels like cheating or it feels like it’s not making a difference is you have to make your implementation of the habit so simple that you can never fail to do it So Sean used the example of stretching because that’s one of his habits that he’s maintained He’s maintained a streak of stretching for like a couple of hundred days But here’s what he he he let me in on a secret He said you know I started off doing like a four minute stretching routine and eventually he moved that all the way up till he was spending like 90 minutes a day stretching And for him it was because he was rehabbing our running injury wanting to get back into running And Sean recently did he did a half marathon So like he’s got to keep himself in shape Stretching’s a really important part of that But here’s what he said He said if there’s a day where you know I just had calls every single day and I was out in a and the next thing you know it’s like 9:00 PM and I haven’t stretched yet I will bend over and touch my toes for 10 seconds and then tick the box Because because all that matters is you ticked the box like yeah 10 10 seconds is not as good as 90 minutes doesn’t matter So the thing with these anchor habits and the way you can make sure you don’t lose them Is to make them so small that you tick the box every day and again it’s gonna feel wrong It’s gonna feel like cheating It’s going to feel like you’re missing the point but you’re not the goal of the anchor habits Because remember the context of this whole thing is how do I get back to a normal routine The way to get back to a normal routine at least one of the ways is to have these little things that you can keep consistent even during the holidays So even though you’re not getting a lot of work done let’s say during December do do something some little thing Even if it’s just like let’s say you’re you’re like an illustrator or graphic designer and you can’t ship a design everyday during the holidays but still make like one tiny thing just like open Photoshop create a new file and like I dunno use the color fill tool and then save it Or something like that you know whatever it is just just to make sure that you don’t lose that anchor habit 

Ben: [00:54:07] Yeah I love that because it really it really can throw us off if If we put too much expectation on our accomplishment of habit in a certain way and you know like failing to meet that that kind of arbitrary expectation has this defeating effect in our minds So yeah I mean that’s that’s super helpful I love that Just Just reach down and touch your toes for 10 seconds That still counts And the thing is like that might be all you could do that day but I think there’s a difference between you know like having expectations of yourself and feeling satisfied with your effort I think that over the course of several days eventually you would End up getting back to doing a bigger version of that thing You know like something more comprehensive along longer than a ten second stretch because you’re just not satisfied with only doing 10 seconds and because you’ve been able to maintain something every day You’ve given yourself the momentum you need to grow back into where you’d like to be with that habit I like that a lot 

Dan: [00:55:38] Yeah I think that’s the that’s the key because you’re you’re not trying to you’re not trying to like do the thing right that you’re trying to you’re trying to reinforce your identity as a person who does whatever it is Right And so so the problem is you go through the holidays and you stop writing or stretching or exercising or or graphic designing you start to lose your grip on that identity of I am a I am a person who does this I’m a graphic designer I’m a writer And by just by just keeping that pilot light on if you like making sure that that light doesn’t go out once you have the time and the opportunity to get back to half an hour of writing or 90 minutes of stretching or whatever it is for you You’ve still got that identity of well of course I’m going to do this because I’m the kind of person who does this See I have a streak of a hundred days of doing it 

Ben: [00:56:33] Yeah It’s good stuff 

Dan: [00:56:35] Yeah Good show sir