So we’ve reached the end of the “Holiday Season” – radio stations have stopped playing Christmas music 24/7 and stores are now displaying stuff for Valentine’s Day. In the United States, this season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s Eve. For some, like me, the big event is Christmas while for others it’s a different holiday such as Hanukah or Kwanzaa. If you’re heavily involved with the planning of activities related to these special days, you may have noticed yourself feeling a little bummed out once the big climax has happened.
I first realized this when I was watching the Christmas concert that my church puts on the weekend before Christmas each year. I have a family member in the choir so I know how much work was put into it — they start practicing at the end of September and practice several hours a week until the concert is held. While I enjoyed the concert, I felt sad once it was over. I guess I just hate it when good things come to an end.
Life is full of situations like this. TV shows (including miniseries), vacations, school years, college – events in practically every stage of our lives must come to an end no matter how much we enjoy them. Life is about moving forward and that can be either a good thing or a bad thing. It’s really up to you. The trick is to use this to your advantage.
First, you need to understand yourself and the way you work. I absolutely love vacationing – it doesn’t matter where I go, I just find it exciting to be in a new environment creating new experiences. It’s not that I hate being home, I enjoy my normal life and long for times where I can sit on my bed or couch and just watch TV. But for me, I enjoy vacationing and planning the vacation so much that my emotional state steeply declines when it ends.
I’ve learned that when the anticipation is longer, the decline is steeper. When you spend months looking forward to a big trip and then it’s over in a few days, you tend to feel a bit down afterwards. Growing up, I used to go to ranch in New York with a big group of friends and family. We’d all be excited as that third week of July approached (we went the same week each year) and have a blast on vacation. We had so much fun, that we didn’t want to leave and I’d be lying if I were to say that there weren’t a lot of tears shed the morning that we all would leave.
You’ve probably experienced this with a vacation, party or other event. The anticipation just builds and builds and then it happens. And you have a blast. And in a blink of an eye, it’s all over. So what do you do? Not get excited? Not plan and think about it? No way.
The key here is to always have something big on the horizon. Weddings are the perfect example of this working automatically – for the lucky couple that is. Many brides spend up to two years planning everything out. There’s the showers, meeting with vendors, registering for gifts, rehearsals, dinners and the wedding itself. You will never plan for an event as much as you will for a wedding.
But after the wedding, there are still things on the horizon. So after the couple has their last dance and has left the hall, they have something big to look forward to. Get your mind out of the gutter (but I’ll give you the after-wedding night activities as something to look forward to), I’m talking about the honeymoon. This is usually a nice trip somewhere special that the couple has splurged on. It’s something to be psyched about. Then they get back from the trip and it’s time to get back to normal life, but even this is exciting. They get to return to their jobs and tell their colleagues and associates about the wedding and life as a married person. Then they start looking into their family goals such as whether it’s time to move to somewhere or start planning for a baby. So the natural progression of things gives you something to always look forward to.
So how can you do this? Try to always have a few things planned to look forward to and as soon as something you’re excited about is going to happen, start the planning process for something else. So if you have a big vacation planned, set a date for another one before the first one is over. You could also plan a special party with people you miss and haven’t seen in a while or plan a girls/guys night out.
It doesn’t have to be all pleasure either. Plan to attend or speak at a big conference. Set up a meeting or presentation with an important client. Plan an informal get together with business associates. Or even set a goal that you’re excited about achieving (and don’t forget to set a new one right before you get there).
Managing your mood is critical for your success and life is about making memories. So by always having something to look forward to on the horizon, you can have the best of both worlds.