christmas tree

Image by milele via Flickr

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Christmas Day is looming fast and will be here before we know it.

My wife and I have started our Christmas shopping and always aim to get it done before the start of December each year.  It’s always a nice feeling to have the presents wrapped and stored away until the big day.

However, I’m conscious that many people scramble around at the last minute, fighting for parking spots and desperately deciding what to buy for their friends and family without a list, a budget or anything distantly resembling a plan.

For people in this situation, Christmas goes from being a great celebration to becoming an additional, unnecessary stress.  They dread the whole experience, it sits over their head like a black cloud in the few weeks preceding the big day and then they’re relieved when it’s over.

It doesn’t have to be like that and I don’t think that it should be like that.  With some careful planning and early action, Christmas Day can become the day of joy, celebration, reflection and quality family time that it has been designed for.

As I considered this recently, it struck me that the principles of planning and action is appropriate for virtually any deadline that we are involved with.

Too often, we (or should I say “I”) leave things to the last minute.  We know that the deadline is looming and feel the pressure of the date in our calendar, but we don’t act until we absolutely have to.

We place unnecessary pressure on ourselves, work frantically at the last minute and probably don’t do as good a job as we could have if we had planned our time better and took action earlier.

I understand that deadlines are often necessary to encourage us to take action.  It was jazz legend Duke Ellington who said, “Without a deadline baby, I wouldn’t do nothin’.”

However, you don’t have to wait until the 24th of December to do something.

Get it done early and take a lot of pressure off.  Be one of the few who sit back and relax while the majority scurry around, unable to enjoy what they’re doing.

Great work isn’t done by people who meet the deadline by 15 minutes.  It’s done by those who plan and take decisive action without the added pressure of a timeline.

And Christmas isn’t meant to be a time spent stressed and worried.  It’s meant to be a time celebrating the good news of the birth of Jesus and relaxing with family and friends.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

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