Imagine it’s January 8th. You’re back in the office, sitting at your desk, reading through emails and checking items off your to-do list. You’ve successfully gotten back into the swing of things, and yet you can’t stop thinking about the holidays. Just last night at the family dinner table, everyone agreed that this had been the best holiday season anyone could remember.
But wait, it’s only December 10th!
Most of us plan from where we are, looking forward. That’s normal. Sometimes it would be more useful to plan from the future back to today. Like solving a children’s maze puzzle, it’s faster and you make fewer wrong moves if you go to the center of the maze and then work your way back to the beginning.
I recommend that you consider this approach in thinking about the holidays. Design backwards from the desired outcome to create the necessary conditions.
Here’s how you plan backward from a desired future:
- Start by imagining the conversation among family members after the holidays are over, then ask this question: What 10 things made this holiday the best ever? Perhaps:
- everyone got time for what they wanted to do
- no one felt left out
- the work got distributed more evenly than normal
- we found something each day for everyone to be involved in
- Then ask yourself this question: What conditions would almost guarantee these outcomes if the conditions were in place?
- if we knew what everyone wanted to find time for
- if we didn’t make any arbitrary decisions without asking others
- if we asked for what we wanted instead of hinting
- Then ask yourself: What’s needed to make sure those conditions are in place?
- asking everyone to list three things they want to do
- having the conversation early about what’s most important to each of us
- giving people permission to take care of themselves
These won’t be your exact answers, but you get the idea. Whatever you come up will get you close to what you can do today to make sure the holidays turn out to be special.
The holidays hold such promise for wonderful times with our friends and family. We can – and should – plan so that they will turn out as we hope. It’s as simple as taking a few moments now to decide what you want, and then being intentional about producing that future. Clarity and action—powerful stuff!
Who can you have a conversation with now to ensure that next couple of weeks create the memories that will last a life time?