Each month I use my planner to complete a monthly review, an idea I “borrowed” from the iBloom planner team. The review is a great way to take stock of where I am personally and professionally versus where I desire to be. Based upon the original idea, I have four categories:
- what went well
- what could have gone differently
- what needs to change
- what relationships will I invest in (and specifically what investment I will make)
The first two categories are slam-dunks. I either hit my numbers or I did not. I posted, I sold, I worked out, I did…or I fell short. (Incidentally, blogging could have happened differently in November–one post? ?!! Geesh!! Between health challenges and the usual busy-ness that accompanies the holidays, when I looked up, it was December).
The last two categories challenge me. Change is difficult, and if truth be told, without tremendous effort, the items that need to change month-to-month remain the same. So each month, I find myself working on me and the habits that will not let me be great. Like the fact that I procrastinate like crazy when tasks are unfamiliar. Or the fact that I don’t awaken before the household gets busy as consistently as I would like.
Investing in relationships is where this whole review process is most meaningful–if I give careful thought and prayer to the task and not trivialize where I can help. As an example, with the Christmas holidays fast approaching us, the kids obviously expect gifts. Plainly stated, they want money as a gift so that they can buy their own gifts. To give them money would be–literally–investing in them during the month of December.
But that is the trivial investment (even if our bank account respectfully disagrees).
Investing in a relationship with the oldest this month includes an understanding that she will not join us until after Christmas. She was not able to be here on Thanksgiving. But she did mention that she missed my cooking. So I intentionally called to ask her what she wanted to eat while here, and was there anything she wanted to do. It’s not money, nor is it much, but it’s a way of saying, “You’re special to me, and I would like to do something kind just for you.”
Investing in the youngest will require stamina as she pursues all of her dance-related interests and teen girl passions. ‘Tis the season…for everyone to watch movies in pjs, have holiday parties (I am on my third batch of Chex mix in less than two weeks), and do all the running around that we can stand since she can’t yet drive. Oy.
But, come January, she will be a part-time college student, so somewhere in between all the “kickbacks” is the need for a firm, but gentle hand from her parents/home educators in making sure that she is in place for a new and more challenging season of life.
Our son did make it home for Thanksgiving, and I cooked his favorite, mac n’ cheese. But as he advances in his professional career, he has his debut performance in “The Nutcracker” this holiday season, which will keep him away from us, and maybe a bit lonely (though he would never admit that) until almost Christmas Eve. He needs our support, our encouragement, our smiles and “well done’s” when he steps off that stage, because I imagine he might be a little nervous (though he would never admit that, either).
My husband needs a date, however short and/or sweet, with his best girlfriend (that’d be me, less you think I am advocating a “side piece”), and loving arms while he ministers to his ailing mom.
I challenge you, friends, as I challenge myself, to make real investments in those closest to you during this season. The luster of a tangible gift will fade, but in the words of the late, great Maya Angelou, “they will never forget how you made them feel.”