How to Change Expectations During the Holidays or Anytime

“We’re going to have to cut back on Christmas this year.”

I heard that statement several times when I was growing up.  One instance I vividly remember is when my dad was out of work due to a strike at his factory.  I think I was maybe 10 or 11 years old.  Christmas was a bit slim that year.  And yet, somehow I survived!

Sadly, as an adult, I’ve known more than a few people who, even when times are tough, insist on giving their kids a “good Christmas,” whatever that means.  For them, it means spending as much (or maybe even more) on gifts for their kids this year as they would have in “good” years.

Maybe they thought it was important to do that so their kids wouldn’t feel deprived.  But what  happened?  They might have a nice Christmas morning, but then they don’t have the money to pay the rent or mortgage on January 1st, or they get that big credit card bill in the mail and have no way to pay it off.  Then, instead of Christmas joy, they’re faced with fear and stress.

I didn’t think much of it when I was a kid, but as an adult, I realized that my parents gave me an extra gift that year.  They changed my expectations.  And I believe that helped us all to have a “good” Christmas.

Because they told me that times were tight and that they couldn’t afford to buy many gifts that year, I was able to adjust my expectations, and also my wants and desires.  Instead of having a Christmas list with 20 big things on it, I narrowed it down to just a few inexpensive things that I would really appreciate and enjoy the most.

I also learned a real-life lesson:  sometimes, we have to make changes and choices.  I learned that I could participate in my family’s long-term financial success by being OK with simple gifts.

I’m writing about this as part of my “How to Survive the Holidays” series, but the principle works any time of the year  Whenever you want to make change in your life, you need to change both your expectations, and the expecations of all those who will be impacted.

Whether it is a decision to go back to school, get a second job, cut back on entertainment expenses, ask the kids to help out more, change your job to something more meaningful, changes need to be made.  It can’t be “business as usual” anymore.

So how do you help people change their expectations?

  • First, it is important thing you need to do is help them see the big picture – the long-term goal or reason you’re making the change.
  • Second, help them see how they can help contribute positively to the change – how they can make a difference.
  • Third, plan some kind of reward or way to celebrate once the goal has been achieved.

For some people, kids especially, it can be hard to accept that things need to change or be different.  But I think you’ll improve your chances of success by following these simple steps.  If you have any other ideas, or comments, please be sure to share them below.

You might also like…
How to Survive the Holidays and Maintain Balance
How to Beat Holiday Stress and Busyness
How to Enjoy Holiday Food Without the Weight Gain
13 Ways to Save Money & Beat the Stress of Holiday Shopping & Gift Giving

Speak Your Mind