40% of Americans Say Bah Humbug to Holiday Traditions

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32% would be happier taking a vacation rather than visiting their family. 36% would be happier doing laundry rather than sending out holiday cards. 19% would be happier watching Rudolph rather than attending a family holiday dinner.

In a year where the holiday spirit has been heard through the radio far before Thanksgiving, a survey conducted by the Gail Kasper consulting group, a leading speaking and coaching organization, found that 40% of Americans are just going through the holiday motions rather than enjoying fun family holiday traditions. Have the holidays lost their meaning?

Supporting these results, the survey, which was completed by a random group of 104 adults over 18, also asked participants whether they would be happier doing everyday activities rather than participate in holiday traditions.    

Of these scenarios:

•32% would be happier taking a vacation rather than visiting their family

•36% would be happier doing laundry rather than sending out holiday cards

•19% would be happier watching Rudolph rather than attending a family holiday dinner.

Money a Major Issue

Another aspect of the survey asked respondents to rate their level of depression with respect to specific life situations on a scale of 1-10. The situations varied from the “war in Iraq” to “being alone for the holidays” to “birthdays.” Interestingly enough, “being alone for the holidays” or even “dealing with a routine stunted life” didn’t create the compelling emotional effect that “lack of money to purchase gifts” had on the American public.

The survey found that “lack of money to purchase gifts” affects Americans much more than the “war in Iraq,” “being alone for the holidays,” or “not taking action on personal goals,” respectively, while “visiting family for the holidays” and “birthdays” were lowest on the list reflecting very little emotional investment or concern.

Here’s the stats:

Lack of money to purchase gifts 5.5

War in Iraq 5.0

Being alone 4.4

Not taking action on personal goals 4.0

Visiting family 1.6

Birthdays 1.8

“Whatever our reasons, with the holidays upon us, it is so important that we keep our spirits up and remember the true meaning of the holidays,” says Gail Kasper, time management and motivational strategist. “Just going through the ‘motions,’ whether with the holidays or in life, is a destructive negative pattern and needs a conscious effort to break that pattern.” Gail Kasper, author of the recently released life strategy audio program, Make a Decision to Win, suggests these 7 simple steps.

1. Think positive. Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to “just go through the motions?” When you sit and think about it, going through the motions just isn’t good enough. You deserve more….so tell yourself, “I deserve more and it’s not going to be ‘just’ another holiday season. I am going to make it a “great” holiday season.”

2. Create a vision. Think back to one of your favorite holiday celebrations. What happened? What made it special? If you can’t think of a special holiday, design your own. Just as you need a vision for your life, you need a vision for the holidays. Imagine your perfect holiday. What would be happening? How would the decorations look? What would be served for the holiday dinner? Who would you spend time with during the holiday season? What things would you like to do? When it’s all said and done, how do “you” want to feel?

3. Set a holiday budget and stick to it. A beautiful vision needs to be based in reality – what’s affordable. Decide the budget. Use decorations from past years. Have everyone contribute and bring a dish to the holiday dinner. Eliminate the idea of purchasing presents for everyone, have a Pollyanna. This will not only save money, but time and stress. Give a budget to children so that they can prioritize gifts they really “want.” Set financial ground rules. The first year my husband and I were married, money was very tight so instead of picking a Pollyanna, we shared one. Homemade gifts, home baked cookies, etc. or a sentimental gift will create warmth and doesn’t have a price tag. Financially, do only what makes sense for you, don’t succumb to retail and self-imposed pressures.

4. Write a plan. Now that you have a budget, write down the plan. This is where your holiday vision becomes a reality. When you go through the motions, or live life on automatic pilot, it causes a “reactive” response. You say to yourself: “Ooops the holiday is next week, I better get to the mall.” This is how the days slip away - and in life, this is how the years slip away. It’s time to change the pattern and become “proactive.”

Write down what decorations really need to be purchased and when you will buy them. For a family dinner, write down what you will serve and when you will purchase the groceries. Is there someplace you would like to visit for the holidays – downtown to see the holiday lights, a favorite restaurant or holiday party? Use your daily planning system and identify “what you need to do” and “when you will do these tasks.” Be specific. When you write down a plan, you not only change the course of your life, but you change how you view your life…and you become more content.

5. Include friends and family. It’s easy to focus on “making everything perfect,” rather than focus on “including loved ones.” “Making everything perfect” creates a terrific “process,” but negates an extraordinary “experience.” The holidays are about an “experience” not a “process,” so when putting a plan together, include loved ones – whether its decorating, baking, shopping, dinners, or party planning. Create an “experience” with family and friends. When you do this, the crooked tree, a few burnt cookies, or that one light that can’t seem to be found in the strand just doesn’t matter. The holidays become fun.

6. Have a stress outlet. What can you do to feel better about yourself? Survey results indicated that people almost always felt more positive being around family. These results were followed by “exercise” and “achieving excellence in an area of life.” Have a game plan when the holidays become overwhelming. Ask yourself, “what makes you feel positive about you?” and then schedule the time to do that activity, whether it’s visiting your family, going to the gym, or working on your personal goals. Feel good about yourself.

7. Be confident in you. The greatest thing about the holidays is “you.” You have created an incredible impact in the lives of those who surround you regardless of whether you have money, you’ve made the best holiday dish, or have thrown the best party. Worrying about what isn’t “right” or “perfect” will prevent you from being able to give and be present for others. Be confident in “you.” The more confident you are in you, the more strength you will bring to others, particularly those who may be having a difficult holiday. What you will find is that you’re no longer going through the motions, you’re enjoying each minute.

Gail Kasper is an internationally renowned motivational strategist. Multi-billion dollar companies, top CEOs, associations, Ivy league universities and professional sports teams have adopted Gail’s ideas, leadership techniques and sales programs to increase performance and achievement. She is the author of the life strategy audio CD program, Make a Decision to Win.

Gail is the former Mrs. New Jersey America 2002 and has co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America’s TV JobNetwork (airing on CBS and Fox). She currently hosts The Visitor’s Channel. Coupling a business degree with psychology studies Gail is a nationally recognized certified trainer. For more information please visit http://www.gailkasper.com.

For survey results and holiday tips, please visit: http://www.gailkasper.com/2005survey

To arrange an interview or appearance with Gail Kasper, please contact:

Laine Latimer 503-859-2299 [email protected]


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