December Can Be a Challenge for the Type A Athlete

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Mindset

Personally, I find December to be one of the trickiest months. Often, I feel like I’m being pulled in three distinct directions—which is par for the course, but in December, the feeling is extremely exacerbated. The holiday season makes me want to lean into holiday cheer and traditions and cozy time with family. The last month of the year, though, makes me want to be in full-time goal setting mode for both work and sport, while at the same time trying to finish the year strong. But as one guest on my new podcast (yes, there’s also the whole ‘I started a new show in November’ thing adding to the December rush this year) reminded me, January 1 is entirely arbitrary, especially when you’re someone like me who isn’t balancing a company’s EOY budget. (I mean, sure, there’s some meaning to Jan 1, but for most people, it’s not really a major change, just a day when your books roll over to the next year.)

So, where am I struggling? I wanted to share this on here, because I have to believe that I’m not the only one who stresses out (and stresses out about NOT being stressed out) at this time of year.

Finding the balance…

between striving and relaxing

December 31 is coming. Will I feel like 2022 is a success, or will I feel frazzled and behind as the clock strikes midnight? I want to spend time relaxing with friends and family, but shouldn’t I be getting more work done, or more training in while there isn’t snow on the ground?

between hustle and hygge

I’ve written about how hard it is to hygge as an athlete—something about being goal-oriented and wearing technical fabrics for much of the day makes cozying up by the fireplace tricky. And this time of year, the hygge-iest time, is also the most connected with hustling. Even as I block off my schedule to not take calls for the holiday week, I’m vacillating between saying that it’s time to spend with family versus time to focus on some of the behind-the-scenes business stuff we don’t always make time for.

between training long and working long

Especially with the holidays where we’re starting to have friend, family and travel plans enter the equation, training versus work can be tricky. I know a lot of people don’t have this option, and to be clear, some of my work stuff is more non-negotiable than my training, always! But there are plenty of gray areas: Getting ahead on an article or getting an interview done versus getting a run in, or doing my normal strength routine, for instance.

between making plans and letting things unfold

Patience is NOT one of my virtues, and this one is a huge one for me this year in particular. I have a potentially big project *maybe* starting as soon as this week, but maybe won’t actually come to fruition at all. I have a couple of speaking things that might be happening in the new year but aren’t confirmed. And like many of you reading this, there are a few race registrations and lotteries I’m waiting on before I can really nail down my 2023 schedule. I am *not* great at waiting. I want to have plans made yesterday, but this one is completely out of my control and I find it extremely difficult.

For some of these balance points, the answer can (and should) be both. For others, it’s not quite so simple. But I’m trying to find the middle ground on a lot of these pieces.

I know that the best balance for me in December is going to tricky. It won’t really be balance, to be honest. (Remember our guest Pierre Quinn on that topic!)

But there can be a bit of prioritization that I put in place, like:

  • Actually being present for family/friend occasions. No phones at dinner tables, no phones out on Christmas morning, and being fully committed to when we are in relationship-mode.
  • Focusing during work time. I mean, this should be an all-the-time thing, obviously, but during these couple weeks ahead of the big holiday block, getting through the to-do list versus putting off the ‘important but not urgent’ stuff needs to be prioritized.
  • Getting intentional about the ‘hustle.’ I often have a grand vision of working on our 2023 goals and plans and doing web updates and whatnot in that 12/24-1/1 time, but often, I’m so amorphous about what we’ll actually get done that week that I end up not getting anything accomplished! This year, I want to head into that planning week with, ironically, a plan.
  • Training, but not being dogmatic about it. I have Very Big Scary Goals for the next two years. But taking a fairly relaxed approach to this month to allow for travel days and family hangouts and Christmas where I’m not stressed about getting in a 12-miler if I don’t have the time or would rather watch The Muppets again? Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to tank my goals entirely.

Let us know in the comments: What’s your biggest issue in December? Do any of these ring true for you?


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