By Jessica Lanning, JD, CFP®


The holiday season is here.  This should catch no one by surprise.  Yet, it does.

I learned long ago to manage my energy amid all the craziness – the parties, the shopping, the spending, the sugar, the alcohol, the daylight hours getting shorter, driving in the rain at night, additional Uber expenses, and everything else that gets thrown my way this time of year.

People frequently say to me, usually before wanting to ask a favor, “I know it’s the end of the year and you must be so busy.”  

They are surprised when I say, “No. I’m not any busier than usual.”  

I can hear my colleagues seething with jealousy from here.  

The End of the Year Happens Every Year

I have managed to keep my work life and the rest of my life manageable because — get this — I plan for it.  

December comes every year. 

I know what I can handle and what I can’t; what I want to make happen and what I don’t.  I’ve gone from being shocked at Christmas stuff being sold during Halloween to being thankful that I’m reminded to get things off my list early. 

I’ve also learned to cut myself a break. 

My holiday cards are out typically on Thanksgiving weekend.  If they’re not out by then, I give myself permission not to send one that year.  

That would be this year.  For the first time in about 10 years, the holiday card isn’t happening.  I’m pretty sure no one will die.  Someone will worry and call me. Some grandparent will be disappointed and will also survive.

Seriously.  I refuse to make myself crazy. 

Work Is No Exception

I do the same at work.  

My clients’ who are required to take minimum distributions by December 31 have usually had those distributions before December 1.  

My clients who need to harvest losses for tax purposes by December 31 are already in my queue by mid-November. 

My clients who want to do Roth conversions, offset carry forward losses by realizing some gains, or who want to take advantage of other year-end tax strategies are also usually on my radar by November 1.  

Occasionally I’m taken off-guard by a CPA that has their own ideas for clients and need my help, but it’s pretty rare, especially now with so many tax extensions. 

From time-to-time a client reaches out at the last minute.  Life happens. 

In these instances, I typically already have time in my schedule to handle whatever my clients need. I routinely build that time into my calendar regardless of the time of year.

You Can Do This Too

You know the end of the year is coming.  So plan it. Start on November 1.

Start with how you want to feel during the holiday season.  I encourage you to add “joyful” and “relaxed” to that list.  

Then figure out what needs to happen to make those feelings highly likely to occur and plan backwards.

This might mean:

Reconsidering your holiday traditions.  What parts truly make you happy?  What’s truly worth keeping?  And if another family member wants to keep it, how can you pare it down or delegate big chunks of it?

Giving yourself permission to blow it.  (Seriously, no holiday card this year from me.)  Where do you need permission to skip a task?

Building in time for things that do make you happy.  December is a great time for massages and lazy Saturdays reading a book.  No one said every day in December has to be full of holiday celebrations.

Minimizing those things you do out of obligation.  If it’s isn’t a “hell yes!”, it’s a “no.” I don’t take credit for this saying, but I embrace it wholeheartedly this time of year. 

Disappointing a few people.  Someone somewhere is going to be disappointed you didn’t do something or attend some event.  Find the person in your life that supports your decisions so you can get reinforcement of your new found habit in the face of guilt or whatever you’re feeling.

Your Life, Your Holiday

I’m always telling my clients, “This is your life and your money, on some level I don’t care what you do with it.  I do care that you make good, conscious decisions about it.” 

How you spend the winter holidays is no exception.

If you want to learn more about how to create the holidays you want, please reach out. 

Please enjoy a nice, long winter’s nap.  



Jessica LanningAbout the Author:

Jessica Lanning JD, CFP® brings focus and perspective to your individual financial needs to identify your opportunities for investment and wealth. Regardless of what you’ve done before or what “mistakes” you think you’ve made, Jessica can help get you back on track quickly and safely. As a former practicing lawyer, she brings a comprehensive approach to legal, tax, and financial challenges so that her clients can enjoy peace of mind. A huge proponent of conscious decision-making, Jessica makes sure her clients are educated and informed so that they make sound decisions with clarity and confidence.  Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. The information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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