As we enter the holiday season, I’m thinking a lot about the traditions that each of us carry into the last few weeks of the year. You might have traditions about how, where, and with who you gather on the actual holidays themselves. Or maybe they are around decorating your house or that group of friends you get together with.
For example, my parents and siblings have always gone out to eat on Christmas Eve since I can remember. I still trek back to Milwaukee to do that, even though now I’m bringing my own family with me. New Year’s Day brunch with friends has been a personal tradition for over a decade. And I love the Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas Album, but I only let myself listen to it in December (it’s on right now).
Holiday traditions are comforting because they give us a touchpoint to come back to every time we go around the sun. They are habits that we don’t even have to think about, we just do them. We don’t even have to ask if they are happening or not.
We Can Get Stuck In Tradition
But there’s a downside to traditions. Because in the end, tradition is a hard habit to break.
When you slide into your annual traditions, it saves you the time and energy of thinking about it. But that means that you lose the chance to step back and see if that tradition, that habit, is still serving you.
I saw this as we moved away from one of my family traditions. While growing up, Thanksgiving was spent at my grandparent’s house on the Fisher side of the family. And it was a big gathering. We’d usually have about 35-40 people (you have to eat in shifts with that many people). I have a lot of fond memories from those Thanksgivings.
But as all of us cousins got older and started families of our own, it got a bit too chaotic. We still wanted to get together because it was a time when we could all see my grandmother. But we also felt the pull to start our own traditions. The Thanksgiving after my grandma passed away (at 94 after a good, long run) the dam burst and the aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins got to redefine and remake their approach to Turkey Day.
It required a little extra work and brain space as we figured out how we would celebrate and get together. But it also led to different experiences and the opportunity to create our own traditions.
Starting New Traditions is Powerful
Traditions are good, but when we break them, we have a chance to create something new.
That’s why I think it’s useful to re-examine our traditions and habits, even beyond our holiday get-togethers.
One tradition I’ve reassessed and am actively changing is how I write these emails I send out to you. In fact, this is the last Monday Morning Mash-Up I’m writing. (I know, I know, I might have buried the lede a bit.)
I wrote the first Mash-Up in 2014, so it’s been a good tenure. They’re some of my best writing and I’m putting many of the essays into a book that will be out sometime in the next 18 months.
But it’s time to shake things up a bit, so starting in January they’ll be a new format for these emails. I’ll share more as we get closer, but I’m really excited about the changes. I’ll have more opportunities to connect you with the professional and personal development ideas that are going to be critical to your career success. And at the same time, I want to bring more of my personal perspective in and share some insights to be successful in the business world.
It’s cliché, but I’m both nervous and excited to try something new. Though you may spend only a few minutes with my weekly emails, they are something I’ve been spending hours on every week for years. Mixing it up is going to require some new approaches, but also create some space for me to grow in my work.
In the meantime, as we go through the last weeks of the year, I hope you enjoy your holiday traditions.
And maybe think of changing one up a bit. Or even starting a new one.