#028 - Celebrate enoughness this holiday season - part1.

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Hello, my friend. And welcome back to the homework. Having podcast. Listen. This season 3 is all about change.

In episode 1 I gave you my question catalog on how to gather all the necessary info you need in order to face change. And since I’m your project manager, get-shit-done kind of girl, I made the distinction between before, during and after change if we take it as a project with a process. 


Maybe you have heard about Gallup strength assessment before, if not, check it out. I have Learner, Input and individualization in my top 5, which leads me to gather ALL info upfront. There is this German saying “Vorsorge ist besser als Nachsorge.” which roughly translates into “It’s better to prepare than having to heal.” Which means let’s take more time to prepare well, rather than run the risk to be surprised during the project and stress, get reactive and end up with a lesser quality result.


Then episode 2 + 3 my awesome guests came in with their invaluable expertise. when it comes to decision-making.before tackling change I talked  to  Katherine who helpes us to stay level headed when we're about to make a Decision in an emotionally difficult situation. Difficult because it’s decisions with a point-of no return moment. Kathrine is my kind of girl, because she is all about staying calm and being thorough and strategic - tactically and emotionally.


And if Katherine helped us to bring the head into the emotion before making a decision, then Sarah in episode 3 followed and showed us how to take the head out of the process after the decision has been made. Doubting, questioning, stagnating and procrastinating are products of the brain which wants to keep us safe and in comfort - which does not work with change. We talked about how our emotions are not problems we need to solve or fix. We can have uncomfortable feelings and still do hard things despite feeling them. If following through with action is your pet peeve, go and check out episode three.


This brings me to today. Today it’s ( only)  me narrowing down on one very particular feeling that always comes up during any kind of change project.


Will this be enough? Have I done enough? Am I good or capable enough to get this done?


Thanksgiving and the black friday weekend have just passed and now the holiday frenzy starts. We’re all trying to finish 11months worth of projects whilst preparing what is, for most, the biggest events of the year, Christmas and New Year, in the short timespan of 4 weeks. Hello there stress - welcome back into our lives with your last big hooray of the year.


Now, I’m a huge advocate for Essentialism - As little as possible, but as much as needed to think well of yourself and feel well in your home - is my motto.


But how can we celebrate enoughness in a season that is traditionally all about more, more, more?


How can we celebrate enoughness in a season that is traditionally all about more more more AND at the same time for the second time round embedded in a global social context of lack and restriction and leaving us wanting to double down on the more more more?


Today I want to offer you my approach to quote on quote - “Hacking”  the holidays.

What are the little things you can change to honor your own enoughness during this stressful time?


I told you earlier that I have Learner, individualization and Input in my top 5 strengths. They are all about more more more. The other two in my top5 are Activator and Significance. This is how I filter through all the more I bring in and then focus down on some selected few. 

Significance is only happy with my results if it gets us the big WOW. The Ohs and Ahs and Holy crap this is so cool.

My activator wants me (and by extension you) it wants US to get going fast and the fastest way is if its easy and feasible. 


How does this sound to you? 

Let’s celebrate enoughness through practicing essentialism. And my two main filters for esstialism are significance - answering the question “what is important here? What will bring you the biggest emotional satisfaction?”


“How can we get the ball rolling, or the party started fast, easy AND ideally in a fun way? This is, after all the AHWH podcast and I love me a good dose of JDV - joy for life.”



If this is not your first contact with me you heard me say this before: YOur home is not a branding exercise. 

Branding in marketing was invented to reassure the customer that you, as a service provider or seller have what it takes to get them what THEY want.


Your home should NOT be about what THEY want, but about serving you. 


I approach home and Interior Design from an event design perspective: How can we make your home a shared & memorable moment in time?


Now, I could at this point geek out on the science of learning and how memories are formed and why we should focus on positive psychology - believe me I AM the kind of nerd to read books on that - again I AM A LEARNER.


BUT since I also intend to wow you and get you going fast and easy, let me just tell you this:

There is extensive research being done in consumer behavior & marketing, event design or specific niches like the travel industry on how to make people (that includes yourself) think well of you and feel satisfied with the experience you provided them with.


So without further ado- let’s hack this.

First thing I want you to do is: Think of the holidays as an event. And in my example I’ll be talking about Christmas, but please, all other social or religious celebrations will do and I do not wnat to discriminate any faith here.


...Alors, since any event is comprised of a series of moments and each event has millions of moments (and it doesnt matter if your event is 3h, 3 days or 3 weeks long) in the end our brain will be very selective with what it wants to store as a memory. It will remember very few specific details and the rest will all become one big blur with a general emotion attached.


What I mean is this: if you celebrate christmas, then Christmas is usually THE big thing everyone looks forward to at the end of the year. ANd whilst you might remember e.g. what you got or gave as a present last year, with time it becomes really hard to differentiate the Christmas of 2010 from the one in 2013. We’ll probably all remember christmas 2020 because it was particularly weird and weird for everyone, so everyone will talk about that one for years to come.


But in general, non-pandemic circumstances, All we remember about Christmas is the general feeling of wow-ness of the event.


Any Hyped social event like this lives off elevation. Which means: take what you already have and what you already do and dump a bucket of glitter and sprinkles on top of it. 


Take your nice home and make it nicer. If its cozy, then make it cozier. If it’s elegant, make it glamorous.


Do you eat. Of cause you do. So on Christmas: eat more. Eat better, eat more expensive. Eat it all.


Do you like to laugh? Of cause you do. Laugh more. Laugh loader, laugh from the belly. Laugh with friends, laugh with family… even laugh at the inappropriate jokes and comments of uncle harry - just because its christmas and we’re meant to keep the peace.


This is elevation. Maximizing the ordinary to extra-ordinary standards. You can elevate through

  • Boosting sensory appeal

  • Raising the stakes, which means adding the possibility that someone might loose face, or add any kind of other perceived risk, or by

  • Breaking the script. (christmas in itself is a break from the ordinary script of the year)

Elevation is mostly a physical experience.


But did you know that there are 3 more areas that our brain likes to scan for before it decides whether or not to classify a moment as memorable or not?


There is pride: 

moments of pride show people at their best. It’s appreciating someone for who they are and how they do their thing and letting them bring their greatness to the table in order to serve others. Pride is for the ego and is all about personality.

You can boost someones ego by creating milestones that serve their personality, during your holiday event. But in order to make it meaning ful, ask yourself:


What would fill them up emotionally rather than materialistically?


Pride is also that feeling that follows after having practiced courage.

You learned a new skill and then you show it off. You practiced the piano, then play a piece whilst everyone is listening to you.

If you are the main organizer of Christmas for your people: how can you prepare a moment of pride for others?If a moment of pride is to happen during your event - during the holiday it means it needs to be scripted and practiced upfront in order to build confidence in the person.


But moments of pride live and in stereo are not the only ones that bring joy. Think also of moments passed. Maybe of moments passed with people passed. Nostalgia does not have to be always sad. Go back in time… this year or further down. Recognize, see and celebrate others on the most personal level.


Elevation. Pride. Insight.


Engineer moments of insight for your people. Yes. Mind-blows can be constructed.

More often than not they just happen to happen, see my bonus episode on wine stains that my father in law taught me. It was the wisest thing he ever said to me and I bet if I was to tell him that, he wouldn’t even remember he said that.


So moments of singht can be positive or negative. They are the twist in the plot you did not see coming. So how do you engineer them?

Well, they are a common known fact painted in a new light at a surprise moment. 

Take something ordinary a person does and tell them or show them why it’s meaningful to you. And in order to hit the mark: You need to know the truth you want to share upfront. The point you want to make needs to be crystal clear then hide that truth, but lay clues for them to pick up. Yes sometimes you need to  mAke them own their strengths. Tell them what you think they’re best at and how stepping up to the plate, taking the responsibility to get it done, will add value to you and everyone involved. Think especially of those people that usually do not get asked, rather than those that are already knee deep in the trenches.

Moments of insight make people trip over an old truth painted in a new light and then stretches their mind because they never saw it like this and it takes some getting used to to seeing it this way.

Moments of insight are moments of the brain. A cognitive experience - so think about it… in advance… no pun intended here - but still amused.


OK, Elevation, pride, insight…. We’re missing connection.

If moments of pride are about the individual then moments of connection are about the shared experience of the collective. And even though it is about the many, the team it’s about your specific family and highly personal. It’s the hardest theme to grasp and define in general terms. It’s what takes the longest to design when I work with my clients and there is no way that I can give it justice in a few sentences in a single podcast episode. 

But let me try anyways: 


Connection happens over shared meaning - shared values. For connection to happen we need to have defined the purpose and let everyone involved take ownership of the purpose and bringing it to life. It’s that famous saying “There is no i in team - but it’s all about you and me.”


The reason why connection doesn’t happen over Christmas could be because ew over-emphasize elevation through sensory appeal. If Christmas becomes all about the the more more more it won’t bring us closer because that’s elevation & elevation is all about the physical experience of the individual. 


Connection does not come wrapped in fancy papers, perfumed or bathed in glitter. 


On the contrary: Connection comes always bare naked, feels often awkward and uncomfortable, but is honest and unarmed and the realest intangible thing you’ll ever get to experience. Connection happens & deepens our ties when we try to understand even though we have not experienced the other persons truth ourselves. When we validate the other person whether we agree or understand or don’t and it happens when we can show that we care.


I know this sounds heavy but if you can take one thing away from this it’s: try to make connection an exercise. 

Understand, validate, care. You do not need to agree or take it upon yourself to do or believe the same as the other person you want to connect with.

Just: Understand. Validate. Care. and let it stand like that. Unwrapped. Unglittered. Unglorified.


Uf… this is honestly taking longer than I thought it would. We are now what…. ___ min into this podcast and I still have not told you about my second hack.


I told you at the beginning of this episode that I’m the project manager kind of person that likes to have a process, likes to wow you AND  likes to make things easy, right. 

So my significance strength & I hope we wow-ed by breaking down what makes our brain filter whether an experience is worth remembering or not.
Elevation, pride, insight and connection are the quality filters of the what. Combine any two or more at the same time and chances are more than good that your holiday will be remembered & remembered well.


Now let me introduce you to my activator strength and show you HOW we can bring ease and feasibility into this whole spiel.


So, the holidays are an event that I want you to think of as dividable into 3 phases, or containing 3 milestones. If you cover and add quality only to these 3 and let the rest be average, you’re golden. Especially if you apply those principles over and over again each holiday season - they’ll compound in effectiveness. For you, because shit gets easier each time you practice. And for the others because they’ll get to experience your ease over and over again. And people with ease and grace in a stressful time are just so damn attractive and trustworthy.


Cornerstone NO1:


make the beginning easy for everyone. Big events come loaded with big expectations and mighty anticipation. So in order to not run the risk of blowing the fuse right at the beginning: make the beginning easy.

And easy means easy, normal, not extraordinary. 

Don’t overwhelm people right upon arrival. Make arriving easy for them. If you have low-demand people who need to wind down - let them do that without demanding them to participate straight away. If you have high demand people coming who want you to be there and available for them - block that time out in advance. Make arrival easy for them as well as easy for you. If you’re running the show you need to be mindful of your energy for the entire event.


And if you are the one arriving at someone elses house, be an easy guest. You know your people best. If they’re stressed, don’t be another thing they need to manage. Stay out of their way or jump into helping mode. Let them do what they need to do and help in a way that caters to your strengths.


It’s a cornerstone because: 

Just Think of your last travel or the last event you went to. The journey to the destination is physically straining and if the check-in process at the airport or the hotel is complicated or overwhelming - people get tense your mood drops and you instantly go into defence mode looking for another shoe to drop: “Great, what else will suck?” That’s not how you want your event to start.


Cornerstone NO2:

Have a highlight.

One highlight.

One highlight that comes easy to you. 

One highlight that makes YOU shine in the best light. Drop the other shit. It’s OK if the rest is just average.

My husband and I are foodies. I’m a real good cook and he’s a brilliant patissier - a pastry chef. When people come to our house they know they’ll eat well. And since we like food and preparing it, it’s the thing we like to challenge ourselves with each year. 


Remember: If it’s your strength it’s not stressful work - it’s a bring-it-on kind of game. Even if one thing doesn’t turn out as great as we hoped for: it’s just one thing. The rest of the meal is still so much better than what people usually eat.

And that’s arrogance. 

Saying your good or great in one thing does not take away light from other people being great at other things. 

Think of it this way: if you own, honor & use your strength you become the expert. And experts are the reliable people. If you’re the expert in ….cooking… people do not worry about that part. It’s taken care of.

No one comes to our house expecting to be entertained through music or elaborate games, or...god knows what. We’re the foodies. At our house you eat - full stop.


The reason why this is a cornerstone: 

Theme parks for example like to wow their people each step of the way. There is an attraction on each corner - but when guests are asked to leave a review afterwards they all sound more or like like this: “There were so many great things, but the absolute highlight was___!”
And if you ask them weeks or months later about that experience they will mention their highlight first and the rest they’ll mention the general feeling they associate with it but they’ll really have to search for other details in their memory, because it has not been stored in as much detail as the one thing.


Make that fact about human brains and memory forming your ally.

Have one highlight.


One highlight that comes easy to you. 

One highlight that makes YOU shine in the best light. Drop the other shit. It’s OK if the rest is just average. Be the reliable one when it comes to your strength.


Last but not least: 

Cornerstone NO3


The end.

End on a high. 

Coming back to all research on events, the travel industry and amusement park - that are event design you have to travel to…

When people remember it badly it’s statistically because the beginning was already bad and then there was no highlight, or even a pit - instead of a peak moment.

When they remember it well and recommend the experience, they remember the highlight and how it ended on a good note.


Use that info.

The end does not need to be another highlight. Just good.

That’s why people give gift bags at the end of promotion events or kids birthday parties.

You can do that - give gifts if that’s what you’re good at. 

But that’s once more elevation. It’s sensory boost of the individual.

How can you add any of the other three - pride, insight, connaction - to make the end special?

Can you give a personal compliment to someone on how you appreciated them stepping up during your event?

Can you go back to a moment of vulnerable connection and make them feel understood, validated and cared about?

What needs to happen for this to end on a good note whilst still coming easy to you?

Think about them, but stay within integrity with yourself.


I wish you enough friend -

Until next week!