What do, “It’s all about giving” and “I am swimming in stress” have in common? The answer is the holidays!
This time of year tends to be all about carrying on with life, while adding the lives of everyone around you to your list of to-dos. This can sometimes lead to drinking three too many cups of coffee by noon or general spontaneous combustion. While I will never discourage someone supporting another, I think there is a difference between getting in the spirit of giving and pulling your hair out while trying to accomplish everything for everyone else.
Holidays come at the end of the year, a time when most are reflecting on what’s happened, missing passed loved ones, or discovering the stress of unachieved goals as it spills over with hectic holiday hustle. This could seem like the worst time in the world to ask for help. But when you’re complaining about Aunt Susie not helping with the ham, or lamenting the lack of collaboration at work, it might not be the unwillingness of others, but your lack of asking that’s really the root of the problem.
Here’s some advice from mentors and peers on solutions to the holiday stress, and ways they’ve battled the going-it-alone attitude to keep calm and carry on .
- Let’s start with the basics: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Intuit’s SVP Karen Peacock talks about the simplicity of reaching out to others who have already done what you’re doing. Most times, people are elated to share their experiences; happy to help someone avoid a catastrophe they could have or excited to share their latest discovery. Don’t be so down on humanity. Assume the best, it’s the holidays for goodness sake.
- Cat got your tongue? Most of us struggle with reaching out with an ask: from feeling like you’d owe the person you ask a favor, to fearing feeling inferior for not knowing the information on your own. But the fear of “not having what it takes” or “not wanting to seem incompetent” are just that, fear. Fear tends to keep us from accomplishing what we set out to do in the first place. You’ve done so much to get so far, why stop now just because you think you should be perfect? You’re human. Welcome to the club. Thank goodness there is collaboration.
- Speaking of which, are you struggling with loneliness? Find a mentor, a peer group, or a local hub that hosts event series (ahem, or a coworking space). Surround yourself with folks who are asking similar questions or are looking to grow culturally in the same ways. Asking for help gives you the opportunity to connect with others who are probably thinking the same thing you are.
- Asking for help isn’t always about you. Surprisingly enough, asking for help often means more to the person you asked. Look to people who are looking to launch themselves as experts in an area in which you’re struggling. Many people have a lot of expertise and are looking for others to help them practice their teaching skills. Don’t forget to talk about how they supported you; or ask if they would like feedback to grow their skillset.
- And one of the greatest reasons to ask for help? Avoiding the self-limiting tendency of standing solo helps grow your network, while simultaneously establishing yourself as an individual who is dedicated to learning and self-improvement. A willingness to learn is a vital value for leaders. In a time where it feels like we are all supposed to be able to “do it all” and thus know it all, it helps take weight off of shoulders around you by setting the example that asking for help can be a sign of confidence.