Heather Hansen

Riding the Holiday Roller Coaster

Do you like roller coasters?  I do. It wasn’t always that way. My very first roller coaster ride was the worst–too fast, too jerky, too much nausea. I swore I’d never ride one again, but my mother was never one to let me give up on anything. She made me try again. We have a picture of my miserable face as that roller coaster ride was about to start, and then another picture of me at the end of the ride, grinning ear to ear. I learned that in the right circumstances, I love the ups and downs of a roller coaster ride. 

That love for ups and downs served me well when I became a trial attorney. Trials are intense. Prepping for trial is the slow, laborious, uphill climb. Waiting for the verdict is that moment at the top, when you can see the world and all of the possibilities, but don’t know how things will end. You are filled with dread and excitement–and then the free fall. Win or lose, it is intense. But then you have the moment of nothing. Trial is over and if you’re lucky you have time before the next trial so that you can rest.

The holiday season reminds me of a roller coaster. It’s fast and exciting, filled with lines, whoops of delight, and laughter. Ideally, though, the holiday season also has some down time, some moments of peace. We all need to make time for the ups and the downs. 

One of my readers reminded me of that recently. She told me that the holidays can be hard, especially for those of us who are working. My first thought was that the only people who work during the holidays are lawyers. I’ve had many a Christmas trial and in those times I’ve resented that the rest of the world wasn’t working during the holidays. But I was wrong. We are all working during the holiday season–whether it’s planning meals, caring for sick or elderly loved ones, wrapping presents for kids, or handling that last minute project that is due in the new year. It’s an intense time of year, and you can’t be always climbing or balancing at the top. You need to come down. You need to rest. 

 If you want to be successful, the ideal is to have 90 minutes of work followed by a period of rest. Studies show that leads to improved productivity and creativity. If you want to have a successful holiday season, follow this advice. Take the time to take a rest.  A rollercoaster wouldn’t be fun if you were always climbing, always falling, or always at the precipice. You need the ups and downs to make it work.

Turn on the Christmas lights, grab the beverage of your choice, and take a minute to rest your mind and your body. Slow down the shopping, the wrapping and the baking. Enjoy the ups and relish the downs. It’s the only way you will get off the ride and head into 2019 with a grin on your face.

Heather Hansen

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