Most business owners head into the holiday season with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. It’s the time of year that will make or break it for many businesses.

 There are added pressures and expectations and often we are unsure how to prioritize our time during this season. On top of all the business demands, most entrepreneurs must balance the expectations of family and friends who want you to “stop talking business” when gathering together.

 Ironically, in the midst of all the busyness of the holidays, it can also be one of the loneliest times of the year. Business owners are not immune to the stress and emptiness that many experience during this season.

 Here are a few suggestions for surviving the holidays:

Don’t “just survive.”

Perhaps the best suggestion is to not look at this time of year as something to survive. More than anything else, our attitude determines how we will experience anything in life. Embrace the season. When you push past everything else, the Christmas season is about the beauty of love. Whether that love is expressed to family, friends, strangers or even ourselves, the message of this season is about giving love freely.

Every year I take time during the holidays to reflect on all that I am grateful for in my life. I wasn’t going to do that in 2012. I was a few months out of a 22-year marriage and my world was upside down. So much had changed and in many ways, my head was spinning. I needed to just survive the season.

One night, I sat in my one bedroom apartment feeling sorry for myself. I looked over at my tiny, cardboard tree that my youngest daughter and I had picked up. And, I made the decision – the choice – to not simply survive the season. Even in my loneliness, I knew I had so much for which to be thankful. I began to reflect on those things and soon embraced the holidays.

You have a choice on how you will go through this season. Choose to embrace all the good that this time of year represents and not dwell on the negative. Believe me, it will change everything.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Even with the best attitude, there are still going to be extra demands on most business owners during the holidays. While prioritizing your to-do list is a great habit to have all year round, it’s especially valuable during this season.

Start every day by looking at all the things you need to do and decide what is the most important thing on your list. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing that will bring the biggest value to my business if it were done today?” And focus on that task. Keep going, taking care of one item at a time. You’ll be amazed at how many things we put on our “to do” list that really don’t bring much value to our business.

Prepare For The Madness

If you’ve been in business for more than a few years, then you likely have a good idea of what to expect over the next few weeks. That’s good news! Create an action plan so that you are prepared for the added demands.

Are there certain days that are usually busier than others during this season? Plan now by scheduling extra staff. Do you have a few holiday parties you have to attend? Get them in your calendar and schedule your time so that you are not rushing around when you’re supposed to be attending a social gathering.

Appreciate Your Employees

Chances are, you’re not the only one stressed during this season. Your employees know that more is expected of them when things are busy. Take the time to show them how much you appreciate all that they do. While gifts or bonuses are great ideas, taking the time to simply say, “Thank you” can go a long way.

You are the leader. So lead your employees with the attitude I mentioned earlier. Smile, laugh, and remind your team to do the same. After the dust settles, you will be there as a team, ready to take on the new year!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

In the end, the holiday season will be what you make it to be. Before we know it, the season will be over and we’ll be setting goals for the next year. If you wake up dreading each day and all that will happen, then you’ll likely just survive the holidays.

If you approach each day as another opportunity to celebrate the season with others, you’ll likely enjoy one of the best holiday seasons ever.

It’s your choice.