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What You Ought to Know About Buying Perfect Holiday Gifts for Loved Ones

What You Ought to Know About Buying Perfect Holiday Gifts for Loved Ones

    When it comes to the holidays, there are those who plan months ahead, thoughtfully selecting the perfect gifts and those who procrastinate down to the last moment, hurtling through the crowds on a wild-eyed, manic mission to find anything that will do. Whatever your approach to the issue, gift-giving can be a stressful process, especially when it comes down to choosing a gift for the one you love.

    The tenth anniversary disaster

    Take my friend Ken, who faced with the challenge of a tenth wedding anniversary to celebrate, was quite convinced that his lovely wife Deb would be thrilled with the sapphire ring he selected for her. It was a a spectacular ring, but as I admired it on her finger, Deb sighed and confided that really what she had wanted was to have the driveway resurfaced.

    Who knew?

    If anyone would have known that she’s the type of girl who prefers a cement truck to a Tiffany box, perhaps it should have been the guy whose been by her side for the last decade?

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    Poor Ken had such awesome intentions but he made the classic mistake of giving what he thought would be a great gift instead of giving her what would really make her happy. That of course, was only the beginning of the problem, because then he felt unappreciated and got really mad with her that she wasn’t being grateful. As you can imagine, it didn’t turn into quite the romantic night they were hoping for.

    Life-long immunity from the Epic Fail

    The good news is that there is a solution to this thorny problem, a gift-giving hack that will grant you life-long immunity from the Epic Fail and transform you into the Superhero who blows their mind every time. It’s not rocket science, people. It’s the deceptively simple idea of giving people what they actually want. In fact, this is a hack that has benefits way beyond gift-giving for your relationship.

    The key to success is in taking time to figure out your partner’s unique values instead of assuming that they might appreciate what would be on the top of your list. As we saw with Ken, you can put a heck of a lot of effort in to doing something to make somebody feel loved, but if you are not communicating in their language, the message is not going to be received the way it is intended. It’s not just enough to avoid the obvious mistake of giving what you would like, you need to take time to understand your partner’s preferences.

    Are you speaking the same language?

    Marriage Counselor Gary Chapman would describe this as learning your partner’s “love language” which is how he describes the idea that everybody has a primary way that they express and interpret love. In his book, the 5 Love Languages, Gary identified five key ways in which people feel loved: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch and, of course, Receiving Gifts.

    Thinking about yourself  and your significant other  for a moment. In order for you to feel loved which of the following would you prefer that they did?

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    a) wrote you a poem

    b) took care of household chore without being asked

    c) stared deeply into your eyes over a candle-lit dinner

    d) gave you a massage

    e) bought you something

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    Of course, I’d personally like to add,

    f) all of the above

    to the options but for the sake of this exercise, just go with it and pick one.

    Of course, your preferences may also change at different times. If you are really struggling to decide, try thinking about which ones you could live without and use a process of elimination. Next, think about which of these your partner appreciates most – (consider which of these they ask for most or perhaps even which of these they complain about not getting).

    Creating a wish list

    If you have the time, (assuming you’re not reading this post with only 8 shopping hours to go), my best suggestion is to do this exercise together. It’s a great idea for a date. If you’re really daring, you could even try it on a first date.

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    Grab pen and paper for each of you, explain the categories and then write down your list in order – no peeking. Just for fun, try and guess what your partner has written first, before you share them with each other. Of course, this list doesn’t need to be restricted to the five categories above. For one thing, I think the “physical touch” category is better broken down into Sexual and Non-sexual touch. For some people, it is a massage without the “happy ending” that would really mean the most, whereas for others, they would feel most loved being on the receiving end of an expression of unbridled passion. Feel free to add things of your own like  “Bring me flowers”.

    Do you see where this is going?

    If you apply this logic to the holiday gift-giving dilemma, you suddenly have many other possibilities to choose from as a gift, since for many people, the gift of “I will spend the weekend helping you clean out the basement” would be actually worth way more than any of the things you are considering buying.

    It’s the thought that counts

    But just because it’s not a physical gift, it doesn’t mean you can skimp on the presentation.

    You could buy a little wooden box to place your love poem in or  you might like to create a personalized gift card, or series of vouchers especially tailored to your beloved’s desires. Now you’re scoring points and saving money – that’s what I call a “win-win”. And as a bonus, if you’ve done this exercise together, you will notice that your partner now knows exactly what would make you happy this holiday season!  At the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism, but if you remember the real reason behind your desire to give this person a gift, you’ll have a much better chance of successfully achieving your goal. After all, it is the thought that counts.

    (Photo credit: Portrait of a girl sitting and looking at a gift box from Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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