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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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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