Holiday Traditions and Your Job Search

Posted by Nancy Gober

Bah-Humbug. Not really, but when it comes to those holiday traditions…

Spending money you don’t have,

on presents you don’t want to buy,

to travel to places you don’t want to go,

on entertaining you don’t want to do.

Spending time you don’t have,

with people you don’t want to see,

on holiday traditions you don’t want to continue.

Spending energy you don’t have,

on activities that take you away from your job search!

Welcome to the holidays. That wonderful time of the year when traditions “bind us” to doing what we’ve always done. Even if we no longer want to do what we’ve always done.

I’ve heard from lots of job seekers over the years who feel trapped by holiday traditions that they feel compelled to participate in just because they’ve always done it. When I ask them, “So why do you?” as often as not, they answer “It’s a tradition – we’ve always done it,” even if they really don’t like or have even come to resent, holiday activities such as:

● Getting together every year on Thanksgiving with 23 people.

● Hosting the annual neighborhood holiday block party.

● Buying presents for 13.  It was OK when it was just your 4 siblings, but now with your siblings’ children, presents-for-4 has turned into presents-for-13.

● Traveling to St. Louis or Butte, or Mobile . . ., with 3 little kids on flights and presents in tow, to spend Christmas day with extended family since that is where they always congregate!

● or . . . well, you get the idea.

Stop it

My advice to those job seekers has been – “Stop it.”  Stop doing those things that cause you to spend money, time, and energy you don’t have on things, activities, and people that will simply slow, stymie, thwart, or stop your search for a new position. You can’t afford it!

Bah-humbug  —  Not really

This is not a case of “bah-humbug!” It’s just being practical. It is a case of examining what you truly want, but more importantly are able, to do for the holiday season, in light of the fact that you are looking for a job.

Change isn’t easy, especially for folks who have long-standing expectations of you. Here’s the thing:  If they truly have your best interest at heart – and not their own – they will accept and understand your decision – eventually.

Change doesn’t make you popular

Choosing to stop, or change your degree of, participation in long-time family or friends’ traditions is hard. But, as a person looking for a job, you have the best excuse, actually a sound reason, to beg off of holiday events:  “You can’t afford it. You don’t have the resources – the money, time, or energy – to participate this year – that’s it!”

And, people will adjust. Over time, family, friends, and acquaintances may come to accept, if not actually understand, that you are making a decision that is best for you, and your immediate family (if you have one),  at this time. Instigating change rarely makes you popular, but it can make you happier when you are engaging in only those traditions or starting new ones that you really want, and can afford, to participate in.

Start some new traditions

It’s time to start some new ways of engaging in the holidays. Here’s how:

(1)  Think about what you really like about the holidays.

(2)  Identify what you don’t like about the holidays, noting traditions you’ve gone along with but never really liked and don’t want to continue. Get clear on your reasons why.

(3) Talk it over with your own nuclear family or close friends with whom you will be spending the holidays.

(4)  List what you would really like to do – on your own, with your nuclear family, with extended family, and with your circle of friends and acquaintances. It’s OK to answer “Nothing this year.”

(5)  Examine your list and decide

– What you want to do, and

– What you can afford to do, – 2 different things entirely.  Base this on your resources – available time, money, and energy.

(6)  Now this is the hard part – Inform those family members, friends, and acquaintances whose expectations you will not be able to fulfill this year of your situation.   You might say, “You will not be able to participate this year due to your job search and your limited resources.”  And . . .

    – The earlier the better.

    – Be prepared for arguments of why “you have to”  – by folks who want you to do what they want you to do!

    – Prepare and practice your response in advance – one that is not arguable.  One of the least arguable is: “I can not afford it this year.”

    – Stand firm.  Use the broken record technique:  No matter what Aunt Susie or Uncle Stan says, your response is: “I can not afford it this year.”  “I can not afford it this year.”  “I can not afford it this year.”  Eventually, when they realize they can’t coerce you into doing things “the way we’ve always done them” they will get Your Message.

Enjoy your holidays!

Now focus your resources on what you actually want to do for this year’s holiday season, and enjoy your holidays!

Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].


  • Nancy Gober

    Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment, and the author of “Jobs Are Not Found Sitting at the Computer.” You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 12:20 pm

2 thoughts on “Holiday Traditions and Your Job Search”

  1. Thank you for writing this article !!!
    Totally awesome and so very important to read thru a few times. Holiday depression is something of a problem during this time of year for many people, on top of which, many of us who are looking for jobs also have to deal with the occasional “blue days”. Change during this time of year is good and healthy, and I believe show ” inner growth “.
    Have a happy holiday to all 🙂 !!!

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