We all know that the holidays are supposed to be a time to celebrate with friends and family, reflect on the year that passed, take a break from our busy day to day lives and start planning how to make the following year even better. But is that really what you’ll be doing this holiday season?

What Most People’s Holiday Season Is Like

In a nuthsell: stressful. Calendars full of holiday parties, cramming in end of Q4 work, fistfights in the mall, traffic jams to and fro, racking up your credit card traveling to see your family and worrying whether your gift is going to make your significant other feel significant… God bless America. Did I mention I fired my best friend four days before Christmas? Oops… time to focus on what really matters.

Get Back to Basics with Minimalism

People who know me, know that I’m a minimalist. As a scatterbrained-ADD-entrepreneur type who is normally bouncing off the walls, and if I had lots of personal possessions it would just add the clutter. I’ve learned to embrace the moment a woman sees my apartment and says “wait, all your stuff can fit into this trunk?”

This holiday season I’m making a concerted effort to clear my mind, wipe a blank slate and focus on what’s important. If you don’t reflect and relax, you have your foot on the gas but are going in no particular direction. Now that I’m here in Key West it’s time for some true rest and relaxation in minimalist fashion.

Give No Gifts

My family has decided not to give gifts this year. At first I wasn’t thrilled, to be honest; not because I wanted stuff, but because I thought the holidays would lose it’s thoughtfulness. At it’s core, gift giving is supposed to be about doing something nice for someone else; not spending a lot of money. The time I’d normally spend shopping, I’m spending writing handwritten notes to people.

You don’t have to be curled up under a palm tree like me to pull something like this off. Figure out what you can simplify in your life this holiday season. Maybe it’s baking 8 dozen Christmas cookies, maybe it’s calling off the extravagant New Year’s plans….and maybe minimalism will become a family tradition. It’s a system that works for me.

Create Your Systems

Think of the systems in your life. Whether it’s your fitness and finances, building your business model or just finding time to relax, it all has to work in systems in order to integrate with your life and be sustainable practices. When you are doing your end of the year checkup, make sure to record:

1). Your list of accomplishments (Holidays are for celebrating!) and..
2). Your categories of improvement. (New Years is for resolutions!)

But this time, next to each one, write how the system worked or how the system that you need to put in place should work. Check out my example…

Accomplishment: Created a New York events series bringing together over 200 entrepreneurs together monthly.
Events System:

  • Created relationships with venue and sponsors
  • Built list through Meetup.com, Eventbrite, Under30CEO’s mailing list and social media
  • Coordinate details in Under30CEO event plan guidebook

Category of Improvement/Goal: Read 30 non-fiction books in 2012
Self Study System:

  • Watch less Hulu and Netflix
  • Stop working and read every night before bed (20 mins)
  • Read during every meal that I dine alone (40 mins)
  • Read on the subway (30 mins)

Just by creating a quick system, I figured out how to free up an hour and a half to dedicate to reading every single day. Make that system into a lifelong habit and imagine the knowledge I’ll be able to absorb. (Hold me to that.)

I Know What You’re Thinking

This dude is insane. He’s just one of those rah-rah, super motivated guys, who wants to preach about self improvement, wishes he was Tim Ferriss and wants to take over the world to make me feel bad about myself…. Not exactly.

The truth is, I don’t care how motivated you are. I realize that there are different levels of ambition in this world and the great thing about minimalism, is that less is actually more. One of my biggest faults is that I have too many goals and ambitions and easily lose focus. People are intimidated when they hear about all the stuff I have going…How do I train for powerlifting, practice yoga, play football and go to boxing every single week and run a business while maintaining a social life? But as soon as people meet me, they realize I could really care less about all that…

I Do All That Because It’s Fun

What I really care about is that I help people have as much fun as I do everyday and build businesses. Your career as an entrepreneur is the vehicle to cross off all the things you ever wanted out of life. Hopefully it’ll be Under30CEO that gets you there.

Plain and simple:

1. Cut the noise
2. Figure out what you want
3. Create the systems to get you there
4. Have a sh*tload of fun doing it

Happy Holidays!

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO and is looking to help every entrepreneur on the planet. Connect with him on Twitter @MattWilsontv.


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