Monday Morning Practice

Monday Morning Practice – Three B’s for boosting your holiday spirit

Written by Allison Wolf

The holidays are coming, and with them can also land a whole lot of expectations – our own and those of others.

This year I want to suggest you try a tactic from author and life coach Dr. Martha Beck for getting more of the joy from your holiday season. (Lest you think for a moment that life coaches are “flaky” it can be helpful to know that Dr. Beck has her PH.D. from Harvard and was famously described by Oprah as “one of the smartest women I know.”)

Dr. Beck’s tactic is known as the “three b’s” – Bag it, Barter it, or Better it. Here’s how it works.

Draw up a list of your holiday tasks and traditions and separate them into three types, those you enjoy, those that you think you could enjoy but there is something getting in the way of that, and those that you just don’t like at all.

For the not so enjoyable items on your list, initiate a Bag It, Barter It, or Better It strategy.

When you better something, you look for a way of changing it up to make it better. That is what I did with my plan for baking cookies.  I buy the glossy holiday cookie magazines at the grocery store and spend indulgent weekend hours imagining what delights I could bake up.

Then reality hits. I have less than no time for cookie making. I also have little patience and stamina for making any cookie that requires more than a few steps or aptitude for using a frosting bag.

What did I do? I bettered it. Last year, I saved up, and got a professional Kitchen Aid mixer. This baby lets me make the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread that you can imagine, in about the time it takes to brew a pot of tea. I LOVE THIS MIXER.

I dropped by the neighbours last week with a plate of these cookies and was told they were just “like grandma used to make.” Score!

Now, if you can’t find a way to better something you can barter it. Is there someone who enjoys this same thing? If so, do an exchange and take one thing you like doing off their plate, and flip your onerous item onto theirs. This year I will be doing a cookie exchange with friends, I will barter my shortbread for their frosted gingerbread cookies.

Finally comes bagging it. If you can’t stand the thing, or it is just not going to work for you this year, bag it. Toss it out. Don’t do it. This year I am bagging parties that fall on the weekend in the city. I live on an island, and travel to the city for work. Nature and being at home is what rejuvenates me. So much as I would love to attend these weekend parties with good friends in the city, this year I will be bagging them.

To read more about strategies for getting the most of your holidays read Dr. Beck’s column here.

And in celebration of Thanksgiving here’s a link to a Saturday Night Sketch about one way to better your family meal –, scroll down to see it.

(Sorry Canadian readers, the video is blocked for us, which is more than annoying! I was able to watch is last night but this morning access has been cut off.)

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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