The Holiday Tunnel


Happy holidays! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season thus far and that the stress levels haven’t gone off the charts — yet.

I thought I’d try to bring a little behavioral economics to the holiday season by exploring what I’m calling the”holiday tunnel.”

You might remember from our classes that “scarcity” is defined as “having less than you feel you need.” And while we tend to think about this in terms of money, you can have scarce time, energy, food, relationships and information – to name a few. As I’ve been contemplating this blog, I was thinking that the holiday season has a unique way of really heightening the “scarcity” concept.

So what happens when we experience “scarcity?” Well, we know from research that as people experience scarcity chronically, they begin to behave predictably irrational. You might remember from our classes that “tunneling” is a result of experiencing chronic scarcity. And when a person is in the tunnel, they tend to stop planning, begin looking for convenient solutions that ultimately have higher costs associated with them, which in turns creates a new shortage. Take a moment and think about the holiday season with these concepts in mind – and whether or not you enter into the holiday tunnel. Think about how often our time is stretched, how much money is required, how much energy is required. Our bandwidth is reduced by virtue of having so many activities and expectations thrust upon us. Do you find yourself reacting in ways that were totally unplanned? Do you look for convenient solutions to solve time or energy constraints?

All the data about how people respond to the holiday season indicates that most of us are stretched thin, moving very fast, feel somewhat overwhelmed and that money is leaving our possession at a fairly rapid pace. That is to say, if you recognize yourself in the holiday tunnel, you are definitely not alone. Apparently there are a lot of holiday tunnels with people all over occupying them.

In our seminar, “Holidays Under Control,” we try to help people find their way back to aligning the holidays with their own personal values and goals. When we are in the tunnel, it can be hard to see where you are going and often we can get a little off track. So for this month, the challenge to you is to take a look at your holiday behaviors and to notice if they are, or are not, in alignment with those goals and values. Where are we falling into internal inconsistencies and allowing the season to move us out of alignment with ourselves?

Link to online class  “Holidays Under Control.”   Coupon code available through the December Newsletter.

 Shawn on a Shelf is a blog by Shawn Young