Happiness Project – Week #9

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I’m finally back with a real Happiness Project post!! Yay!!!

So this week we start goals for the month of March. I have to admit, when I saw what this month was about, my heart sank a little.

Work. With the subtitle, “Aim Higher.”

When I think of the word “work,” I think about my job. It’s instinctual. And I really don’t like my job most of the time (although things are getting a little bit better). So I started thinking about what I really want to do, which worked nicely with how Gretchen Rubin talked about examining how she was spending her spare time. What I really want to do (as most of you know) is write. And I do write. I have a rough draft of a manuscript that I am currently revising/slaughtering. Due to stress in other areas (like my job), I’ve really let my writing slide by the wayside. I don’t mean to, but when given the choice between working on my writing or snuggling under a blanket with a book, after a long day, I tend to choose the blanket.

Goal decided. I will apply this month’s goals to my writing “work.”

For each month, Gretchen lists the key points, key ideas that she takes into further detail as the chapter continues. The first one made me laugh.

  • Launch a blog.

Done! Moving on!

  • Enjoy the fun of failure.

Ugh. This one makes me cringe. I am a perfectionist, a Capricorn down to my toenails. Failure is not in my vocabulary. And yet, I understand what she is saying here. The fear of failure can paralyze you. Take my manuscript. (please!) This the first time I have ever finished a rough draft. Ever. This is a good thing. It means that now, I get to move on to the revision part of the writing process. But here’s the problem – I’ve never done this before. I don’t know how to revise. I do know that there were some serious issues in the rough draft, but the thought of trying to fix them was so daunting, it made it easier to find excuses not to do it at all. Not good. I need to accept the fact that I make mistakes (or a lot of mistakes in a 300+ page manuscript), learn from them, and enjoy that process. Eventually I will be able to do this without gritting my teeth.

  • Asking for help.

Another one that is tricky, but I have been working on it. I’ve been willfully avoiding my writing group because I feel guilty about the writing slump I’ve been in. During one of our email check-ins, I just came unglued and told them all that I thought I couldn’t continue, I couldn’t do it. This was also around the time I was deciding to quit grad school, so I was a bit emotional. They were very, very, very supportive, assuring me that they were there for me and I could do whatever I needed to. They also encouraged me not to give up, even if I just needed a break from things. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I have a lot of resources around me, from my family to my friends. I need to allow myself to rely on them more.

  • Work Smart

I have a lot of unrealistic goals for my spare time (no, really – you should see my day planner). One thing I can safely say is that I need to organize my time better. I tend to come up with huge to-do lists, without having a good plan to actually get things done. This is something I will try to do better.

  • Enjoy now.

This one is so simple, and yet so hard. It’s so easy for me to think about, “When I get published . . .” or “When I can finally leave my job . . .” or even “When I loose 20 pounds . . .” Everything will be better then, right? Probably not. That grass looks a lot greener from where I’m standing, but it probably isn’t. In addition to all this working, I need to let myself enjoy life too. A good example of this was last weekend. When I first heard that Maureen Johnson and Stephanie Perkins, two authors who I adore, were coming to a book signing event near my hometown, do you know what my first thought was? That I had so much stuff to do around the house, I couldn’t possibly go. Yes, I really said that, to both my husband and my mother, who both thankfully helped me change my mind. It was an impulsive decision, coming from a girl who tries to stay as far away from impulsiveness as she can. But then, every time I’ve been impulsive, I’ve been grateful that I did whatever it was that I did. Running back up to New York to try and get Alan Rickman’s autograph? Thrilling! Heading up to the mountains for a weekend with my husband? A lovely time! I need to not be afraid to do things like this, not to let my work rule my life. Do I need to write? Yes. Will the world come to an end if I spend time with my kids playing Apples-to-Apples  Junior instead? Nope. Will I feel happier? Probably so.

So official goals for March:

  1. Keep up with the blog five times per week.
  2. Try to set aside 30 minutes each day for writing time.
  3. Go ahead and submit that scene I just finished to the writer’s group.
  4. Try to do something fun each weekend, even if it’s just playing boardgames with the family.

I think that’s a pretty good start. If anyone else wants to suggest something, please go ahead. For this month, I probably need all the help I can get. See there! I just asked for help! I’m growing already!

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3 thoughts on “Happiness Project – Week #9

  1. I am impressed. Told you I bought the book a week or so ago. Yesterday, I looked at the first page. Not getting far very fast, but a start. You are doing great. Keep up the positive work and attitude.

    • I love the Happiness Project, although it sure isn’t easy. There are still a lot of January things that I haven’t finished yet. It’s a big undertaking, isn’t it!

      Good luck with your Happiness Project!

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