Happiness Project – Week #9

Happiness Avatar

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-ApplesĀ  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!


Happiness Project – Week #5

Happiness Avatar

Due to missing several blogging days, mostly due to illness this past month, I haven’t mentioned my Happiness Project in a while. My goals for January were centered around cleaning and decluttering. Did I do everything I wanted to? No, not really. But I did make a lot of progress. My office is neater and more conducive to work. I’ve straightened out several things in my bedroom that keeps it from getting as messy as it used to.

Things I still need to work on:

  • Going to bed early. This is the number one thing. I have the hardest time doing it because I am such a night owl. I’d happily stay up until midnight or one o’clock, which doesn’t work so well when one is expected to be up by six.
  • I also didn’t add any exercise to my daily routine at all. The good news is that I switched offices at work. We work in a two story building and now, my office is on the second floor. That means a lot more moving around, since a lot of the people I deal with are still on the first floor. I need to dig out my pedometer and see just how many steps I’m getting in now.

Other things to work on:

  • Getting my closets cleaned out. This goal went completely by the wayside, which is sad because I think it would be very easy to accomplish in an afternoon on the weekend. I can’t do it this weekend, but next weekend, it is on!
  • Completing any of my “nagging tasks.” I didn’t even touch them.

So now it’s February and with the new month comes a new focus. Oh, I’ll still continue to work on January’s goals, but now it’s time to add another layer to it. And is it any surprise that February is all about marriage and relationships? Mostly, I think my husband and I have a pretty good marriage. It’s not perfect, but I don’t know anyone who has a perfect marriage. I don’t think that really exists. As I read through the February chapter, I had to think about things to work on, things to change. There are five main points that Gretchen Rubin uses for this month.

  1. Quit nagging.
  2. Don’t expect praise or appreciation.
  3. Fight right.
  4. No dumping.
  5. Give proofs of love.

The very first thing that I am going to do is talk this over with my husband. It’s easy for me to sit here and say, “But I don’t nag. I never nag!” Just because I can’t think of an example doesn’t mean I don’t do it. We tend to think of our nagging as justified, and therefore excuse it. The other points are just as hard to see from my point of view, which is why I need to figure out exactly where my weaknesses are by being up front and honest (although #5 seems pretty straightforward, and is definitely something I need to work on).

So the Happiness Project is chugging right along. Is it helping? Am I happier? In some ways, I can easily say, “Yes.” There are some stressful things that have been removed from my life, just with a little focus and work on my part. Hopefully that will keep increasing as I add more levels to the project as a whole.

Happiness Project – Week #1

Happiness Avatar

As promised, here is my Friday round-up post for the Happiness Project. Before I get into what I’ve done this week, let me tell you a bit about the Project itself.

One day while browsing around Borders (may they rest in peace), I came across a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The cover was bright and colorful, so I picked it up to read the blurb. Here’s the jist – despite having all the things that people assume will bring you “happiness,” Gretchen realized that she wasn’t a very happy person. So she spent a year researching what true happiness was, looking at everything from scientific studies to the words of the Dalai Lama. This book is an overview of her journey, along with tips on how to do your own Happiness Project.

For me, this seemed like a bolt of lightening out of the blue. I too had all the things that was supposed to make someone happy, and yet I wasn’t. I could never understand why I allowed myself to get so stressed or angry over small things. I immediately bought the book, looking forward to the miraculous change it would bring to my life.

And then it sat on my bookshelf for six months.

This year, I decided to go for it. I pulled my mother in with me because I knew she could probably benefit from the Project, but also because it’s always easier to do something when you have a partner in crime. I bought her the book for Christmas, along with a matching journal, and off we went.

The month of January is meant to focus on energy, recognizing all the things that drain you of energy and trying to either change them or eliminate them completely. It’s harder than you would think. So after reading the first chapter, here are my January goals for the Happiness Project.

  1. Get to bed earlier. I am such a night owl. I could easily stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, which of course makes me feel terrible the next day. My plan is to try for lights out at 11. That might seem late to some people, but for me, that’s a vast improvement.
  2. Going along with that sentiment, I am going to try to disconnect myself from anything with a screen starting at 10:30, if not earlier. Studies have proven that having a screen in front of your face (whether it’s a computer, a television, or even a smart phone) stimulates the brain and makes it harder to completely relax. Not what you want when trying to get to sleep. Even though I usually read before bed, I’m including my Kindle in this. At 10:30, I’ll switch to a regular book.
  3. Walk more. It’s an exercise thing, which I’m not good at, but I want to try and wear my pedometer again. Right after Christmas, I had to run to the local mall on my lunch break and it was actually nice walking around there, looking at stuff. I might try to do that more often, since it’s too cold right now to walk much outside.
  4. Declutter. This was something that I had never really considered, but having a lot of clutter around the house can zap your energy right out. Especially when it gets so bad, you don’t know where to start to clean it up. You feel hopeless and, since you can’t figure out what to do, you just do nothing. Except feel bad about it. I went around, room by room, and made a list of all the places in the house that need decluttering. It’s going to take a while, but that’s fine. I’m going to start in my office, since grad school starts next week. It would be nice to have a clear, clean workspace.

So there you have it! My goals for January in the Happiness Project. Every Friday, I will keep everyone up to date with how it’s going. Keep an eye on the comments, because my mom might pipe up with her progress too.