Happiness Project: February

You may have noticed that this past month I haven’t been posting quite so often and not nearly as much as I would like to. This is primarily due to February’s Happiness Project Goal, which ironically didn’t leave me with enough time to make or bake anything that would have lead to a post. So, what goal would that be, Eleanor?

Productivity

:productivity |ˌprōˌdəkˈtivətē, ˌprädək-,prəˌdək-|noun: the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create,enhance, or bring forth goods and services

Throughout February (yes, I am aware that we still have 9 days left of the month) I have resolved to be as productive as I can be. Productivity is something that is always in my mind, the ultimate goal in a way. It’s something that I feel I often struggle with – especially at Uni when assignments are due. I can be an outstanding procrastinator, which is essentially the direct opposite of being productive. I am of the opinion that when you are being productive you do not feel as though you are just getting things done, but that you are achieving. For me, the feeling of daily achievements is a big contributor to happiness. How often do you feel down on yourself as a result of procrastination or falling short of your potential? Hopefully not too often, but for me that guilt was too present for my liking. Which brings me to my resolutions for February, the month of Productivity.

  1. Work as much as possible
  2. Write daily “to achieve” lists rather that “to do” lists
  3. Each night, reflect on what I achieved that day
  4. Use any spare time to work on nagging tasks, future projects, things that need to get done

Looking at this list of resolutions now, after 20 days of doing so, it’s a bit unrealistic. I’ll tell you why. While all my resolutions are working in favour of constantly achieving and feeling productive, I didn’t really allow myself any down time. This was a mistake. My average day this month has looked something like this:

  • Up at 5.00am/5.30am
  • Personal Training, Client 1: 6.30am – 7.30am
  • Personal Training, Client 2: 7.30am – 8.30am
  • Work at a Childcare Centre 8.30am/9.00am – 3.30pm
  • Work on PT programs, answer e-mails, work on business proposal etc during 45min lunch break
  • Nanny 3.30pm/4.00pm – 6.00pm
  • Dance classes 6.30pm – 9.30pm
  • Home at 10.00pm
  • Write a program for PT sessions
  • In bed by 11.00pm

This may or may not seem a bit hectic to you, I know many people do a lot more. Unfortunately, I have a shocking immune system that doesn’t seem to agree with my goal of productivity. I have been fighting off colds and headaches all month and fell in a heap this weekend.

I am writing this post mid-month as opposed to writing a summary of my month once it’s over because it’s not working as well as it could be. I now resolve to work smarter. So, rather than constantly working and always being on, I resolve to be more productive in shorter bursts of time. I also think I need to take the time for active relaxation. By which I mean things like yoga or meditation, not just sitting on the couch vegging out – that is not active relaxation, it’s passive relaxation.

Which all brings me to a little teaser for next month’s goal… Health. I am so excited about this one. I’ve been reading this wonderful book; The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder and am planning on putting a lot of her principles into  practice in March.

Stay tuned!

Eleanor x

Happiness Project: January

I had been meaning to write a post all month about my Happiness Project goals for January. Considering what my goal was, it’s a bit ironic that I never got around to doing it.

However, being the very first month of my Happiness Project and wanting to test the waters a bit, I thought it better to write an update about my progress once the month was through.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m on about, here’s a bit more information about my Happiness Project. There’s also a bit of a spiel about the tools I’ve been using for my Happiness Project here.

Now, I want to be clear about why I chose to do a Happiness Project. Judging by the name, it is understandable that many people will assume that the only reason to undertake a project focussing on happiness would be because you’re not. But that’s not what this is. A Happiness Project is not about digging yourself out of depression or trying to be happy because you ultimately are not. That is not an issue I need to address. Rather, what Gretchen Rubin (the author of The Happiness Project – my source of inspiration for starting my own Happiness Project) aimed to achieve by creating the Happiness Project was not nearly as contentious. Rubin argues that many people state that what they want out of life is purely to “be happy”, but that most people don’t put in any effort to achieve this goal. Simply put, the aim is to actively do things in your own life to create more happiness. She created The Happiness Project, in which she focussed each month on a different goal, with resolutions to actively seek out happiness in her own life. I have done the same.

So, what was my goal and overall theme for the month of January?

Enterprise

:enterprise |ˈentərˌprīz|noun1 a project or undertaking, typically one that is difficult or requires effort

It took a bit of brainstorming to come up with a name for what I wanted to achieve in my first month of my Happiness Project. Basically, I wanted to use this month to start fresh, do things that I have been “meaning to do” or putting off for one reason or another and start new endeavours. So I came up with enterprise, which sounded to me like the perfect word to sum up my goals.

This is the list of resolutions I wrote at the start of the month:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Start a small Personal Training Business and start training clients
  3. Complete a cupcake order for an event
  4. Start ballet and aerials classes (silks, trapeze, rope and hoop)
  5. Score a job that is vaguely relevant to prospective career and that will fit well around Uni

I also tried to spend the month taking advantage of any opportunities that came my way as well as making a point of using any free time to work towards my goals.

So, how did I go?

I am happy to report that I managed to keep all my resolutions for the month. YAY!!! Along with the above five resolutions I also took the time to do things I had been putting off for a while, like going to the doctor for a check-up and giving blood (I give every few months but kept forgetting to rebook). I had also been planning on doing a detox in my health focussed month of my Happiness Project this year but decided to stop putting off doing another juice cleanse and do it now. You can read about that adventure here.

By tackling my resolutions in January, I felt such a wonderful sense of achievement that, yes, made me happy. Oddly enough, while having brunch with some horoscope-obsessed girlfriends this morning, I was read my horoscope and rather surprised by Taurus’ golden nugget of (amazingly relevant) advice from Jonathan Cainer:

“If we only ever allow ourselves to feel good when we think we’ve got a good reason, we’re really limiting our lives. You need no explanations or justifications now. You just need to trust what you feel.”

Whether you believe in horoscopes or not, I think that’s pretty damn good advice.

Eleanor x

Happiness Project – Tools:

After I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I bought several copies for my closest family and friends to read in the hopes they would get as much out of it as I had. Today, I caught up with one of my closest and most wonderful friends for our first “Happiness Project Date”. We chatted about what we ultimately wanted to achieve this year with our own version of Rubin’s Happiness Project and what our monthly themes could be and the resolutions we would attempt to stick to during each month. We both agreed that January would be a month of focus and organisation as well as new beginnings in order to set ourselves up for the year and for the following eleven months of resolutions and goals.

As I mentioned in a previous post I am completely and utterly obsessed with kikki.K. As such, their amazing workbooks, journals and stationary have been a major aspect  in the development of my Happiness Project. This probably sounds a bit too obsessive, right? Let me explain. They have a series of notebooks, divided into sections that aim to help you put together your thoughts about your personal development.

I have been using their Goals Book, Wellbeing Journal and Gratitude Book in the development of my Happiness Project and I think they will be invaluable tools in tracking my progress during my year of happiness.

The Goals Book is split onto Personal Development, Family & Relationships, Finance & Career, Health & Fitness and Dare to Dream with pages for you to write the steps needed to get you to each specific goal as well as a mind map for your ‘perfect life’ and questions to work through to realise your goals.

The Wellbeing Journal includes the tabbed sections Body, Mind, Surrounding and Journal with specific pages to help you set goals in relation to food, exercise, sleep, time for yourself, positive thinking, stress reduction, reclaiming time, social wellbeing, personal surroundings and our planet.

The Gratitude Book is more of a simpler format filled with lined pages for you to write down three things you are grateful for each day. I think it is very important not only to take time to think about what you are grateful for in your life, but also to show it through your actions. This book is great as well because it comes with 10 postcards that you can send to people telling them what you are grateful for.

 

So, these are the tools that I will be using to create and track my happiness project. In my next post I will detail my goals for the month of January and share my personal resolutions.

 

“It’s your world.

You’re a shareholder,

take an active interest in it”

Anonymous-

 

Eleanor x

My Happiness Project

I cannot even count how many times I tried to write an intro to this post. The fact is, I am not the one to clearly explain what a Happiness Project is. The idea comes from author Gretchen Rubin who just so happens to have written a book called The Happiness Project. “It is the account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier.”

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Amazon

In her very first blog post (one of the tasks she set herself during her Happiness Project) Rubin describes her venture like this:

“Now, what is the Happiness Project? One afternoon a few years ago, I realized with a jolt that I was allowing my life to flash by without facing a critical question: was I happy? From that moment, I couldn’t stop thinking about happiness. Was it mostly a product of temperament? Could I take steps to be happier? What did it even mean to be “happy”? So The Happiness Project is my memoir of one year in which I test-drive every principle, tip, theory, and research-study result I can find, from Aristotle to St. Therese to Benjamin Franklin to Martin Seligman to Oprah. What advice actually works?”

It is a wonderful book that I picked up mid-last year after seeing a referral to it in a magazine. The entire time I was reading it, I had a massive grin on my face, I could relate to many of the things she spoke about.

According to Rubin:

“A “happiness project” is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.”

Rubin designed her Happiness Project so that each of the twelve months of the year would have a set theme about something she wanted to tackle in relation to happiness and she created resolutions around that theme to adopt during the month, building on more each month. She tackled Vitality, Marriage, Work, Parenthood, Leisure, Friendship, Money, Eternity, Books, Attitude and Happiness.

Upon reading this wonderful book I decided I wanted to embark on my own Happiness Project. Of course, mine cannot mimic Gretchen Rubin’s as not everything applies to my life. I have been preparing for a while and identifying some themes I would like to focus on. I am now working on making my own resolutions.

I don’t want to write an essay of a post, so I’ll just leave it at that for today and I’ll keep you updated with my progress.

If you like the sound of starting your own Happiness Project, or are intrigued to learn more, I suggest you buy the book or head to The Happiness Project Blog.

Eleanor x