I pictured writing a lot more here in January. I wrote a lot for here in my head, but I didn’t get around to sitting down and documenting it at all. And now it’s February. Tomorrow. What the heck. Fortunately, ideas are forever so maybe I’ll get more dedicated to the blog again next month. And may be not.
January wasn’t awful for me. I know I’ve seen a lot of people who struggled with it, but I can’t count myself as one of them. I love the refreshing feeling of a new year, the vibe that is minus the family holiday mayhem of Christmas, but a celebratory time that can be just what you want it to be. Sure, there were some seriously disheartening events, but, I mean, LIFE. It happens. And it happens every single month. Can’t let it get you down.
I’m here now to report back on the first month of My Happiness Project. I talked about it and laid out my expectations for the month here so feel free to go back and get acquainted with what exactly I was aiming for and the details of how I was planning to get there.
I’m going to be real with you: themes and routines are not for me. I like to change things up almost constantly. I dislike doing the same thing all the time and I do not thrive within a controlled environment. I naturally wander from any pattern of doing the same thing at the same time or in the same way and if I do well in repetitive or structured behaviours, it’s because I’ve had the opportunity to shake things up regularly.
As an example, one of the things that I have successfully committed to this month has been getting back into running. It was one of my 21 for 2021 goals and I have been running three times a week since the beginning of the year. It’s great. I love it and I am genuinely pleased that I recommitted so successfully. Kevin has been running the same amount and at all the same times. He loves to take the same route every time we go out. He likes to be able to do a visual check-in at a specific spot and know that he has accomplished a certain percentage of his goal for the day. To stray from that exact path throws him off to the point that it could impact the quality of his run.
I, on the other hand, prefer the opposite. I will take an extra loop around one part one day, then a different part another day, I’ll turn around and essentially pace a certain stretch just for the purpose of changing up where and how far I’ve gone. Unlike Kevin (and most runners – this feels like a trait not shared by many,) I don’t want to know exactly how far I’ve run, how fast or slow I am doing it or how much farther I have to go. For me, knowing what I call the numbers of my run (how far/how fast/how long) could be a detriment. When I see distance markers on race courses, it can trigger a mental static in me where I obsess about what’s ahead of me instead of enjoying the moment and experience. I don’t want to know that the finish line is 2.45km away, but want to be surprised and delighted when I see it.
This is a great example of how I approach everything in life. I want to shake it up, I want to deviate from what I’ve done before and I don’t want to spend a lot of time doing things repetivitley.
This is one of my biggest concerns about attempting to complete a Happiness Project at all. How on earth and I going to keep one theme in mind for an entire month – and continue to do that TWELVE TIMES?!?!?
So, did my Make Space theme for January go perfectly? Nah. It also didn’t go as poorly as it could have. I didn’t spend time every single day actively working on the goals that I had laid out, but I did have them running through my mind in the background pretty consistently. More than boxes to be checked, they became ways of being that I applied in places/to things that I had expected to, but also in others that I hadn’t anticipated.
There were times when I felt like I needed to rein myself back in, times when 31 days didn’t feel long enough to spend a single day not ruminating on the monthly mantra and I’d beat myself up a teensy bit for not doing more. When that happened, I’d just remind myself that my successes were meant to be habit changes, not one time events and that part of the commitment spanned longer than just this month. The idea is that each month, I’ll just pick up more habits while continuing to reinforce the ones from previous months culminating in Happiness Boot Camp in December when all my new happiness habits come into play.
Here’s a breakdown of the specific targets that I had and a few comments on how they went.
- Declutter. I let go of the formality of this pretty early on. I started out sticking with 1 thing on the first, 2 things on the second and so on, but I was so enthusiastic at the beginning that it felt really stifling. If I ever attempted it again, I’d probably do it in the reverse – 31 things on the first, 30 on the second. It’s nice to harness the momentum at the beginning when you’ve got a lot to get rid of and make it a little easier as you progress and have less to part with. Overall, I definitely got rid of more than 496 items, but some days I was more dedicated than others.
- Simplify my calendar. This was fun. I really analyzed the appointments that I had in my calendar, both at home and professionally, and I kissed a lot of unnecessary time clutter goodbye. This was particularly true of commitments that I had for work. I had collected a whole lot of regular meetings that were enjoyable, but not productive. I cancelled all but two of them permanently.
- Schedule time to do the things I want to do. This is one of the tougher tasks for me. I did commit to doing things I wanted to do more frequently and for longer periods, but it was more sporadic than planned. As you can imagine, overplanning sometimes sucks the fun right our of something for me, but there are things that I do want to get better at scheduling. One of them is spending time with my calendar for the upcoming week and creating a list of goal and to dos.
- Eliminate unnecessary commitments. There is a lot of crossover between this and the simplify my calendar task. They’re largely one and the same. And equally liberating.
- Do one thing at a time. Ooof. This one is TOUGH for me. I’m not deeply committed to multitasking, but it is a deeply ingrained habit for me to be doing one thing while thinking about another.
- Let go. Yes. I’m feeling lighter already.
I’m not unhappy with the results and after reviewing them here, it’s easier for me to see that I was actually more successful than I’d initially given myself credit for.
Next up for February: it’s my Keep Moving month. More on that tomorrow.
How did your goals for January or the start of 2021 go?