2017 Goals: Living a Happy Life

4:24:00 PM

I have always thought the start of a new year was a great time to evaluate your life, habits, and goals. Something about coming down off the high of the holidays, realizing that you have enjoyed that time so much that all your normal routines and habits have been placed on hold is really encouraging for me. After times like this I am always craving that structure and control back in my life. This year was no different, although the way I am doing it in a new way. 

2017 is going to be a crazy year for us, and honestly I don't think I can predict what will or won't happen well enough to create the typical kinds of goals we traditionally think of as resolutions. The biggest change is going to be that in February we will be having our second child only a year behind his sister. That is going to rock our world in so many amazing ways, but also in some ways we don't have any control over. When looking at resolutions there is no way I can predict how many pounds I will be able to loose, what time every day I should get out of bed, or how many date nights Brett and I are able to go on, as well as nearly everything else. I have been spending the last couple months trying to convince myself that "doing our best" was just going to have to be good enough for 2017 but I didn't know how. I wanted to achieve, not just survive!

And then a hold I had placed at the library months before became available and my heart sang. I finally had the chance to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I was able to come to grips with what "doing our best" could actually look like in actionable and measurable ways. I had been feeling just like Gretchen describes herself at the beginning. I knew that I was happy, that I had family and friends that loved me, that I was happy with the core of who I was, what I had accomplished, where I was in life, and what the future held. But even though I knew these things if I sat down and thought about it, did I act like it? Was I allowing myself to actually be and act happy? Were there ways that I could mature and grow the happiness in my life in areas that already existed? The more I read and thought the more I realized how happy I actually was, and yet how much I could do to be even more so. 

I started thinking about what things make me happy, what things didn't, making lists and talking Brett's ear off. But finally I have come up with a manageable list of small changes in my life I can make to grow the happiness I have, and by spillover, the happiness in our home and in my relationships. My Happiness Project doesn't have the same format as Gretchen outlines (a focus each month, building up until at the end of the year you are keeping the goals from all the months combined), but is set up in a way that I have seen work for me. 

I have a master list of categories that I want to be happy in, and underneath each category are 4 things that I can do in order to foster happiness and routine (routines are one of the things that make me happy!). Some of my categories are Spirituality, Marriage, Parenting, Health, Blog, Community, Home, Atmosphere, Energy.  I can look at this list and be reminded of the big picture abstract and concrete things I want to be focusing on throughout the year.

Then I printed off 10 copies of this printable from Elise Joy and picked 10 things from my master list that I felt like I could track daily. A few of them are still fairly abstract, like "Act How I Want to Feel" and will encourage some reflection rather than just check marks. I also simplified some of the goals down to remove the pressure and increased chance for failure with the busy year ahead. For example, instead of saying "Wake up at 6:30 every day" I decided on "Wake up on time". Maybe I am up all night with a baby and we both need that extra time for sleep in order to function that day. I know that by saying "wake up on time" I am giving myself the chance to evaluate what stage I am in and act accordingly. As baby schedules change, so can mine, yet I know from experience that I am a happier and better mom if I wake up even 10 minutes before my kids, change clothes, brush my teeth and put in my contacts, so that is the habit I want to grow. Here are the rest of what I picked out--  

  1. Daily Spiritual Study
  2. Wake Up On Time
  3. Write Something Daily
  4. Eat Real Meals
  5. Practice Yoga Daily
  6. One Sentence Journal
  7. House Evening Tidy Up
  8. Give and Show Proofs of Love
  9. Do a Nagging Task
  10. Act How I Want to Feel

The thing I love about these lists from Elise is that the whole year is on one page with simple bubbles. A few years ago I made a spreadsheet that did the same thing and it was so effective for me! I color code mine to be green=success, red=fail, blue=n/a (like how I don't exercise on Sunday, I'm not going to fail myself that day). Seeing these colors fill in throughout the year and the patterns and trends is so helpful in evaluating my habits and making changes. 

So here is to 2017, the year where "Doing Our Best" is going to be awesome and we are going to be happier, no matter how busy we may find ourselves.

What are some other perspectives that you can take to New Year Resolultions? How do you balance your expectations and reality of what you can actually accomplish?

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