Better

July 29, 2009

I did a little work on both new writing projects today. Nothing major, but something: a start. I’ve decided to plug these two endeavors into my Happiness Project, sort of. A word of explanation here…

Gretchen Rubin started the Happiness Project. You can read her story at the link above. Her project overlapped my life when she asked the readers of her blog if any of us wanted to start a Happiness Project Group. I volunteered, got the starter kit, and away I went with about half a dozen other people. It seems to be growing, very slowly, and it’s been a lot of fun so far.

The cornerstone of a Happiness Project is resolutions. You pick small, measurable things you can do every day to make yourself happier. My favorite example is the woman who loves relaxing on her porch, but rarely finds the time to do it. Her first resolution was to enjoy a glass of tea on her porch every evening. It’s perfect: simple, specific, and easy to measure: either she does it or she doesn’t. You can also take the option of doing less easy things, like biting your tongue when you’re tempted to say something crabby, but I advocated for baby steps for my group’s first month.

Keeping track of whether I’ve followed my Happiness Resolutions every day has been good for me. It’s also gotten me into the habit of looking at my resolutions chart every time I go near it. It’s been a few hours; maybe I can check off another one! With that habit established, a few other things that I really should do every day, but usually don’t, popped into my head. Right after that, I had my Happiness list at the top of an Excel spreadsheet, and I was adding my daily chores, a knitting project, life goals review, and “something (anything) for the wedding” under that. Plus a couple weekly items. It sounds overwhelming, but most of the things on the list only take ten minutes, if that.

Now I have a life scorecard, with about 15 points possible per day. That is where I put my writing. I know it deserves more than a ten-minute slot on my to-do list, but if it’s on the daily chart, I know I’ll give it at least that much attention every day. If nothing else, I’ll jot down some notes or an idea that I might otherwise have forgotten.

As much as I like dramatic leaps forward, I have come around to the notion that gradual progress works best. Also, my life is full and busy. It’s easy enough to lose track of my obligations to other people. If I want to do anything for me (and I want to do a lot for me… like write), I need to use some kind of system to keep a handle on everything. This one is simple, progress is measurable, and I can start fresh every day.

8 out of 15 is my average so far. If this were a class, I’d be failing, but it’s life, so I’m doing great.

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