Monday, February 3, 2014

My 2014, one month in.

The purpose of life is a life of purpose: 2014 New Years ResolutionsWhen New Years Day arrived, I realized I hadn't given any thought to resolutions. Gosh, surviving Christmas was so tough, and the littlest things are more complicated when a newborn is involved. I guess what it boiled down to is that 2013 was just such a downer year for me - I almost forgot that I could make resolutions for myself. So with my baby sleeping in my lap, I opened up a few fresh spreadsheets and thought - what do I want for myself this year?

I wrote down the biggest responsibilities in my life - the kids, my husband, my part-time job, my etsy shop, my volunteer job, this blog, my house, and myself. This is the part where you tell me that I shouldn't put myself last on the list...I know, I know. But the fact that I'm even on it is a step in the right direction for me.

Next, I decided what I wanted to see happen in each of those categories this year. It started as a loose list of ideas for each thing, and then I went through and made some flexible timelines for each goal. Pretty soon, I had a monthly to do list of things to cross off, and a schedule that would allow me to actually accomplish everything. That's not to say that I sit down with a planner every morning and follow it to a T - things change constantly. But when I see timelines looming, I know what needs to get done and when. It's not normally a system I work with, but now that I have three kids, it's pretty much a necessity if I want to get anything done at all. It's left me feeling inspired, motivated, capable, and excited.

I am loving my 2014 so far!

However, when it came to planning things for just myself, I was a little overwhelmed with all of it. I'm okay with things taking time, but it's so easy to forget about myself when I'm busy crossing off the tangible items in the other, more pressing aspects of my life.

So, to organize my own goals, I decided to take a page from my husband's book of resolutions, and pick a key word for each month. I had a hard time picking something for each specific month, because I wasn't sure what I'd really feel motivated to do when the time came. So for January, I picked the thing I most wanted to work on and just made a list of ideas to chose from for the rest of the year. And as it happens, I found my new motivation just in time for February 1st - so far, so good!

This might seem off-topic, but - - have you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? I'm about half-way through. I read some reviews about it on Good Reads, and I'm surprised at the mixed reactions. I don't know, though - I'm learning that a lot of the people that take the time to write those reviews are just so negative. Like they want to be the person that finds the fault in a person's hard work (yay for you, here's a cookie!). A lot of people picked on her for having a decent life and still feeling the need to go on a quest for happiness. They shamed her for thinking it was necessary when there are people dealing with actual hard things. But to them I say, shame shame. If anyone wants to find more beauty, more positivity, and more love - they should do it. And they should motivate others to do the same.

So thank you Gretchen Rubin, because you've done that for me!

At any rate, I picked up The Happiness Project at the start of the year, because it felt fitting. Gosh - I had no idea how fitting and inspiring it would be! This came on the heels of my goal setting, so when I saw the plan of attack in The Happiness Project, I was pretty excited. She ran her year-long quest to increase happiness by concentrating on a certain aspect each month of the year, setting habits as she went. Reading her progress makes it all feel so doable!

As she did each month, I want to review my January before moving onto February's goals.

And here's the short and sweet. January's concentration was my husband - loving him actively, making his life easier/happier, and being a good wife. I feel like my success was sort of middle of the road. I crossed some of my goals off the list, and totally forgot about others. But, goodness - I feel like having a newborn blocks me from doing so much! I try to cut myself a little slack, but some days I just wish for the moments when I could do something from start to finish!

I think I did make my husband a little happier. He seemed to have more good days than normal, and I know that sounds dismal - but he is so stressed usually with working so much and getting his MBA at the same time. I feel like I was happier when I was working to make him happy (it was sort of infectious at times). But we did have one pretty decent argument, and just this past week, I had 2-3 grumpy days that threatened to drag him down. But nothing is ever really perfect, is it?

Some of the things I did get around to doing:

  • Unexpectedly making him lunch while he was working. I actually made him two sandwiches and a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream. When I gave it to him he said, "Wow, you must really love me," and I couldn't help but thinking...mission accomplished!
  • Brought him home a surprise coffee from Starbucks, just because.
  • Gave him 3 spontaneous non-returning back rubs, because I know he gets lots of knots from holding the babies all the time. Even though they were non-returning at the time, he gave me some spontaneous foot rubs over the past couple weeks, and I couldn't help but think they were his thank you.
  • I hid a handful of SHMILY coins all over the house for him. He was sweet and played along - hiding them for me whenever he found one. I'd re-hide them for him, and for a week we had a lot of fun with them.
  • I offered to pay for something that he normally would have paid for. He seemed really relieved, actually!

There were some specific things on my list of ideas that I never got around writing him a love letter, buying him a surprise gift just because, surprising him with a 6 pack. BUT, I'm hoping to keep them on my list for February, because I've chosen my concentration - Connections. 

I want to spend some time on the relationships in my life - all levels of them. My main goal is to be a little more outward in my attempts at being close to people. I'm an introvert at heart, but I still really treasure many of the friendships in my life, and because of my tough pregnancy and the business of having a newborn, I haven't been able to be on the giving end of any of my relationships. As with every other word I've tried to settle on, I think - maybe I should wait until later in the year when I have more time and freedom. But that doesn't work, either, because I can't do everything at the end of the year. So I'm embracing what motivates me, making reasonable goals for the situation I'm in each month (which is basically relying on where Jake is developmentally), and forgiving myself for my shortcomings. That's all any mother can do, right?

I also want to form some other connections, here on my blog. My favorite thing about the blogging community is the people that are here - the wonderful, creative, inspiring, caring people behind the blogs and shops I see every day. I want to surround myself with the uplifting, happy, good people.

I want to continue to work on the most important relationship in my life - the one I share with my husband. I hope to cross off a few more goals for him, and continue seeing him in the loving light I tried to view him through in January.

I'd share some more specifics, but I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone reading this that knows me IRL. So I'll share more about that when I review how February went.

I don't know if this is actually a Happiness Project or not - I think that my goals each month may lead to more happiness in my life, but this is more about actually remembering myself than anything. I paid very little attention to me in 2013, and I'd like to get a little of that back!

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