This January, I bought a journal that had the following ideas on the cover:
I had been looking for the perfect replacement journal for months. My previous (and beloved) journal of 14 years had finally ran out of space, and I was looking to get into some regular journaling. When I saw the black and gold journal with those simple directives on the cover, it immediately spoke to me, and I knew I had my 2017 journal. These three commands got me thinking. While I strive to be kind every day, I would not necessarily consider myself brave, and I sometimes hesitate to definitively say that I’m awesome. So, if this was the cover of my 2017 journal, I should strive to “Be Kind, Be Brave, and Be Awesome.”
Around the same time, I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. In the book, Rubin chronicles her adventures in a year in which she set goals to make herself happier. A researcher of human happiness, Rubin is no stranger to the idea of happiness. At the beginning of the book, she notes that she is pretty happy in her life, but she can always strive to be happier and improve herself. The idea of this really made sense to me. In what small ways can I make subtle changes to improve my life? I started my own “happiness project” in the middle of January with vague ideas and goals for each month. This was incredibly difficult for me for 2 reasons. 1, I am incredibly systematic and linear in the way I think. Starting a project about self-improvement in the middle of the month (let alone a good week after the new year) made me stressed out because I had already “missed out on time.” Secondly, I tried to follow Rubin’s exact project and formula. I set vague themes for each month, and then I set sub-goals that were more specific, but still fairly vague and sometimes unattainable. The January goal of ‘Get Rid of Things that No Longer Serve Me’ worked for a short time when I was getting rid of clothing, but it became a lot harder to accomplish when I had purged my closet and tried to become more metaphoric in my cleansing. And while I like the idea of many of my goals ( the March goal of reach out to an old friend or talk to someone new every day is still something I’d like to accomplish), I found myself retroactively making up ways that I have accomplished my goal so I can give myself a check mark instead of actively trying to meet that goal.
So now, I am here, April 2, 2017. I am starting a new project. My linear and organized brain is having a very hard time with this because I am starting a project without a clear demarcation of a new event. It’s not a new year or a new month or even new school year. I haven’t moved somewhere new, nor have I turned a year older. But, it is a new day, and I can count today as the start of a new year.
This project will be similar to my “Happiness Project” but have clear goals and guidelines. I will set out to complete a new goal every 30 days. It may be a concrete project, like knitting, or something more abstract that can continue, such as calling an old friend or exercising daily, but I will be focusing specifically on on goal every 30 days. Instead of setting multiple goals per month. I will set one. In order to keep myself accountable, I will be blogging about my adventure. Each goal will be attainable and affordable (I am a teacher after all, and my time and resources are not abundant).
And, because I hate to quit things I’ve already started, I’ll keep up with my vague happiness journal and allow the goals I’ve already set for myself to be guidelines for my concrete goals and objectives.
So, all that’s left is to start my project. Stay tuned to tomorrow’s post to find out my first challenge. (I’m marking April 3 as the start of the first 30 day project)
Here’s to the start of a new trip around the sun!