I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be a BIG year for a lot of us. Don’t you? I mean, it’s still January…at the end of the day, even if you haven’t done anything but sit around and contemplate your next move (pretty much my entire 2016 to be honest), you still have almost an ENTIRE YEAR to get things going and execute something really special.
But as we strive to build our brands and businesses this year, as we push to make this year our BEST YEAR EVER, we have to make sure we don’t lose sight of those things that make us feel fulfilled and happy, and sometimes those things have absolutely nothing to do with our blogs or our businesses.
And that’s OK.
Now I will be the first person to say that you should build a brand that aligns with your interests, passion and purpose. I believe your business, blog or whatever big project you’re tackling this year should give you joy (because we all know that building something new isn’t always easy). But that doesn’t have to be all that you’re about. As creative women, we’re also pretty complex, and many of us gain inspiration from several different outlets and activities. So maybe your business is creating beautiful handmade soap: that doesn’t mean that all your happiness and joy has to come from finding fragrances and researching how to package your next batch. Take me for instance: I love blogging (I may be obsessed), but blogging isn’t the only thing that makes me happy. And it took a run-in with depression to show me that first-hand.
I found myself so sad one afternoon that I broke down and cried for almost an hour for no reason at all. So I grabbed a sheet of paper and started writing all of the things that bring me complete and utter joy. I wrote whatever came to mind for a few minutes and then I looked at my “happiness list” and realized that I wasn’t making time to do most of the things that were on that list.
We’re dreamers. We’re overachievers. All year we’ve been pushing ourselves to become the best versions of “us.” Like me, some of you are looking to launch your own businesses. But personal and professional development may not be all we need in order to feel like we’re living a full life.
Above is an excerpt from my post, “What it Means to Live Your Best Life in 2016.” The last six or so weeks have been really difficult for me. I’m only now getting out of a rut that made it impossible for me to blog for over a month. It’s been really difficult for me to cope with feeling stuck. I realized that I had made blogging my only creative outlet and totally forgotten about all of the other things that make me feel happy. My mind and body were trying to tell me that I needed a break from blogging, but I didn’t know how to be happy away from it. So I wrote up a “happiness list” of all the things I remember brought me joy before blogging was the only thing I did. It was a great exercise, and I think it’s something you might enjoy doing too!
How to Write Your Own Happiness List
Writing the happiness list is pretty straightforward. You just need time and space to be alone (without distractions). Say a prayer before you start: you’ll be amazed at the results of asking God to be a part of this process. And be careful not to edit yourself as you write; whatever comes to mind, jot it down.
- Write your list in an empty notebook. Don’t use the computer to do this; you want to see this list in your own handwriting.
- Pray; tell God why you’re writing this list, and ask for guidance as you put the list together.
- Visualize yourself in your happiest moments; think about what you’re doing, who you’re with, and where you are. Jot down words and phrases that come to mind as you remember these happy times.
- Give yourself a time limit of 15 minutes. Take a walk (or do whatever helps you clear your mind), and then come back to reflect on the list. Take note of what you’ve put on your list that you aren’t doing on a regular basis. Is there anything on the list that surprises you? What have you learned about yourself?
- Make time for happiness! Set aside some time on a regular basis (every day, every week or every month) to do one thing on your happiness list.
This is a simple exercise that made a HUGE impact in how I looked at my own happiness and how I was spending my time. It reminded me that I love playing music, yet I haven’t picked up an instrument in at least four years! It reminded me how much I love to take long walks and spend time outdoors. It reminded me of my love for animals. I was surprised that I’d forgotten or given up on so many of the things that made me truly happy. Now I’m in the process of setting aside time to get back to doing those things.
Sure, it’s important that we reach our goals and do our very best. It’s great that we want to change the world this year. But let’s be sure not to lose ourselves in the process! There will be times when we feel stuck or overwhelmed, and it’s so important that we have a “happy place” to go when we need a break from saving the world…
I’d love to hear what you’ve learned from writing a happiness list!
Share in the comments below! xo
Photo Source: Oroma Elawa for Fossil Fall/Winter 2015