Energy – Week 7

To read the introduction to my Happiness Project, click here.

To read my week 6 progress, click here.

This week I have been looking at the second chapter of Bill Ford’s High Energy Habits – Get rid of the little things that annoy you. Bill states that we should identify the little things that we intend to fix and start sorting them out, as it takes energy to ignore them.

Bill says that if you only choose one thing in the book to do, this should be it as it will give you the most immediate payback for the effort you put in.

Write a list of all the little things that annoy you. You could include such things as:

  • a loose or missing button
  • shelves that sag with too much stuff
  • e-mail back log
  • a dripping tap
  • mould around the bath
  • light bulbs that need replacing
  • things that need to be returned to shops
  • odd assortment of things waiting to be glued
  • no room in filing cabinet
  • drawer that doesn’t shut properly
  • house not finished
  • car breaking down
  • garden in poor state
  • noise
  • double glazing sales people calling in the evenings
  • committee participation
  • weight
  • divorce not finalised
  • newspapers waiting to be read

Some of the items will be small and others bigger which is fine. All of these types of things are a drain on our energy as they niggle away at us and slow us down. A lot of the time we know what we have to do to fix these things but we never get around to doing it. We don’t feel they are important enough or serious enough for us to deal with immediately, so we keep putting them off. If we’re not careful years can pass before we know it.

Other sources of annoyance could include children’s behaviour, our habits, the car, our body, the behaviour of others, the office, colleagues and equipment. Once you start noticing all these little things you will find they are all over the place.

Ford suggests starting by dividing your list into work items (if applicable) and personal items. Start noticing more and more how much there is that is not the way you want it to be. You will start to notice more as your sensitivity increases and you can keep adding to the list over time.

Pick three easy ones to complete in the next week (ones that you know how to fix and won’t take too long). Then keep going. The momentum will build. You will need to come back to your list on a regular basis as you add and remove more. If you don’t know how to fix something or can’t afford to do so, or are reluctant to acknowledge it, write it down, as sometimes just doing that will help.

My first item that I dealt with this week was to fix my daughter’s clothes drawer. Everytime I went to put her clothes away I would forget it was broken and pull the handles and the front panel would come off. It really annoys me every time as I have to spend time and energy fiddling with it trying to put it back together which may or may not involve emptying the entire drawer (the contents having probably fallen out when attempting to fix the drawer without emptying it first). Then of course refolding all the clothes and saying that next time I will remember that the drawer is broken! It’s ridiculous to go through such a palava when all it needs is a bit of glue. So, said drawer has now been fixed and I am very happy about that!

My second item was my son’s pyjama drawer which was jam packed full of pyjamas. Everytime I would put his pyjamas away I would be shoving and stuffing them in scraping my knuckles on the top of the drawer. Again, ridiculous. It took me about 10 minutes to go through it and take out the pyjamas that no longer fitted him and bagged them up for charity. Job done!

My third annoyance was my daughter not tidying up her desk when she had finished with it at the end of the day. I solved this by showing her how to put things back in their place so we know where to find them. She is always losing things because they have been left out someplace. I then made it into a game where we spend 10 minutes each evening tidying up all flat surfaces. If they complete it, they get an extra 10 mins on their tablets the next day. If they don’t – they lose 10 mins.

Here is a quick recap on how I am getting on with my other resolutions for February.

My music play list

Katy Perry

I have been choosing a song a day (sometimes with the help of my children). I am also listening to some of the songs during the day and I find that I am singing a lot more too. Here is my playlist so far:

  • Firework – Katy Perry
  • Roar – Katie Perry
  • Black Magic – Little Mix
  • Dance Monkey – Tones and I
  • Whenever, Wherever – Shakira
  • Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira
  • Mamma Mia – ABBA
  • Stitches – Shawn Mendez
  • Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
  • Single Ladies – Beyonce
  • All About That Bass – Meghan Trainer
  • Crazy In Love – Beyonce
  • Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
  • Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
  • Hey Mickey – Toni Basil

My next resolution was 10,000 steps a day (or 60,000 a week). Have completed so far.

Apart from a bumpy start at the beginning of the month which I wrote about in my last post, I have now found my happy place with cutting out unhealthy snacks and have in fact overhauled my entire way of eatingthanks to @collegenutritionist on Instagram. This week I have lost 1.3kg and I am at my lowest weight since September! I have also cut out alcohol so far in February.

My last resolution was to drink 1,893ml water a day which I have completed successfully so far.

I will publish my week 8 progress on the 25th February.

Energy – Week 6

High Energy Habits

To read the introduction to my Happiness Project, click here.

To read my week 5 progress, click here.

This week I have been focusing on the little things I can do to prepare well for having more energy. Becoming more self aware and having higher expectations for the quality of my life are part of that. I focused on making some attitude shifts which would help me make faster progress to feeling more energised. This post will outline the first chapter of Bill Ford’s High Energy Habits.

Here are some of the areas I worked on specifically this week:

  • Pay attention to the ‘little’ voice.
  • Be selfish (about self-care).
  • Be more assertive about what you want.
  • Shift from ‘make do’ to ‘can do’ (give yourself permission to want what you want).
  • Become more sensitive and pay attention to the details.
  • Notice what drains your energy and what increases it.
  • Take lots of small steps.
  • Take daily action (thinking is not enough).

Pay attention to the little voice

Bill Ford states that this is the single most important way of increasing your energy. Many people often don’t take notice or even ignore it. Our minds are sending us life messages all the time and if we are present and listening we can take these messages and implement their lessons. When we don’t listen to these messages we start to have problems and if we don’t deal with those quickly enough we could then have a crisis on our hands.

An example from my life this week was that I felt I had got off to a bad start with this month’s theme. I started to become disillusioned about the whole process. I’d had a couple of bad days of eating unhealthily and I had let my self-care go a bit as I had a very busy few days at home. By mid-week, I felt like a complete failure and all I could see was that I’d ruined my resolution to cut out unhealthy snacks

I decided to step back and think about what had happened and I realised that the way I had planned to keep my diet on track had grown a bit old and had been bothering me for some time. I had eaten ‘healthily’ the same way for a long time and I had become bored of eating the same things over and over, even though I knew it worked. I needed something different. I spent the day looking at different ways I could eat healthier but with more variety. I came across a really fantastic Instagram account @collegenutritionist and I really loved the way she meal planned. So I came up with a plan to implement it.

#thatformula from @collegenutritionist

Had I listened to my nagging feelings straight away, I may not have wasted those few days feeling really bad about myself. Stopping and planning works really well for me as I realised I had completely overlooked the fact that I was succeeding with every other resolution I had set myself. Just messing up on one was enough to create a snowball effect and nearly having me give up the whole thing.

Sometimes when we are busy it is hard to hear the little voice sending us messages so I decided to put aside 20 minutes a day where I could sit quietly doing nothing and be open to them. Other things you can do are a meditative practice or journalling. When I looked back at my journal I found that I had mentioned my diet quite a lot but had not paid attention to it.

#thatformula from @collegenutritionist

Become more sensitive and pay attention to others

Our bodies are also sending us messages that we should listen to. We need to be aware of what is going on inside our bodies and how it affects us. The more we are aware of our bodies messages, the better we get at it and it is worth spending some time learning how to do this.

First, you need to choose which senses to work on. Visual and auditory refer to using your eyes and ears and kinaesthetic refers to movement and feelings. You can look broadly (your leg) or narrowly (your big toe), internally or externally. Examples to focus on might include:

  • What is going on in your little toe on your left foot?
  • Listen to all the noises outside the room.
  • Look at the index finger nail on your right hand.

Spend 5 minutes noticing the details. I added 5 minutes on to my 20 minutes of quiet time which worked well for me. This helps with all those silly, little things too, like going to the toilet when we actually need to go rather than holding it until we’ve just finished one last task! Eating when we’re hungry rather than mindlessly shoveling in food when we don’t need it.

Be selfish (about self-care)

This one definitely went awry for me at the beginning of the week and it made me feel just awful. We definitely need to prioritize self-care. The better shape we are in, the more help we can be to others and ourselves. When we are always trying to meet everyone else’s needs and not our own it can make us irritable (as my kids found out at the beginning of the week!).

This isn’t just about showering, washing our hair, having a manicure or getting a haircut. Self-care can also include learning to say ‘No’. Many people find this difficult to do. We are always saying ‘No’ to something whenever we make a choice as it defines where our time is spent. We have to make sure that when we are saying ‘yes’ to something that it isn’t taking time away from something more valuable.

Be more assertive about what you want

We need to become less reasonable and compliant. Less willing to ‘fit in’. Less obliged to please others all the time. You probably only have one life, so make it the one you want.

A lot of people have difficulty being assertive, particularly when they need to have a difficult conversation. Ford suggests preparing for it by spending 5 minutes writing down the answer to the following question:

If you were not concerned about their reaction, what would you want to say to them?

This question gives you the advantage of separating yourself from the emotion allowing you to be more clear and concise. You can then think about how you will handle the emotional reaction and how it can be minimised.

You can also use the following sequence to make a request:

  • 1. When you do… (name the behaviour)
  • 2. I feel… (name the feeling)
  • 3. And what I would like is… (make a request)

Some examples from my week:

Family day out!

For the kids (feels very silly, but it works)

When you don’t listen to me and carry on what you are doing, I feel sad, and what I would like is for you to stop what you are doing and look at me ready to listen. Will you?

For my partner

When you use my pink kitchen cloths to wipe the bathroom floor, I feel frustrated, and what I would like is for you to use kitchen roll on the floors so it can be disposed of. Will you?

I felt really patronising saying this to him. As it turned out he was really pleased that I had made things clear and that he had no idea that I had different coloured cloths for different rooms. Who knew? Adding ‘Will you?’ to the end ensures that they have heard what you said and is a useful check on their commitment.

‘Make do’ to ‘can do’

This is an attitude shift of accepting that you want things and that it is possible, reasonable and achievable. Accept that ‘getting by’ is no longer good enough and that you deserve better. We can always find excuses for not taking action as our circumstances can seem fixed unless something comes along to challenge or change them.

Instead of saying ‘I can’t afford it’, say, ‘How can I afford it?’

I was getting a little down looking at my 20 for 2020 list as there were a lot of family outings on there and I felt like we just couldn’t afford to do them. I felt this way as Christmas had just been and gone, then my daughter’s birthday and my son’s was in a few weeks time. So money was tight. In the end, I realised it was just an expensive time of year and that by April we would be in a much better position. So, activities that had been planned for the first few months of the year were replaced with cheaper ones such as bowling and local theatre. The more expensive ones could wait till later in the year. The kids still had fun and are pleased that they still get to do the other things, so didn’t mind having to wait.

Having fun bowling!

Another area to look out for is where you are making mistakes. It is important to remember that making mistakes is good as it will often show us where we need to focus our attention or put in more practice. Everytime we make a mistake it teaches us something and we will be able to do better next time. Viewing mistakes as feedback or the start of something new is much healthier. Don’t let mistakes discourage you from your ‘can dos’.

Notice what drains your energy and what increases it

It is important to keep a track of this so that we can do less of what drains our energy and more of what increases it. I have started two lists which I have been adding to throughout the week and will continue to add to going forward. The lists should include things such as what you do, who you are with, what you wear, where you are, how you sit or stand, the noise around you, the smells, the sights etc.

Here are some examples from my lists:

Energy drains:

  • Raising voice at the children
  • Children not listening
  • Eating unhealthily
  • Neglecting self care
  • Gossips at work

Energy increasers:

  • Ticking off tasks on a checklist
  • Singing
  • Listening to music
  • Going to the theatre
  • Walking

Take lots of small steps

It is important to make small steps towards our goals everyday, no matter how small. As you make small steps you will find that the momentum carries you forward. With each step progress will be made and motivation will follow. It is important to remember that progress may be bumpy and there will be pitfalls along the way. We need to keep on pressing forward not giving up and learning from our mistakes as we go. Remember that people can stall because of the fear of success as well as the fear of failure.

Also, make time for regular check-ins where you can assess where you are at and what progress has been made. It is important to give yourself credit and rewards as you move along through this process. If we don’t do this, progress could be slower and time wasted as I found out earlier this week.

To step back, Ford recommends using the STOP tool:

Step back – put some distance between you and the momentum of your normal life.

Think – gather your thoughts.

Organise – make any course corrections.

Proceed – resume

This is a process I use often when I’m feeling overwhelmed or feel like I have too much to do. I recommend it to everyone as it really works.

Take daily action (thinking is not enough)

You may make some progress through thought alone but coupled with action progress will be much faster. Like Gretchen, Ford recommends using a daily checklist. I have set one up in my bullet journal which allows me to see what I’m keeping up with. Sometimes I can see that I’m not completely some tasks every single day, which is fine as long as it’s being done the majority of the time, I won’t get disheartened. If I find I am never completing a task, I just take it off the list as it is obviously not right for me at this time.

I will publish my week 7 progress on the 18th February.

Reflection and Looking Ahead – Week 5

To read the introduction to my Happiness Project, click here.

To read my week 4 progress, click here.

February – Energy

This week my month of self-reflection is drawing to a close and we will be looking ahead to February – the month of Energy. First of all I would like to take a look back at the last month and ask a few reflective questions.

What actions definitely boosted my happiness?

I loved having a one word theme for the year which will help me in my approach to everything I do in 2020. I chose Mindful as my word, and it has helped me slow down and take part in every resolution fully. I used an image of the word Mindful as my mobile phone screensaver to keep reminding me. I found that towards the end of the month that the screensaver wasn’t reminding me enough, so going forward I think I will change the image each month so that my eyes don’t get too used to seeing it and ignoring it.

I have also loved all the reading I have done. It was a slight adjustment this month to be reading more personal development books than fiction and I found that difficult at first, but the personal development books have been so helpful I felt it was worth it. Here is what I read this month:

Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying – Lee Child

I started reading the Jack Reacher books in November last year. This is the second in the series and I’m currently reading the third.

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey

This is the book with the full Myers Briggs test in. If you would like to read my post regarding this book, click here. I basically learnt to stop fighting my personality and to just Be Kristina.

Gravity by Tess Gerritsen

Gravity – Tess Gerritsen

This is the first Tess Gerritsen I have read and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown (audible)

The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

The first of two Brené books I have listened to this month, which you can read about in my post here. Another happiness booster this month was realising I had a whole bunch of personal development books in my Audible library that I had never got round to listening to. I chose to use my journey to and from work to listen to some of these.

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown (audible)

Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown

This was the second of my books by Brené and you can read about it in this post here.

Throughout the year I will also be reading Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. I will be working through the activities in the book and accompanying workbook. I will also be writing a commonplace book for each of these.

Some really helpful and enjoyable reading this month and 5/54 of my yearly target!

Another task that made me really happy this month was writing my 20 for 2020 list which you can read here. I thought it was going to be really hard, but once I started ideas came very naturally. So far, I have ticked off two of my list which was to take the children to a pantomime and to decorate the kids bedroom. So, I am really pleased with that! I have another lined up to complete in February. It makes me really happy to have things to look forward to. It also inspired me to make more spontaneous decisions about things to do. For example, today we went to see The Wizard of Oz at our local theatre which was really fun!

Interval time at the theatre!

It has also made me really happy to have started family meetings in our house. The idea being inspired by the 7 Habits books by Stephen Covey. It’s nice to involve the children in what we’re doing and let them have a say which I think is really important. We have also been enjoying having a weekly ‘games night’ and ‘movie night’ which has been a lovely bonding experience. We have also taken the time to have regular one to one bonding time with each of the children.

I have enjoyed the time that my daughter and I have spent journaling together. In January we have been working on The Big Life Journals New Year kit. We have actually got a little behind with it, so will be taking it forward to finish off in February.

What resolutions did I successfully keep this month?

I managed to keep all of my resolutions this month. Four of them were one off activities. However I will definitely be continuing with reading the personal development books which I will hopefully tailor to each months category where I can.

What didn’t work and what can you learn from that experience?

Originally, I had specific books that I intended to read but I figured that some of them would be better off being read in specific months which they alligned more closely too. Also, I discovered all the books in my audible library so it made sense to read some of those which fit the category. Also, it would save me money to start with what I already owned.

What did you learn about yourself this month?

I definitely learnt that I’m not happy if I’m not reading fiction. I will endeavour to read 2 – 3 fiction books a month. I have also learnt that I’m happier when I’m reading personal development books. I used to read a lot years ago but had got out of the habit, so I’m pleased to be doing that again. I also love that I can fit in an extra couple of books a month by using Audible on my route to and from work.

My Myers Briggs result was very helpful in making me realise that maybe the qualification I had chosen to study was probably not right for me. I have struggled to start and have started to look at other options for the future which would better suit my personality and character type.

I have also learnt not to take on too much at once and when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need to take a day out to pause and plan. When I’m overwhelmed, I tend to procrastinste more and end up spending way too much time on my phone scrolling through social media and looking up random stuff. I need to use my time wisely.

Throughout the month I have come up with 6 personal commandments. Most of which were taken from books I’ve read or have always been in my mind:

1. Where we stand depends on where we sit.

I got this one from Stephen Covey. It is a reminder for me that everyone sees things differently and has their own unique perceptions and ways of thinking. Our point of views aren’t always the right ones and there isn’t really any rights or wrongs as we all bring our own experience to everything. It helps me to listen to other people’s points of view and see things from another angle. Even if I don’t agree with it, I can accept that it is what someone else believes. After all if we all thought the same way, the world would be a very boring place.

2. Start first with Self.

This one was a combination of Stephen Covey snd Brené Brown. You can’t fill from an empty cup. Everyone should prioritise self-care without any feelings of guilt. I found this one difficult when I became a parent. There would be days when I was so busy that things like eating, showering or even peeing would go out the window! Sounds crazy to me now that we can get stressed out enough to forget those things, but it is easily done. Obviously, when we stop looking after ourselves, we start to feel worse and become unwell, making it completely impossible to take care of others.

3. No one can pursuade another to change.

Again, from Covey and Brown. I struggled with this a lot when I was younger. I thought I could change people to how I wanted them to be and I thought this would make me happier. Obviously, this never works out, you become more stressed and the other person becomes even unhappier. Again, this is a case of Start first with self. When you are not happy with something, change yourself and your reaction to it. You can not change other people.

4. Every passing second is a chance to turn it all around.

This is a quote that has always been in my head. I believe it was Penelope Cruz in the movie Vanilla Sky who said it. I remember watching it and having a bit of an ‘aha’ moment and thinking “oh my God! That is so true.” I had always been of the mindset that if you screw up, you should reset again on the following Monday, month, year etc. It had never once occured to me that I could give myself a break and start again right at that moment. I still struggle with this now, but I’ve found thst the format of the Happiness Project really helps in instilling it.

5. Love is a verb.

This is my favourite piece of wisdom from Stephen Covey and one that resonated with me deeply when I first read the book over 10 years ago. It reminds me that I shouldn’t just expect love to be there. ‘Love’ the feeling is the fruit of ‘love’ the verb. Many relationships stop working when complacency steps in. Many couples expect ‘love’ just to happen, but if we have stopped doing little acts of love then the feeling will slip away. Maintaining love is like maintaining a garden and it needs tending to each and every day to be at it’s best.

6. Be Kristina.

One of Gretchen’s which is really important. It’s important to be authentic to be truly happy. When we behave differently from who we are, we attract different kinds of people who will then believe we are something we are not. When we are authentically ourselves we will attract the right kinds of people in our lives who will accept us unconditionally for who we are. It is difficult though as it involves a huge amount of vulnerability on our part. I admit I struggle with this one, but by allowing myself to be Kristina over the last month I feel a stronger person for it.

So, overall I think I have had a very successful month and I am pleased with my progress.

Thinking ahead to February – Energy

I must admit I was nervous about this one as I just couldn’t think of anything to do! I already do a lot of walking as I do not drive. I already eat fairly healthily and I have good routines in place to ensure I sleep at least 7 hours a night. I found it difficult to think outside of these parameters.

Thoroughly recommend this book!

Initially I started googling ideas and came up with a few potentials, but I found these ideas were not too different from what I already do. I wanted something a bit different. Luckily, during my search, I came across the book High Energy Habits by Bill Ford. This book is based around everything but diet, exercise and sleep. This was what I had been looking for and I can’t recommend it enough. Ford has come up with an approach to having more energy and has put it in a systematic order (which for an ISTJ is the best thing ever!!).

I decided to pick a few resolutions, but to also work through the book a chapter a week. The book will obviously be something I’m working on throughout the next few months – not just in February.

Here is my list of February resolutions:

  • Read and work through one chapter of High Energy Habits a week. (I will outline the chapters in future blog posts.)
  • Make a high energy music playlist. (Pick one song a day and listen to it.)
  • Aim for 10,000 steps a day. (or 60,000 over the week as I know this will be a struggle some days.)
  • Tackle a nagging task. (This is health related and I have been putting it off for too long.)
  • Cut out unhealthy snacks.
  • Cut out alcohol in February.
  • Drink a minimum of 1,893ml of water a day.

To read my week 6 progress, click here.

Self Knowledge – Week 4

Braving the Wilderness

To read the introduction to my Happiness Project, click here.

To read my week 3 progress, click here.

First I’ll start with a summary of Brené Brown’s book and then I would like to tell you about our first ever family meeting. The meeting is part of work I am doing alongside reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.

This week I finished reading Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to stand alone.

As the title suggests, this book is all about the desire that we all feel to belong to something that is bigger than just ourselves. The main message of the book is really this:

True belonging is found within yourself – not in any other place. It’s exactly the things that you do to try and belong that will, in fact, keep you from finding true refuge.

The book opens with this quote from Maya Angelou:

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014

You are only free when you realise you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.

Maya Angelou

Ultimately, this book is all about encouraging you to be true to yourself and to speak up – and to allow others to do the same. Brené emphasizes there is a shared humanity and spirituality that brings us all together despite our differences, and offers us a pathway into how we can truly engage with each other from a place of trust.

Here are some of my main take-aways from the book that I thought were particularly helpful.

Brené makes a clear distinction between belonging and fitting in:

Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.

Brené Brown
Brené Brown

What she is saying here is that it is precisely the behaviour that we engage in to try to belong – fitting in – that takes us away from finding true belonging as we mould ourselves to be who we believe we need to be. Therefore hiding our true selves and essentially saying to ourselves: this part can be seen, but this part must be hidden from others. It is only when we come to accept all of who we are that we can find belonging.

In order for us to feel safe to do so, we must then work on a culture of trust.

Brené offers up the acronym BRAVING as a way of creating trust – both with ourselves and with others:

Boundaries: I maintain my own boundaries and I respect yours.

Reliability: I do what I say – always.

Accountability: I take responsibility for whatever I say and do.

Vault: I keep confidential with what you tell me.

Integrity: I stay true to myself and I choose courage over comfort.

Non-judgement: I don’t judge myself or others about asking for help.

Generosity: I am generous in my interpretations about your actions, intentions and words.

She continues to outline four ways that we can reclaim human connection and rekindle the spiritual connection that exists between us all. I’ve briefly highlighted some of the personal lessons I took from these.

People are hard to hate close up. move in.

  • Only base your judgements of people on your own experience.
  • Have the courage to be vulnerable and express your pain rather than lashing out.
  • Truly engage with others and listen to their perspective – especially when you’re in conflict with each other.

Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.

  • Don’t just say something when you don’t know. Have the courage to say “I don’t know”.
  • Stop thinking in “you’re either with me or against me” paradigms.
  • Be inclusive in your language.

Hold hands with strangers.

  • Show up for collective moments of joy and pain. Think concerts, think funerals, think World Cup games.

Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart

  • Hold strong to who you are, yet be open and vulnerable to others.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families



Stephen Covey compares families to the flight of an aeroplane saying that they are off track 90% of the time, but always get back on track if they have a shared sense of destination. He says that all families should have a “flight plan”. Covey says that the hope lies in the vision and the plan and having the courage to keep coming back to it time and time again.

Covey states that there are three purposes to his book:

Having a clear vision of your destination

This can be achieved by writing a family mission statement which every member of the family must work on.

A flight plan

The flight plan must encompass principles that govern human interaction and are absolutely essential for a quality family life. This would include things like trust, honesty, fairness and respect. These must become established patterns of thinking and doing things – like habits. Covey says true and lasting change occurs from the inside-out so, instead of trying to change a situation you’re not happy with, you must work on yourself.

Covey encourages everyone to set aside family time each week. This is a time for planning, communicating, teaching values, and having fun together. He also suggests that you have regular one to one bonding times with each member of your family – when the agenda is written by the other person. Covey guarantees that doing this will improve the quality of family life dramatically.

A compass

Covey’s third purpose is to help you to recognise and develop four unique gifts you have that will enable you to become an agent of change in your family. These gifts will become an inner compass to guide you.

Stephen Covey

Our family meeting

I will be working on the above three purposes throughout the year. My first step was to teach my family about what I had learnt so far. I did this by way of a family meeting.

Covey suggests playing a game with your children. Only my daughter wanted to do this, but my son watched and listened as we played. This was fine as Covey says that it is important not to force anyone to join in with the new things you are implementing and that they will bring themselves to the table in their own time.

The game involved blindfolding my daughter and leading her to a different place in the house where returning to the starting point would be a little difficult. I then spun her around a few times and explained to her that it was her job to return to the starting point. Once she started trying, I stopped her after a moment and asked if she’d like some help. She said “yes”. I gave her directions such as “go straight, turn right”. When she was safely back I asked her if it was hard to find the way when she couldn’t see and had no instructions. She replied that it was frightening and confusing.

I helped my children understand that we are all going through life together, but none of us could see the future. We often need instructions or assistance from a family member to get to our destination. We talked about how wonderful it is to have a family to rely on. I talked about our family “flight plan” and that having some help to become a strong and happy family is just as valuable as the help and assistance they received when playing the game.

My daughter got really quite emotional after this conversation as she really felt supported. She can often feel left out as her brother has autism and can take up a lot of our time.

The second part of our meeting was talking about our family flight plan. We talked about what we could do to help and support one another and have fun together.

This week we are going to see The Wizard of Oz at our local theartre as a family. We have also decided that Tuesday nights are going to be games night and Friday’s are movie night.

I also organised one to one time for each of them at the weekend. My daughter chose to do stone painting and my son would like to play board games. My children also organised time with each other to play Roblox together.

To read my January reflections and plans for February click here.

Self Knowledge – Week 3

The 16 personality types

To read the introduction to my Happiness Project click here.

To read my Week 2 progress click here.

This week the resolution that I have been working on was to take a reputable personality quiz.

Today, I am concentrating on The Myers Briggs personality test. I was familiar with this test and had come across it around 10 years ago when my employers sent a colleague and myself to the company ‘Top Talented’ event. At that time the test had me down as an ISTJ, which stands for Introverted, Sensory, Thinking, Judging. Or, if you prefer Jung’s words, Reserved, Observant, Tough-minded, Scheduling. ISTJ is also known as The Inspector.

I was interested to see if ten years on anything had changed. So, I set about re-taking the test. The test I used was from the book Please Understand Me II, which is slightly more comprehensive than the more basic test linked above.

As I had suspected, I was still an ISTJ. For me, it can mean the following things:

I do things right.

I’m never one to do a sloppy job and I take great pride in my work. My motto is, “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.” I spare no energy finishing each task with patience and accuracy.

I have a serious, no-nonsense air about me.

Others describe me as calm, stable, cautious and methodical. I rarely call attention to myself, instead preferring to work quietly in the background.

I’m allergic to incompetence.

I have little patience for incompetence or indecisiveness. I easily grasp the practical steps necessary to solve any given problem. I can’t stand when people waste time talking about impractical ideas that ignore key logistics.

I keep my word.

When I say I’m going to do something, I mean it. It’s not just talk to me – I’ll get it done, even if it comes at a personal cost. I’m baffled by people who make empty promises and have little follow-through. Being lazy and dishonest is the fastest way to get on my bad side.

As an introvert, I generally prefer to work alone.

I actually work in a team, so I prefer to have a clearly established role and lines of authority – so everyone knows who is responsible for what. My best team mates are the ones who are consistent and reliable.

I notice details.

Sometimes people describe introverts as “constantly daydreaming”, or “living inside their minds.” That’s not me. I am deeply in tune with my environment and there is little that escapes my eye. I find it frustrating when others don’t notice the same obvious things as I do.

I want something to do.

In social situations, you will find me doing something useful, like clearing the table or serving drinks as I feel more comfortable taking charge and getting something done, rather than chatting with strangers.

I’m not the touchy-feely type.

I’m not the ones my friends and loved ones tufn to for emotional support. I’d much rather give practical advice to resolve the underlying issue than offer sympathy.

You know what they say about assumption?

To me, it is foolish not to check your assumptions against the actual facts. I excel at managing my surroundings and arriving at a practical course of action.

I have a strong sense of integrity.

I’ve been known to follow established rules even if it comes at a cost to me. If I make a mistake, I’ll be honest and confess to it. To do anything less would be a stain on my reputation.

George Washington (ISTJ)

I’m direct, even blunt.

I believe that truth is the most important factor, so I rarely mince my words. Sometimes I come across as overly blunt. It’s not that I’m trying to hurt other people’s feelings. To me, to say one thing and mean another would be disingenuous.

I’m self-sufficient.

In my mind, too much dependence on others is a sign of weakness. I value autonomy and independence. I’d rather make my own way than rely on someone else – because I know I’ll get it done and I will get it done right.

I show love through help, not words.

Often, I struggle to express my feelings, especially when it comes to showing my affection to loved ones. Instead of flowery words and grand gestures, I show my love by working relentlessly to keep things running smoothly for those I care about. To say that I am emotionless is far from the truth – I just show it in a different way.

Sometimes, I come across as insensitive.

It’s not that I’m trying to hurt other people’s feelings, rather, purely emotional situations can be puzzling to me.

Sometimes, people can count on me too much.

Because I’m so reliable, I often find others shift their responsibilities on to me. They aren’t necessarily taking advantage of me, I’m just good at handling things. However, I’m only human, and too much responsibility will inevitably lead to burnout. Rather than letting resentment fester, I need to learn to take care of myself and say “no” sometimes.

My perfect career is…

Career wise – I am drawn to organisations that uphold rules, traditions and standards.

I definitely have a stubborn streak.

Once I believe I’ve found the correct way to do something, it can be difficult to convince me otherwise.

I wear sensible clothing.

Like most things in my life, my clothes are chosen for utility and not necessarily fashion. I have little patience for things that look good but serve no purpose. I will wear whatever’s best suited to the situation at hand.

Unexpected changes bother me.

I like things to be ” by the book” and “the way they’ve always been”. Sometimes I’m resistant to new ideas.

I keep both feet on the ground.

I have little interest in discussing theoretical concepts and abstract ideas, nor do I care for imaginative flights of fancy. I’d rather talk about more practical matters, and I especially love explaining how to do something or sharing my “store” of fact-based knowledge. I also enjoy when my conversation partner can teach me something handy.

Rules matter.

Rules get a lot of flack these days and I understand they need to change sometimes. But I also know that rules and structure lead to productivity and consistency – which ultimately makes life better for everyone. Chaos, on the other hand, means missed deadlines and unforseen obstacles.

Queen Elizabeth II (ISTJ)

However I apply myself, I believe in creating and enforcing order. This makes my life a more orderly, organised and effective place.

Relationships

My partner is also an ISTJ, so on the positive side:

  • Being like “two peas in a pod” is rather comfortable in our relationship.
  • We both share interest in domestic stability including a devotion to home and family.
  • We both have an industrious work ethic.
  • We both have a conservative attitude towards parenting, recreation, spending and saving.
  • We both appreciate each others carefulness and willingness to do thankless jobs.

On the negative side;

  • We step all over each other trying to run the house, each insisting that our routine is the right one.
  • The critical attitude of myself is met with the same critical attitude in him.

SJ’s are also known as Guardians, SP’s as Artisans, NF’s as Idealists and NT’s as Rationals.

My eldest daughter Isabella is an Idealist child and I am a Guardian parent. In terms of our relationship this means:

  • We have few apparent problems.
  • She is naturally moral and very cooperative.
  • She cares about right and wrong.
  • She likes to serve the needs of others.
  • Unnecessary reprimands will hurt her feelings deeply.
  • She is good at home, school and in the community.
  • She needs to be seen as authentic, benevolent and empathic.
  • She’s reliable and does good deeds.
  • She can feel dominated and manipulated easily.

My son is a Rational child. In terms of our relationship this means:

  • He is serious and has a will-to-achieve.
  • He has a fierce sense of autonomy.
  • When punished he can feel personally violated and will respond with growing contempt.
  • He needs to feel free to choose.
  • He needs a good reason in order to carry out tasks.

So obviously, In all areas there is a lot to work on in terms of resolutions, so this week has given me plenty to think about moving forward.

To read my week 4 progress, click here.

Self Knowledge – Week 2

To read the introductory post to my Happiness project click here.

To read Self Reflection – Week 1 click here.

This week I wanted to summarise what I have been learning from a couple of the personal development books I have been reading.

I will start with Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. This was the book which was inspired by Brené’s famous TED Talk which you can watch here.

Consequently, TED has some great self knowledge / personal develolment talks for those of you looking for inspiration and maybe can’t dedicate the time to reading a whole book.

Brené Brown

5 Things I’ve Learnt From Reading The Power of Vulnerability.

1. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Become self-aware.

Most of us were taught to hide our emotions or run away from them. However, this causes nothing but continuous pain and stress. The consequences are far-reaching and the longer we keep these emotions bottled up, the worse the situation gets.

Instead, Brown says we need to become more self-aware and explore our emotions, asking questions to get in touch with how we’re feeling and thinking in a given moment.

So I started to think about a method for coaxing these feelings out. For me, that was writing and that’s why I started a daily journalling practice and this blog. It’s important to do what works for you. Other ideas may include meditation or talking to a friend.

2. Vulnerability Takes Courage.

Most modern cultures err on the side of suppressed feelings in an effort to display strength. However, as Brown demonstrates in her pivotal research, vulnerability is anything but weakness. In fact, it takes true strength and courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

The cool part about it, though, is the gifts we unlock by being willing to be vulnerable far outweigh the difficulty in doing so. By having the courage to be vulnerable and open up to ourselves and the world around us we come directly in touch with our most authentic self. And, in doing so, can live a much more fulfilling and happier life.

3. Show Up, Face Fear and Move Forward.

In everything that we do, fear and criticism will always be there to greet us. Fear is the great restrictive force, as it stops most people from ever stepping more than one foot outside their comfort zone towards realising their true desires.

Because fear and criticism will always be there in some form, the best course of action is always to show up anyway and move forward. No matter what you’re doing, show up every day to do what you were meant to do and don’t let these hindrances stop you.

The more you stand up to these negative forces, the more you’ll flex your courage and resilience and come out stronger for it.

4. Seek Excellence Not Perfection.

Brown says perfectionism is, “the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame.”

Perfectionism isn’t about growth, improvement, or personal achievement, it’s about fear and avoidance. Therefore, what you should really be focused on is realizing excellence, the best version of yourself despite your flaws. This perspective is healthy and inclusive and leads to real personal growth as opposed to a flawed perfectionism.

5. Dare to be Yourself.

The final and perhaps most important lesson of all is that you must dare to be yourself – at whatever the cost.

The forces of fear, insecurity, and doubt will never go away no matter how hard you try to avoid, hide from, or attempt to bury them. Instead, face them with courage and confidence in your authentic self and know that you’ve been given the gifts necessary to overcome whatever is in front of you.

Dare to be yourself in all your glory – your strengths, skills, and beauty as well as your flaws and insecurities. In doing so, you can realise true strength of spirit.

My second book to share with you is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This is my favourite personal development book and I try to read it every couple of years. This time, however, I have bought the workbook which goes with the book. I plan to read this book in stages throughout the year as it would be a lot to fit into one month! This month I am concentrating on the introduction. It doesn’t sound like much but there is a lot to learn.

The book opens with an explanation of how many individuals who have achieved a high degree of outward success still find themselves struggling with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness and growing healthy relationships with other people.

Covey believes that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.

In studying over 200 years of literature on the concept of “success”, Covey identified a very important change in the way that humans have defined success over time.

In earlier times, the foundation of success rested on character ethic (things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule). But starting around the 1920’s, the way people viewed success shifted to what Covey calls “personality ethic” (where success is a function of personality, public image, attitudes, and behaviours).

These days people look for quick fixes. They see a successful person, team, or organisation and ask, “How do you do it? Teach me your techniques!” But these “shortcuts” that we look for, hoping to save time and effort and still achieve the desired result, are simply band-aids that will yield short-term solutions. They don’t address the underlying condition.

“The way we see the problem is the problem,” Covey writes. We must allow ourselves to undergo paradigm shifts – to change ourselves fundamentally and not just alter our attitudes and behaviours on the surface level – in order to achieve real change.

Stephen Covey

That’s where the seven habits of highly effective people come in:

Habits 1, 2 and 3 are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependance to independance.

Habits 4, 5 and 6 are focused on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, and moving from independance to interdependence.

Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement and embodies all the other habits.

To read my week 3 progress click here.

Self Knowledge – Week 1

To read my introductory post. Click the link.

https://lovemyhappinessproject.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/introduction-the-happiness-project/

The theme for January’s Happiness Project is Self Knowledge. This month will be a little different from the others as it is about preparation. By gaining more knowledge of myself I will be better prepared to choose resolutions going forward.

New Starts!

The resolutions this month will be all about getting to know myself better. I have chosen:

Choose a one-word theme for the year.

Make a 20 for 2020 list.

Take a reputable personality quiz.

Read some personal development books.

Develop a system of accountability

I love the idea of a one-word theme for the year and had never thought of having one before. I wanted to chose something that would match up with all the resolutions I will be making throughout the year. So, I thought about what I needed to be, in order to carry them out.

I knew from previous years of making New Year’s resolutions that I wasn’t particularly good at keeing them for more than a few weeks and this was because they would slip my mind or I would become bogged down with doing too many, or being busy with other things. So, the word I chose was Mindful. I felt that this word would slow me down in all interactions so that I could really focus on what I had chosen to do.

Screensaver!

Then I thought about how I was going to remind myself to be mindful! I figured that I looked at my phone quite a lot during the day so I changed my wallpaper and screensaver to an image of the word Mindful. Which in turn would remind me to put my phone back down again (killing two birds with one stone!).

My next task was to work on a 20 for 2020 list. This is a separate list of things you would like to do throughout the year. They can be related to your resolutions or completely different. Some people find it hard to think of 20 things but you can always add to it throughout the year. Other people think of many more which is also fine as the aim is to complete 20 of them by the end of the year. You could always carry them over to the following year if you have extra.

I really loved this activity. Again, never having thought to do this before I can see how it would give you some focus and something to aim for. Also, it’s just fun to have things to look forward to! My list didn’t take too long as I found that I had some pretty good ideas in my head already. Here is what I came up with:

1. Make a handmaid gift for a friend.

A friend of mine has just had her first baby and I plan to make her the cross stitch shown below (which I made for my daughter). This will be the first cross stitch I have made for a friend as I have only made them for my children and myself so far. I plan to finish this goal by the end of January!

Made for my daughter!

2. Take my daughter to Harry Potter World for her birthday treat.

My daughter is a huge Harry Potter fan and has read all the books (including the cursed child) and watched all the movies. This will be the ideal birthday treat for her! Luckily HP World is only a half hour drive from us so it shouldn’t be difficult at all to accomplish. We will be going in February half-term which is shortly after her birthday.

3. Take my son on the London Eye for his birthday treat.

London cross stitch for Tommy!

My son Tommy has autism and he has an obsession with dinosaurs, sea creatures and London. London is only 40 minutes away from us on the tube so he has been quite a few times to various places. However, we have not yet been on the London Eye and I know that he would really love to do so. So this will be his birthday treat in the Easter holidays in March.

4. Take the kids to see a London theartre show.

I absolutely love the theatre but have not been for so long. My kids have never been but loved watching “cats” and “Joseph” on DVD. They also really enjoy musical films such as “Annie”, “The Greatest Showman” and “Mary Poppins”. I really think they would love to see a West End show. I’m thinking that we may go and see “Wicked” later in the year.

5. Reach and maintain my target weight.

I’m not in any way overweight but always pile on a few pounds over the Autumn and Winter (what can I say, I like pie!). I would say I have 7kg to lose which is not too much. It’s just maintaining it when I get there!

6. Read 54 books.

I’m an avid reader so this will be a complete joy to do! Last year I read 53 books so I’ve added one extra this year. I currently have 3 books on the go – 1 fiction and 2 personal development (as part of my Jan resolutions).

7. Make 3 new friends.

As easy as this may sound, it is a very tough one for me. I have social anxiety and really don’t cope that well in social situations. I rarely go out, except to work or on a family outing. I do all my shopping etc online! Most of my good friends all have moved away or are my current work colleagues. I have one very good friend at work but we still only see each other at work (or the annual Christmas party!). So, I’m already really anxious about this one but I’m determined to give it a go!

8. Visit an old friend and her family.

This is an old work bestie who moved away and the friend who I will be making the new baby cross stitch for. I managed to make it to her wedding in 2018 (anxiety inducing!). I’m really pleased that I did as she is someone I really wish to keep in contact with. I would really love to visit her this year and meet her new baby!

9. Complete NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I am super exited about this one. I’m not sure I can do it, but I will certainly give it a good go! I’m really into Horror novels so would love to have a go at writing one. I’m not the best writer in the world but if I can complete the month I figured I can spend the next ten years editing it! If you would like to know more about NaNoWriMo you can use the link below.

https://www.nanowrimo.org/

10. Have a new kitchen fitted.

11. Decorate the children’s bedroom.

So far this year we have done well in getting our flat up to a good standard. Earlier in the year we had a new bathroom fitted and later in the year we had the living area, hallway and main bedroom refitted and decorated. This year the plan is for a new kitchen and to get the children’s bedroom sorted. We are planning to sell in a couple of years time and are getting ready for that.

12. Teach Tommy to play the recorder.

My son has expressed an interest in playing the recorder. School or formal lessons would be a bit much for him as he has autism and some sensory processing issues so I’ve decided to teach him myself. Luckily, Father Christmas brought him a recorder in his stocking!

13. Journal with Bella.

This year we are re-introducing journalling to my daughter. We did this in 2019 and it started off well but fizzled out about half way through the year. We use products from Big Life Journal who specialise in teaching growth mindset. This year I have bought my daughter the journal which she can work through as she pleases (there are accompanying podcasts to go with it). Each month we will buy a challenge kit. January’s challenge is New Year’s related. You can find out more information at the link below. I thoroughly recommend them.

https://biglifejournal-uk.co.uk/

This is the UK site but there is an American one too.

14. Finish my teaching assistant qualification.

I started this course in 2019 but I have yet to get past the first module. I decided to do the course as this kind of job would resolve my childcare issues – particulary as we will be moving away from close-by family in the next few years. I think what was keeping me from the course was that I am actually already a qualified level 3 nursery nurse but I haven’t worked in the field for almost 20 years so my qualification is a little out of date! Also, in the UK you don’t actually need a qualification to work as a teaching assustant, it’s just a nicety. So, I’m just being a little lazy to be honest. I need to get on with it as obviously it would improve my chances of finding a job in that field.

15. Finish crocheting the blanket I started in 2016!

This is as far as I’ve got!

Stop, start, stop, start…. yeah, I just need to get on with it now, don’t I?

16. Long hand journal daily in BuJo (bullet journal).

I absolutely love my BuJo. Since starting it I have been far more organised and get far more done. However, I have never tried using it as a diary as well before. So far, it’s going well.

17. A weekly blog post on The Happinest Project.

And so it begins…

18. Read a chapter of a book to my son daily.

I love reading to the kids. My daughter is a prolific reader so I actually haven’t managed to pin her down to read to her yet this year. She is too busy with the several books she has on the go. That’s why I’m focusing this one on my son as my daughter already reads so much! My son struggled with learning to read so he doesn’t enjoy reading as much as my daughter (he will do his school reading and that’s it!). However, he does love me to read to him. I have found it has helped his vocabulary, spelling and writing immensely, so I’m determined to keep it up! We are currently reading The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo.

19. Take the kids to watch a panto.

I thought this one woukd have to wait till December but I was wrong! We were planning to go and see Cats at the cinema on Sunday but the showing times didn’t match with our day so I decided on the off chance to see if there were any tickets left for the last showing of our local theatre’s panto. Luckily there was so we went! I was seriously impressed. It was excellent and I haven’t laughed so much in a long time! I’m really chuffed that I managed to complete one of my 20, 5 days in to the year!

It’s panto time!

20. Marie Kondo the house.

Have started this before and never completed. So I’m going to give it another go! The house having been decorated is a nice incentive to get rid of some clutter.

To read my week 2 progress click here.

Good luck with your resolutions and I hope I’ve inspired you to come up with a word of the year or a 20 for 2020 list!