A few weeks ago I reached a very personal milestone – I completed my 52 week happiness planner!
I bought this glorified journal at a time when I was starting a new chapter in life and feeling very overwhelmed about it (read about it here). When I came across the Happiness Planner website I instantly fell in love with how pretty and stylish the products were, little did I know that it would become much more than just another pretty notebook. In fact, it was so much more that even me – queen of saying she will be more organised and happier but NEVER managing to do it consistently– managed to revisit this journal once a week for a whole year and use it to help me become a happier person than I was when I started it! Am I a teeny bit proud of myself? – Hell frickin’ YES!
So, what is a happiness planner I hear you ask? Well, the smart minds over at THP have a load of different planner products for all your badass goal setting needs, all aimed at helping you nurture your happiness through positive thinking, self-development, reflection and gratitude. The planner that I bought is a 52 week undated (so you can start it in June if you’re a crazy kid like me) weekly planner (because ain’t nobody got time for it daily!)
Before you dive right in to the weekly organisation, the happiness planner gives you a number of exercises (14 to be precise) about where your life is now, where you want to be, how you can get there and ultimately, what will make you truly happy. For instance, it asks you what makes you happy/unhappy, what you have achieved so far, what is holding you back, and what you are grateful for as well as some goal setting. Next to all these tasks (and for each week in the planner) there are different inspirational quotes which adds to the pinterest factor of the planner and keeps you feeling motivated.
So, a quick overview of the weekly stuff – the planner encourages you to think of happy things you plan on doing in the coming week and goals you want to achieve, as well as giving you a week to a view diary to get your life in order. Now for the great part, and the first thing I’ve learned about being happy:
Reflection is Vital
Unlike your typical diary or planner where you just write down your plans and that’s it, the happiness planner gives you the opportunity to reflect on the week just passed – how was it? What were the good parts? What were the bad parts? What did you learn? Who are you grateful for? What are you going to do to move forward and improve? I think in this day and age where we are blessed with having so much at the touch of a button, we often miss the value in stopping for a second, looking back at what we’ve achieved, what we could maybe learn and put pen to paper. At the end of some weeks I would be feeling down about my productivity, current life status and just everything really, I would be dreading the part where I have to sit down and write about how shit the week has been and look at all the goals I haven’t met and see how unhappy I was on paper. However, I very quickly learned that no matter how rubbish the week had been, there would always be something good that had happened, people who had kept me going and something I had learned about the week’s shortcomings. This was a great exercise to do at the end of each week because it taught me that there is always something to be happy about even if life isn’t going your way. The same can be said for the exercises at the start and the end of the planner, where you write everything you have achieved before the 52 weeks and after – you don’t actually realize how good you’ve got it or how far you’ve come until you actually think about it, write it down and see this big list staring back at you. The Happiness Planner has helped me realize that if you don’t reflect on a regular basis, you can quite easily disregard some wonderful things that you’ve done and fail to learn from any weaknesses either within yourself or just whatever life throws at you. Happiness isn’t about having a great life all the time, it’s more about seeing great things when life isn’t going your way.
Happiness can’t always be objectified
In the reflection part at the end of each week, there are numerical scales which allow you to put various “happiness factors” for the overall week into numbers, which you total up to give an overall score of how happy you have been in the last week. For example, there’s a scale that ranges from tired to energised in the numbers 1-5. Now, I don’t think I would go as far as to say that this is a bad thing about the happiness planner, but I think it is an important aspect to be mindful of in terms of how accurate it is (here comes the social science degree, buckle up). Throughout the past year I had some weeks where I was as happy as a pig in poo, but because I was so tired from all the fun I was having and eating really unhealthily (because pizza makes me happy), my happiness score would be lower, than how happy I actually think I felt. Another lil problem is how harsh a marker you are: On the weeks where good things had happened and my productivity had been not too bad, but on the inside I felt like the world was against me and my life was a shambles, I would be so unforgiving on how good the week had actually been and end up calculating a lower happiness score than I really should have given myself credit for. It was a tricky one for me to navigate, and I was always thinking “I’m giving myself a 3 for how happy I was this week but I think if someone else had the same week, they would give it a 4 or 5”. Us humans can be guilty of focusing too much on the negative stuff; If you’ve had 3 days in the week when you’ve felt great, 3 days that have been fine, and on Sunday when you’re filling in your happiness planner you’re feeling absolutely shit about life, it can be hard to remove yourself from that and look at the rest of the week with a clear head. So, can you really remove all your feelings, stand back and objectively look at your happiness, putting it into numbers to give an accurate representation of how happy you have been? Maybe not? Nevertheless, this was still a really good reflective exercise to get me thinking about how happy I had been each week and why I would be giving myself each score on the scales. It taught me that sometimes the numbers don’t add up to what I consider a true representation of my feelings, and that maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on myself and how much I actually achieve in a week. So, I’m now making more of a conscious effort to slow down and appreciate the little things in life that make me happy, be mindful of it and focus on the good things rather than dwelling on the things that have made me unhappy.
Not achieving goals doesn’t mean failure
I’m gonna let you in on a not-so-secret secret here: I have always been a reasonably organized and ambitious person, but I am so terrified of setting goals. In my mind, once I set a clear and measurable goal, I have something that I could fail at, something that people will judge me for, and something that will determine how (un)successful I am. So in the initial exercises of the happiness planner where I had to write down a lot of goals, I had the fear. I thought to myself “If I look back a year from now and haven’t met these goals then I have failed.” Because of this fear, I end up selling myself short. Very short. To prove my point, in the exercise of “where you see yourself in 5 years’ time”, two of the things I wrote was “be working in a big company” and “have responsibilities”. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ABOUT?! What a ridiculous thing to even write down! I know that I’m better than that and that I want more than that, but I’m just so afraid to fail. I try to protect myself by saying that if I don’t get too specific with my goals then it makes it impossible to fail, but in reality you will be selling yourself short and never get to where you want to be, therefore, you will fail anyway.
So I thought it was time to be a big girl and really set some goals for the next year, but guess what, I didn’t achieve some of them – and yet I’m still a happier person! In fact, I’m almost glad that they didn’t come true!
In the exercise that asked me what I wanted to make more time for in the next year, one of the things that I wrote down was to use my creativity by scrapbooking. This is something I had enjoyed doing but didn’t make a lot of time for over the past few years, so I set myself the goal of getting my craft on once a week. But throughout the year, on the very rare occasion that I would delve into my craft box for a scrapbooking session, I just really couldn’t be bothered and didn’t really do anything. So I just didn’t do it. I didn’t reach that goal. Am I unhappy? Is my life not where I want it to be because I didn’t force myself to do this hobby which I thought would make me happy? No ma’am! I got new hobbies, I reached better goals and I got so much more enjoyment out of them than I would have if I forced myself to make scrapbooks when I didn’t want to. So maybe scrapbooking isn’t something that really makes me happy, so it’s a good thing that I didn’t force myself to do it for the sake of “not failing”, because by “failing” I have succeeded – I’m a happier person now (Yaaay!). So I’ve learned to stop being afraid of setting goals for the fear of not reaching them, sometimes it’s better that way. Now I’m ready to set some bigger and more badass goals for the next year without the fear of failing them! (or maybe just less fear?)
If you’re still reading thank you, you babe! I’ve rambled on quite a lot about this super duper planner but this is something I feel really passionate about. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished with my Happiness Planner and it’s been a huge learning curve for me, so I thought I would share the positive vibes with you and encourage you to take control over your happiness too – it’s so worth it, trust me!
Now for the “exciting announcement” – In the next coming weeks I will not only be part of the blog community but I will also be joining the vlog community as well! That’s right, your girl here will be launching her Youtube channel (aaaaarrrrggghh)!!! Keep your eyes on my social media for more updates on that, I am planning on making a vlog about what I haven’t mentioned about the Happiness Planner (because I love it so damn much!!) and my journey with it in this post, so if you have any questions or just anything you would like to say please let me know on my social media or in the comments below. I would really love to know what your thoughts are on this post and on what you think about “being happy” in general.
Spreading love and happiness to you all! Enjoy the rest of the week!