happiness project: january

Right before the New Year, a friend posted on Facebook that she was looking to follow the Happiness Project month-by-month in 2014, and was looking for friends to do it with so that she could have a group with accountability and support. Both accountability & support probably would have gotten me to follow through with the Happiness Project in 2013, so I am really glad that it’s here in 2014!

I am looking forward to this fresh start. I’ve been feeling a bit down and unproductive, especially with teaching & school leadership. I read a lot of teacher blogs to learn new lesson ideas and improve my own teaching, and I often wonder how they manage to maintain healthy lives while kicking butt at teaching.

Here’s my plan for the month.

January’s Happiness Project:
Go to sleep earlier.
Exercise better.
Toss, restore, organize.
Tackle a nagging task.
Act more energetic.

Go to sleep earlier
– I bought this alarm clock to supplement my cell phone alarm. After years of relying on a phone alarm, I’m now nervous about going back to a clock, but I know I have to get the phone away from myself before bedtime. I’m going to charge my cell phone in the kitchen instead of my on my nightstand so that I don’t fall into my old habits of playing games (RIP Words with Friends, Scramble with Friends, and Candy Crush), reading emails, or reading Scandal recaps.
– I also bought this sleep mask. My old bedroom in my parents’ house has only one window covered by a very opaque shade (as compared to my current bedroom with many windows and blinds that don’t block out the lights from the bank next door), and I noticed a big difference when sleeping with much less light.


Exercise better
– My exercise habits are reasonably good–I usually exercise 3-4 times a week with a variety of things: barre, yoga, running, Pilates, and zumba. My goal with this is to refine so I’m more effective.
– After seeing my brother and his wife with their new Fitbits, I bought a new cap for my Jawbone Up. I’d stopped using it because the cap fell off. I look forward to its reminders to keep active (it buzzes after 30 minutes of inactivity), sleep tracking, and step tracking (goal is to get to 10,000 steps per day). It also offers the option to track your food and drink by taking pictures of it.

Jawbone-Up-750x421 Photo Credit: BrooklynBerryDesigns

– I’m also going to record more data via MyFitnessPal and Withings to look at trends and make changes in my food and exercise choices. As a first-year teacher, I was stick-thin partly because I was training for a fall marathon and because I was so miserable from stress. I used to think I could eat whatever I wanted because I’d just run a ton of miles, but those eating habits (e.g., constantly drinking venti soy lattes, eating lunchables from the Tedeschi’s because I couldn’t make time to pack lunch, and inhaling pasta like it was air) don’t work for me now! The food logging will be to find patterns (e.g., not eating enough protein or vegetables) and to be more mindful about mindless snacking (e.g., eating gummi bears while grading even if I’m not hungry). The Withings weighing will also be to look for trends–*not* to fixate on whether I’ve gained a pound or two in a given day (weight can fluctuate by a lot).


Toss, restore, organize
– When I started brainstorming ideas for this section, they started spiraling out of control because there is so much I want to do around the house: organize our second bedroom/office, put an Elfa organizing system in my closet, organize the storage unit, etc. However, I should start with a small section so that I can scaffold up to these bigger projects.
– Task 1: Scan files to Evernote and shred them.
– Task 2: Rip DVDs to our kitchen computer and donate them.
– All other progress will be a bonus!

Tackle a nagging task
– Similar to the “toss, restore, organize” section, there are so many nagging tasks that I want to tackle! I have a huge collection of task lists in my Evernote, unrecorded in my email, and in my Bullet Journal. I’m going to consolidate and prioritize the tasks and focus on them single-taskedly (i.e., no trying to email, read Facebook, or gchat at the same time).

bullet journal

Act more energetic
– My dad and I took a walk on Christmas Day, and he asked me what my resolutions were for 2014. I didn’t have a good idea of them yet, and he asked if he could suggest one, which was something like “be more positive. say hi to people and brighten their day.” Hearing this made me check myself–was I sounding so grumpy about work and life that I had turned into a Negative Nancy?
– I always notice and appreciate positive personalities and demeanors among my colleagues, so I’m going to channel these qualities when I head back to the classroom.


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