The Happiness Project Experience - February
While I had a ton of fun during January, the month of self-discovery and exploration, I was a bit more hesitant about February and its theme, energy. I didn’t think too much about this month initially, and as it drew closer, I realized why - energy is a really complex and complicated topic!
Beyond that, it was really hard to come up with resolutions and goals for this month! I already do many of the “normal” things that boost energy, like getting to bed on time and working out, so I had to think a bit more outside of the box. I ended up deciding on the following goals for my month of energy:
No heat styling tools on my hair
Fast food only once a week
Monitor my sleep length and give myself grace
Get new headshots for my business
With the first resolution, I decided to try and restore some energy to my hair, rather than allowing it to grow even drier and damaged (kind of a stretch, but bear with me). This goal was an extension of the journey I started in January, to embrace my curly hair.
Ever since I began, I have kept my curlers and straighteners in their drawer, untouched. I haven’t been tempted to use them. I know that even one day of straightening or curling would only set me back, so I’ve actually managed to go over 6 weeks without using them. That may not sound like much, but as someone who used to straighten their hair every single day (unless I curled it), it is serious progress. Plus, I’m beginning to realize that my natural hair looks a lot like it did when I would curl it (maybe not day one curls, but day two and three!), with a lot less work.
I have even revolutionized by hairdryer habits, I only use it with the diffuser and only on a low/medium heat setting. I would never be able to embrace my curly hair without my hairdryer because I absolutely despise having wet hair, so I let this be a planned and acceptable exception. While I know that the curly journey ahead is going to be long, avoiding heat styling tools this month definitely helped boost the moisture and happiness of my hair as well as my personal commitment to stick to my curls for the long haul.
My second goal was pretty easy to measure and gauge. Since fast food can be so disastrous to our health, I decided to do my body a favor and avoid it. Plus, I could see how reducing my fast food intake might help improve my energy. I managed to meet the goal, only getting fast food once a week. There were even a couple of extra times when I went to get food for friends or siblings but managed to avoid getting something for myself!
This goal was both harder and easier than I expected. It was easy in practice to not stop for fast food, I would either continue on to eat at home or call up a friend and visit over a meal at an actual restaurant.
On the flip side, it was a pain to be constantly thinking and reminding myself that I could only get fast food once a week. I had to keep track of whether I already had eaten out on a given week, if I hadn’t, decide whether or not I wanted this to be my one time for the week. Beyond that, I don’t think I felt a significant energy boost this month that I can attribute to this resolution.
Gretchen recommended that everyone participating in the Happiness Project Experience have a sleep-related resolution for February, so I followed her lead. On the whole, I get a good amount of sleep, tend to have a reasonable bedtime, and don’t have to get up extremely early in the morning. However, when I read both I Know How She Does It and Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam, I was fascinated by the idea of everyone having an internal sleep monitor. If they don’t get enough sleep one night, they will compensate for it the next night, or the night after that, with their sleep averaging out to be what they need. I decided to monitor my sleep to see if I could determine what my set “sleep number” was. Using my Apple watch to track my sleep, I have a complete picture of almost every night in February.
On the upside, I think I now have a pretty good idea of how much sleep I require to function. On the downside, it is a much higher number than I would like it to be. It isn’t 10 or 12 hours or anything, but it is still higher than I would like. That is why I am thankful for the second half of the resolution that I set: to give myself grace for all things related to sleep.
I have found that I am more likely to achieve my goals when I give myself grace in whatever area is requiring so much effort and focus. This grace helped me to read several nights this month before bed, instead of just scrolling on my phone. It helped me to be more conscientious of my bedtime and leave events or situations earlier than I might have otherwise to get to bed at a reasonable hour. But it also allowed me to let myself stay up and enjoy my friends on other nights or scroll myself into the void.
However, I’m still working on extending that grace to being okay with the amount of sleep I need and to allowing myself to get it, but I am getting there. I do know though, that the nights when I get the sleep that my body needs, I have even more energy and happiness for the day ahead - exactly what this month was meant to help me recognize and achieve.
Finally, getting headshots may not seem like something that would clearly fit into the month of energy, but it does - seriously!
I have needed new headshots for a really long time. The pictures I have been using were three years old and while I really love them, they don’t adequately represent the person that I am now.
For months, I had berated myself, knowing I needed to get it done, but I still hadn't - partly because of scheduling, and partly because I really hate myself in pictures (I know, I know, something else I’m working on).
Having this hanging over my head was a serious drain on my energy and my business. I had a whole list of things that I said I couldn’t get done until I got new headshots, such as launch my business Instagram or start my LinkedIn profile. While, as excuses go, these were decent, I was letting this hold me back.
So, in February, I am happy to say that I checked this off the list! I got it done and had an immediate boost in energy and productivity! I posted them everywhere, updated my website, launched my Instagram, and checked all photo-related tasks off my to-do list. You can even see some of the great photos from the shoot on this website too!
So, all in all, I met all of my resolutions and I know that three of the four definitely boosted my energy and happiness. Plus, (maybe) thanks to the energy these resolutions gave me, I was able to get a head start on preparing my March goals. I can’t wait to see what that month has in store and conquer it with my newly increased energy!
Until next time,