For a while I've wanted to do something about kicking my bad habits and replacing them with better ones. I have tried a few times, mostly unsuccessfully. I think one of my problems is that I am too impatient - and I want to change everything at the same time. But habits are habits for a reason, and usually they are not easily changed.
Many people argue that the best strategy is to tackle one habit at a time and really focus on it. But I find that difficult as well. I become stressed, restless and overwhelmed thinking about all those other issues that I want to address.
Inspired by the theme months in my son's daycare; each month has a theme such as farm, forest, fairy tales where the kids have songs and activities for the whole month connected to that particular theme; I thought I could apply it to my self-improvement challenge. The themes could be something like health, food, work, family...and I would find a few habits and tasks related to that theme to work on for the month.
As I thought about why I hadn't been so successful in the past, I realized that negative self talk and lack of energy and enthusiasm probably played a big part in my failures. So I decided that the first month should be a Happiness and Positivity Month as hopefully it would help to build some habits that helped with my other "topics". I downloaded Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project"on my Kindle, finished reading it within a couple of days, and realized that this was how I should do it.
Gretchen spends a year on her happiness project, each month tackling different aspect of her happiness. Although I had thought that dealing with happiness would be a separate topic from the others, I realized as I read that happiness is both means to an end and an end in and of itself. I.e. I need to be happier and more positive to be successful, but of course the ultimate target is to become happier, and more at peace, and the purpose of all of my other goals is to have more fun and fulfillment in my life.
I like that she sets her project in the time frame of 1 year. I know myself well enough to realize that after the initial excitement of the project wears of, I will most likely hit a point where it seems that the project is more work than reward. But it is easier to keep going if I have made a resolution to stick with it for one year! "I am not going to quit now, I can quit after I am done with these 12 months".
What Gretchen emphasizes, and what I believe makes all the difference are her resolution charts (pdf).
I have used her toolbox to make one for myself. As I will be traveling a lot in the next 2 weeks, I decided to formally start my project 1st of June, with "The Month of an Impeccable Mind", in which I will focus on positivity and happiness in general. And although I haven't formally started my Happiness Year, I've started keeping a gratitude journal, plus I've gone out for short runs a few times, and I already find that my spirits have lifted a bit. Can't wait for June to come:)