2017 Happiness Project: January Strength Month
So, I survived my first trimester teaching English in Spain! This experience has already challenged me in more ways than I could have imagined, including testing my time management skills, challenging the goals I set for myself before beginning this experience, and most recently in spending my first Christmas away from family. Being away from home for the holidays was extremely hard, but it allowed me time to reflect on the past trimester, what I want out of this experience and how I can live more fully and presently in the time I have left in beautiful Sevilla. My holiday break was made complete by visiting Barcelona for the first time since I studied abroad there in 2012, giving me a full-circle feeling and allowing me to come back to Sevilla feeling all the old reasons why I originally fell in love with this country fresh in my mind and heart.
So, using my vacation time to reflect made me want to focus harder on my goals in 2017. I took some time to write my goals and then organize them in a way that was less overwhelming than just having them in a never-ending note on my phone. I used a blog post that was recommended to me by my good friend Chelsea (shameless plug/ side note, her site is awesome check it out!) to create a structure for my goals. I also used the "SMART goals" framework which was recommended to me by my trainer, Shamir. I came up with 4 categories: Physical, Personal, Spiritual, and Career/ Future Growth, and decided on the 3 most important goals for each category. These goals are definitely ambitious, but still realistic, so they have already helped motivate me to put action behind the words in ways that I wouldn't have otherwise. Finally, I created a visual that I will see every day on my bedroom door, so these goals stay fresh in my mind!
So I had my goals mapped out, I was ready to start the second trimester! I was going to tackle 2017! However, once the week started I immediately started to feel defeated. Between recurring illness (working with children... *sigh*), getting back into work routines after time off, making a giant decision about my future (applying to live in Spain a second year, Surprise!), being sleep deprived and feeling unprepared for my classes, I was starting to feel very overwhelmed and incapable of improving my habits and circumstances. Sam and I had been discussing all of these goal-oriented thoughts and were reminded of a book we have both read, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben. Sam said, if nothing changes and things stay busy and chaotic, at least we could try to focus on and improve one specific aspect of our lives every month? Why not?
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben basically devotes each month out of the year to focusing on ways of being happier with a specific area of her life, whether it is family, relationships, health, tidiness, etc. She takes the topic, analyzes it and decides which actions would make her happier in the given area of her life. I read this book going into 2015 and felt very inspired, but ultimately due to depression, a cross-country move, and other personal struggles, was not at the best point in life to embark on my own Happiness Project. Now, I feel much more capable of setting goals to make myself happier, and much more worthy of devoting the time to my own personal care and development.
So, with my goals as the underlying basis, I have decided to embark on a Happiness Project of my own! Sam and I decided that since physical fitness goals are among the highest on both of our lists, a great way to start the project would be to make January Strength Month! The focuses for this month for me are:
- Increase mental strength by developing will-power and self-discipline
- Increase physical strength with challenges, gym classes, new work outs, and regular lifting
- Meditation geared toward controlling empathic tendencies to feel more spiritually strong
- Begin training for a Spartan Race to take place in Madrid in April!
I have created a Happiness Project journal to document my progress over the course of each month, and I plan to post monthly updates in blog posts here! Additionally, we have decided to take before and after photos each month to document physical progress. This can feel silly and vain, but when you have big physical goals it is important to note the changes! I am posting my before photo here to remind myself how far I have already come. In 2016 I completely changed my own life, going from feeling weak, small, and depressed, to strong, capable and determined, but that story is for another blog post. The bottom line is that my body is proof of the changes I can make in my own life to become stronger and feel more capable as a woman.
I think Strength Month is about proving these things to myself again. The me that sets goals and writes them out is very capable, but now I need to see the me that takes those goals and turns them into actions come forth. I need to love myself enough to work hard at the things that are important to me every single day. I need to believe that I am mentally strong, resilient, capable, and deserving of achieving these things that mean so much to me. I need to know I am worthy of being a priority to myself.
I will spend this month exploring and pairing this notion with physical strength goals in an effort to grow and get closer to becoming the best version of myself. I am so excited to finally feel capable of this kind of project, and I can't wait to see how it develops over the course of the year. As of now I am taking my plan and running with it, allowing it to develop organically over time. I will sign out here as I do in my Happiness Journal, a simple request from the universe and affirmation of abundance: More Strength, Please!