One of the biggest benefits of getting older is the realization that trying to be anything other than yourself is a gigantic waste of time. I used to believe that there was a happiness formula that was outside of myself and that if I could just distill what it was, I would finally achieve fulfillment in my life. I spent a ton of time trying to learn from and emulate those who seemed more successful, happier, more fulfilled . . . you name it. I spent even more time chasing big goals and accolades in hopes of finally feeling like I was good enough. I didn’t even know what I was looking for exactly, nor could I describe to you what I thought this formula consisted of. But, this feeling that I could somehow be better if I made the “right” changes to myself, or achieved the right goals, followed me through my early life.
I can’t necessarily pinpoint an exact time or place when that depleting feeling went away. But the happiness and fulfillment I feel now was worth the journey. I’d be lying if I said that achieving some of my major life goals didn’t contribute to that. But I learned that no external validation was going to provide the inner peace for which I was searching. Instead of looking outside of myself for an external formula, I realized I just had to look deeper within. There are no external timelines, no races to run, no standards to maintain. I finally began to accept the things that I couldn’t change, and change the things I wanted to.
Part of my personal formula involves, you guessed it, organizing. Other people are not nearly as organized as I am . . . obviously. This desire to be freakishly organized comes from within me. Period. I do not reorganize my refrigerator every night because I think someone else would be disappointed in me if I forget. I do not tidy up whenever I leave a room because I think I should. I do it because it’s what I want to do. Being organized is a pillar in my castle of joy. Being organized energizes me. Feeling disorganized drains me. And I want to feel energized, always.
But, keep in mind that all of this organizing and tidying has opportunity costs. The time I spend in my refrigerator could be spent doing something else, like working on my Grid + Glam blog, or exercising, or reading. I recognize this, and I’m totally OK with it. I am following my own formula for happiness, and mine just happens to involve a significant amount of organizing.
Do you feel like you’ve been trying to follow someone else’s formula for happiness? Or do you feel like you’ve found your own formula? While I have determined most of my own formula, it certainly isn’t set in stone. I am constantly evolving as a person, mother, wife, friend, daughter, and business owner. So, when I feel like things are getting a little off-kilter, sometimes I sit down to find my formula again. That process looks a little something like this:
Finding My Formula
- 1. I start by making a list of what I want out of life. What is my Why? My big picture? And, how do I want to feel? Who do I want to be?
- 2. Next, I make a list of how many of those feelings or answers I already have, and make sure I acknowledge myself for that. I also reflect upon the steps I took to get there.
- 3. Finally, and most importantly, I find the places where I need to make some progress and come up with tiny, daily changes I can make. I have seen over and over again how small changes build upon themselves to create major progress.
For me, sometimes this looks like putting my phone down when I pick up my kids from school, and ignoring it for at least a couple of hours until after they go to bed. It looks like rarely drinking during the week and minimizing my sugar intake. It means playing music and having kitchen dance parties when we cook meals or put away groceries. It always means not comparing my journey to anyone else’s. There is no behind because this is not a race.
My hope for you during this last month of the year is that you find that formula, so you can feel amazing and energized . . . or whatever it is you want to feel. I hope that you’ll spend the next few weeks celebrating yourself. But most of all, I hope that you can love (and like!) yourself no matter what.
Comment below on the key to your own formula. I’d love to know! And if you think a friend would find this helpful, pass it along.