a few steps to increase happiness

Hi readers,

So many FIRE writers, bloggers, and podcasters talk about taking steps they to find out what truly makes them happy and fulfilled. We hear about people doing various exercises to determine true life priorities, and then people putting their effort (and money) into the things that are important to them.

Inspired by others I’m trying to align the time and money that I spend with what makes me happy. In this blog, I’d like to touch on the steps that we take that get us closer to our ultimate goal of personal fulfillment. When we DO get to retirement, we will not have wasted our working years, but instead spent our precious little free time on things that bring us happiness and fulfillment, while setting a solid foundation for the next chapter.

Here’s some intentional changes that I’ve made lately:

  • Deleted the Facebook app off my phone: Inspired by so many others who have completely deleted Facebook, I deleted it from my phone about a week ago. I don’t miss it. I do check once per day and look at things like events that I’ve been invited to, but the endless scrolling and pure crap content is no longer in my face all day. I couldn’t be happier with this decision. And, if I continue to decline my use of the site, I can absolutely see myself deleting it completely in the future.
  • Started Couch to 5k (C25K) again: For me, exercise is crucial in maintaining happiness, but I also struggle with injury. I spent the first few months of 2019 in physical therapy for knee and shoulder injuries, but I feel ready to push myself a little. I know I need to start slow, along with stretching and icing, so I am using the C25K app to steadily increase my endurance
  • Canceled plans to focus on our family: Every weekend (and a lot of weeknights), we have been socializing. As a natural introvert (but learned extrovert, when I need it), I got really burned out. We canceled plans to spend the day going to the swimming pool with Bo, taking a long walk (me), mowing the lawn (Al), playing video games, watching movies, and eating brownies. I felt bad about canceling plans, and in the future I plan to keep a day free and not schedule in the first place. But this time, I just hit some sort of social exhaustion level and couldn’t do it. I know I needed that day to feel replenished.
The circus out for a short run. Bear is more “couch” than “5k”.

While I don’t feel unhappy by any means (in fact, quite the opposite!), making intentional choices in how we spend our time is crucial, especially given the fact that we have so little free time. Though it’s not uncommon for both parents to work, it does mean that all of our non-work obligations fall into our free time, and I do feel the lack of free time affecting me. There are many days that I don’t do anything for myself, aside from my lunch time walk at work, until after 7:00pm. By the time I’m prepared for the following day’s activities, I’m completely exhausted. I always feel the drive for some sort of creative pursuits (blogging seems to be the easiest!), but I’m a morning person and it’s extremely difficult for me to time-box creativity and pull it out on demand.

I’m curious how others find time to pursue what makes them happy. Reader, if you can’t “do it all”, how do you prioritize? Into what activities do you put your time and energy, and does that align with what makes you happy?

Cheers,
Mel