Oct 4, 2016

Happiness Project Month 2: Social (and Career Development Progress)

First an update.

Month 1 Update: Career Development.

I said before that I was trying to build on the momentum of some things I had in the works.  That was true but I also forgot I had a week vacation planned with my sisters.  Sooo... that week was spent more on snatching a few moments to read a business blog, and doing just enough work to keep up with client obligations, and then some other junk happened, but instead of listing all my excuses, I'll just tell you how I did.

I made myself a handy dandy chart/daily checklist a la Gretchen Rubin.

Here's how I did on each of my resolutions.

1. Spend at Least 5 Hours on Business Activities W, Th, F - Meh

So... even after I got back from vacation, there were days when personal projects took priority, or I didn't track my time well enough to really know what I did and it's SO EASY to not sit down and work when there's no clients keeping me accountable.  But I did hit my stride near the end when I dug into Wordpress and started rebuilding my website for mobile and those projects got me interested enough that it wasn't even hard to hit my time quota.

2. Track Time Usage - Check

Again, this didn't happen right away, but I'm checking it off because after poking around I finally found a solution that works for me.  Like my digital planner, it's an app, because any solution that requires me to carry paper or be at my computer to use is going to work, whereas my phone goes everywhere with me so I can walk to the kitchen, realize I forgot to hit the stop on my time, and do it from there instead of walking back up to my office.  The app is Gleeo Time Tracker and it's a little confusing to get into, but it has good tutorials and once you get your tasks set up it is so easy to use.  Just hit play and stop.  I'd like to delve into what my biggest time wasters are, but I think I need another couple of weeks with this app before I can give definitive answers as to what my patterns are.

3. Follow Up With Clients Weekly - Check!

All the points for this one!  So this is hard for me because I feel like I'm bothering people.  I refused to let myself squirm out of sending reminder emails or checking in just because I felt uncomfortable and it was great, because A) I got paid for an invoice that was more than a month overdue and B) One of my check-ins resulted in the project continuing rather than stalling out and dying (which I had assumed had already happened)

4. Say Yes to All Potential Networking Activities - Check!

There weren't that many, but I did attend the Mascara and Mimosas brunch in DE, which was by far the best networking event I've ever been to!  It had been recommended by a woman I'm trying to get a mentorship with, so in addition to finding a good crowd of like-minded business owners, I was able to meet her in person and kind of get my foot in the door with this particular community.  Side note: I LOVED that most of these women were entrepreneurs with their own, unique business ideas and not just, "Oh I sell [x pyramid scheme product]."

I also joined a couple Facebook groups recommended to me by the lovely Kelli of 3K VA Services and I'm really enjoying their interactions.  So far it's mostly just chitchat, but being able to talk to people about business topics without their eyes glazing over is awesome, and I did get a good recommendation for a Wordpress tool when I was digging into backend design on that platform.

And I added a couple more along the way.

5. Listen to Business Podcasts/Read Business Books and Blogs - Check!

Initially I was very excited about a couple of my podcasts, but I've kind of fallen off the wagon.  I feel like the majority of them are just, "Here's me interviewing this successful person" instead of real content.  So I'm not going to force myself to keep listening.  BUT I did find several business blogs I like (including Kelli's) and those are on my Feedly now and I read a bunch of good books.  Absolute favorite: Networking for People Who Hate Networking.

6. Create Informative or Educational Material - Mostly Check

I updated my business social media, got on Instagram for business, set up all my RSS feeds in one Hootsuite account, and tried to optimize my business blog for social sharing.  I also wrote a couple posts I really liked and worked on finding "my voice" which was surprisingly hard, because I had trouble finding a balance between the informality I use here and boring professionalism.  I think I have it now!  But I still tend to write each post twice.  Once in this voice and then again without the curse words and the self deprecatory humor, but keeping the anecdotes and (informed) opinions.  The hard part: keeping up with it.  I'm kind of torn because I don't know that my target audience is on Instagram and Twitter, but I guess I won't find out if I don't at least give them a shot AND a lot of the women from the networking event are there, so I've followed a bunch of them and I'll see how it goes.

Other Stuff

I made affirmations, but as per my usual self, those were used very infrequently.  I might still try it again for next month and maybe even set myself a calendar reminder to see if it goes better when I don't forget about it completely.  Maybe taping to the mirror would be better than keeping them in my google doc check list.  I completed the to do list I had made in my last post, but not the new items I added, which, frankly, were probably a bit ambitious anyway (limiting myself to 3 to do list items and 5 resolutions for future months).  When I applied for the mentorship with a graphic design company in DE I was just reaching for any potential education instead of sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for clients.  I was disappointed that she gave me homework instead of welcoming me in to learn from her right away but having those goals so clearly defined was immensely helpful in getting me kick-started on acquiring new skills for my business.

I know the ins and outs of Wordpress now, and I can create child themes to customize freebie themes (that aren't always very customizable on their own).  I'm pretty comfortable building responsive websites that adapt well to mobile AND desktop.  I updated my service list to reflect these skills and plan to start building a portfolio that displays examples of each, even if I have to offer up a couple more freebie websites.  Honestly, I don't even care if I get into the mentorship program now, because I've already learned most of the things I wanted to learn and I have a direction to head in.

So overall I'm pretty happy with the progress that I've made and I think I'm on a good path to start picking my own educational and business promotional projects to fill whatever extra time isn't used up by client work.  I do need to find some additional networking activities, however, because my new favorite group isn't meeting again until January 29th and, as that is 2 days before my due date, I'll probably be missing that one.

I'm really, really tempted to make a bunch of business goals, but that's not the point of this project, so instead I'll reluctantly set down career development and try to focus on social topics.

Month 2 Goals: Social

Breaking this up a bit, since I've restructured since the first month.  The things I struggle with most in the social sphere are not reaching out to friends and letting friendships drift away, and not being as tolerant or as considerate as I could be.  So the focus is generally in those areas and the end goal is not necessarily acquiring more friends (difficult to do in one short month) but making myself better friend material.


  1. I am positive; I lift people up instead of bringing them down
  2. I am considerate; I think of other people's needs and remember to ask about their lives
  3. I am tolerant; I give people the benefit of the doubt


  1. Avoid gossip
  2. Read books about friendships or making friends
  3. Compliment someone
  4. Empathize instead of judging
  5. Say yes to helping people or doing favors

To Do

  1. Commit to 1 social event per week
  2. Have a conversation or spend time with each friend I have at least once this month
  3. Reach out to one new potential friend

October is actually a very good month for social, because we're hosting a Halloween party and I already have a lot of social events scheduled, so I won't be scrambling to invite people to things last minute.  But I intend to make the best use of the things I do have planned and try to make sure no one is left out.

Do you have any social goals you set for yourself?  How do you go about trying to make new friends?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design


  1. This is great. I've tried to make similar charts/docs to keep myself accountable when face-time with a supervisor or client doesn't exist, but it made me realize that a) I get anxious when I have too many lists (and I always have too many lists) and b) the answer for me is honestly just be more disciplined, which I know how to and sometimes just refuse to do. I've thought about using something like Toggl to track time, but (and this is so bad) I KNOW exactly what my time-wasters are. I know how I stall and procrastinate and avoid work. I am horrified to face the numbers that tell me exactly how much I do it, so I avoid it. It's like people who are so in debt they don't even look at their CC balances. I know it's bad...I just want to ignore it so I can pretend it's not THAT bad. Oof.
    Anyway. What I've started doing to keep myself focused is scheduling every part of my workday in Google calendar, task by task or meeting by meeting. I schedule in "break time" too, though, so I don't feel like I'm slaving away all day. It's working...okay. I still need more discipline though, hah.

  2. I was inspired by your enthusiasm and review for The Happiness Project and just finished reading it myself. I'm going to set my own happiness goals, and like you, I'm not planning a goal for every month but just going to focus on the few that really matter to me. Haven't set them yet, that's the to-do for this month, but it is very exciting to see how working on your goals is making a positive difference!

  3. I would say that you did really well!!! The Mascara and Mimosas brunch sounds like so much fun! I love that you met other women who have their own businesses. Ahhhhh I really hope I am among them some day...and sooner rather than later!

  4. good luck with your social goals! something i have always remembered is to have good friends you have to be a good friend - or whatever the saying is. i try and remember to be a good friend, though it's definitely hard because i guess naturally i'm not a nice person lol. but as i've gotten older i've had less friends, but they are better, so i want to put effort into those friendships. basically like you said. i'm having a lot of issues with one friend right now and i could really be more considerate or tolerant.. i am definitely not doing that right now, and it's a strain.

  5. Looks like the Happiness Project had a very positive effect on you! Congrats on all of your business goals! I hate professional "networking" because it always seems like bs chit-chat, so it's really awesome that you found that brunch one with like-minded women. I need to check out that book! I have no idea how to make friends as an adult- the last time I tried I found Blue lol. So if you find any tips- please share!

  6. I have been writing down all positive things and sticking it in a happiness jar. We are going to read them on New Years eve. I have been really trying to work on an etsy shop. I have taken a class but it didn't get into some topics as much as I wished. So I am try to do small business research on my own.


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