Our Happiness Project // Month 3 Recap: Reach for the Stars


Another month, another attempt at changing habits and improving our overall happiness! If you've been keeping track, you know that Zach and I have been making our way through Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, reading and working on one chapter each month. Last month we worked through chapter three, which was all about aiming higher at work.

Happiness at work is incredibly important because the majority of us spend most of our days working. Not to mention the fact that happiness is proven to improve work performance. As noted in the chapter, happy people outperform the less happy. Also, even though they tend to work more hours, both at work and in their free time, happy people tend to be more cooperative, less self-centered, and more willing to help other people. The work/life happiness cycle is basically on a never-ending loop, each continuously contributing and strengthening the other.

We're both very work-focused in this stage of our lives, so this was our favorite chapter yet. Today we're sharing a few things that stuck out to us and the tools we've learned to continue bettering our work/life balance and overall happiness.


Work Dare #1: Try Something New

Z: Reading this chapter made me feel energized and motivated. In the book, this idea of trying new things at work was manifested through Rubin launching her own blog. When I read about this, I realized I had really missed writing for fun. I've been trying to set aside time in the morning for creative writing and, although it doesn't happen every day, it has helped me to feel more calm and focused throughout my work day.

A: To this same idea, I've also been trying to illustrate in the morning while Zach writes. This has been a long-standing goal of mine that I never seem to prioritize, but I've found that sharing the time with him has helped me to make it more of a priority. I think expressing myself in another medium has also helped me to feel freer in all areas of my design work. Again, there are a lot of days that our schedules have gotten in the way and we haven't been able to have our creative morning time, but I hope it's something we continue to improve upon in upcoming months, because I do really love it and I agree that it sets a calm and focused tone for the day.



Work Dare #2: Learn to Enjoy Failure

A: Oh boy, did I embrace failure this month! I was excited to be asked to interview for Fashion Week Columbus and, even though we weren't even close to ready, my design partner, Shiree, and I worked around the clock to get sample pieces ready to show the judges. After the interview, we found out we had placed in the top ten out of all the designers who interviewed, so that felt really great. The bad news, however, was that they would only be choosing seven to actually show at the finale runway show. So we took to Instagram and participated in a "likes" race against other designers, some of whom were way more established than us and had thousands more followers than us, in hopes to get that coveted 7th spot. We campaigned our faces off and some days were in the lead, but ultimately we ended up losing to a Fashion Week veteran. This seemed fair to me. He's been building a brand for years, whereas I am still a week away from the official launch of mine. And as much as I believe that, losing was still a bit of a bummer. I honestly don't think I've ever put myself out there quite like that, especially when I had a good feeling that it was going to end in a loss. It was a totally valuable experience for me because, for one, I made some great networking connections and gained new followers and supporters of the brand. But more importantly, I realized how much support I already had in my life. I had so many people sharing posts and tagging friends and really working hard for my dreams. This, cheesy as it may sound, was actually way more valuable than winning that last designer spot. Plus, I've still got Alternative Fashion Week coming up (so soon!) and as far as Fashion Week Columbus, there's always next year, right?!

Z: I didn't really put myself out there in quite that way this month, but I definitely feel like I rode that ride with Ashley. She has to put herself out there all of the time with work and it always makes me really proud of her. I think this was the first time she's done that and had it not work out in one or another and, really, in some ways that is even more impressive, because she had a good attitude about it and has put even more into her other projects since then.

A: My main takeaway from all of this was that I want to try and remember the good feelings that came with trying and failing. It makes it easier to think about pitching to a brand or publication or other things I want to do but make me nervous. When it comes to professional networking, even the rejections can lead to positive connections or opportunities for the future.



Work Dare #3: Work Smart

Z: One of the challenges this month was to try and work more efficiently, which for me involved putting my phone down. Between reading news, checking social media, and playing Madden, I realized that screen time was killing my productivity. Ashley's been on me about this for a while, but I didn't really notice that it was such a problem until I forgot my charger one day and was phone-less for the entire workday. I was so productive that day that it made it hard to deny the impact it was having. Now I'm more conscious of it and try to limit phone use only to breaks and put it out of sight when I'm working on other things.

A: For me, I put some extra attention into managing my time throughout the day. I have been working on a collection for Alternative Fashion Week in Columbus and the finale show is THIS SUNDAY (Agh!), so a lot of my days lately have been eaten up by things I absolutely have to get done at that moment for promo events. But on days when I have had more time-management options I've been trying to utilize block scheduling. I can have a really hard time focusing on one thing for very long, but I know that if I can actually push through and just work on one thing for the set amount of time, my block, my productivity is like night and day compared to when I bounce back and forth between projects. After the show this weekend, I hope to really commit to this for a while and plan to share a bit about the process here soon.

Have you read The Happiness Project? What did you like about this chapter? What tips help you stay happy and productive in life and work? Let's chat it out in the comments! :)




For June, we're focusing on Chapter 4, which is all about lightening up, specifically when it comes to parenting. So parents, if you want to join in, you can pick up your own copy and work through the challenges with us, or simply make sure you're subscribed to blog posts to stay up on tips, tricks, and what we're learning. We obviously do not have children but it's hopefully down the road at some point, so I'm still looking forward to this chapter. And fortunately, as I've been reading, I'm realizing that this is a good chapter for all relationships in general. So whether you're a soccer mom or a bachelorette, we'll be wrapping up next month's chapter with kind of a different twist to hopefully relate to everyone.

Happy reading!