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An Intentional Year: 8 Things That Made Me Happier in 2014

by 97495429 December 29, 2014

2014 has been a wonderful year. I've traveled, spent time with the people I love, read new books, developed new skills, eaten lots of delicious food, grown my business, and have overall had a very happy year. That's not to say that everything has always been perfect or easy, but the difference between this year and years past is that I've chosen to be happy. After reflecting a bit, I realized the key to my happiness has been that I've become more intentional with how I spend my time – who I spend it with, what I'm doing, how I spend my free time, and the time I dedicate to my goals. Here are a few things I've learned this year that have led to an intentionally happier and healthier 2014.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="610.0"]From a trip to the Warhol Museum // Getting up close with one of my favorite pieces of art From a trip to the Warhol Museum // Getting up close with one of my favorite pieces of art[/caption]

1. "Buy once, cry once." 

Over the past year I was more intentional about how and where I spent my money. I worked on filling my wardrobe with timeless classics and spent a little more on the pieces I wear frequently (like a few great pairs of jeans, rather than 20 "so-so" pairs). I made fewer impulse purchases. So while I may have fewer things, I've built a small collection of better things. More often than not I end up wearing the pieces I spent a little more on because they fit better and wear better. Quality over quantity, always.

2. You can do anything, but not everything. 

As a small business owner, I'm constantly trying to manage every single detail of my business – from design to marketing to shipping. This past year I've learned that it isn't sustainable to check off every box on my to-do list every day. It's taught me to prioritize and to focus on the direction I want my business (and life to go) and stop wasting time on filler things that keep me busy but aren't necessarily productive.

3. Make time for fun.

 Schedule it. Seriously. What makes you happy? Visiting museums? Reading every night? Sketching? Your daily yoga practice? Travel? A monthly mani/pedi? Dinner with friends? If you are anything like me and can easily get lost in work until 2 am, build fun into your schedule.  Scheduling fun in my life has even made me enjoy my work more. Being overworked, exhausted, or on the verge of burnout is not fun or beneficial to you or anyone around you. Seriously, go have some fun.

4. Let go of relationships that no longer serve you & make time for the relationships that do. 

Way easier said than done, but I've found that I'm happier overall since I've stopped putting time and effort into relationships that are draining and (more often than not) bring me down, and started putting more time into relationships that encourage me, lift me up, and make me happy. We all have those difficult relationships with people we care deeply about – not putting energy into them doesn't mean we don't care about them, but that we do care about ourselves. It's funny how it all works out, but I've noticed that when you create "space" where something negative used to exist, it might be painful for some time, but it is often quickly filled with better things. Being intentional about my time and exactly who I spend it with has made an enormous impact on my happiness. 


5. Also, let go of preconceived ideas of what your life "should be" and how & when things should happen. 

You may not be exactly where you thought you would when you were 16 (I sure didn't think I would be an entrepreneur), but that's probably for the best. Chances are if you talk to anyone else, they'll say their life probably hasn't gone as planned either. As long as you are working hard towards your goals, while you may not be completely in control of timing, you are in control of the direction you take your life.

6. Be kind. 

Kindness seriously goes a long way. Smile, say thank you, give a compliment to a stranger. People truly appreciate kindness. I think a big part of the problem with our world today is that we forget that people are people. We are all human beings who should be treated with kindness. You're kindness will make you feel good inside.

7. Travel as often as possible. 

Travel will almost always leave you refreshed, reenergized and excited to jump back into your work and life. The best thing about travel is that it creates space to think and forces you to see things from new perspective, even if it's only for a weekend. I traveled a few new places this year, as well as a few places I'd already been before, and from each place I left with a bunch of amazing new memories. I don't regret a dime spent on my travels; "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes your richer."

8. Take time. 

Take time to reflect. Take time to celebrate. Take time to feel grateful. Just take time. Our society is so fast-paced and driven by instant results (which can be a great thing), but it's also so important to slow down and take time (offline) to process and enjoy everything that you've experienced. This year, I made the effort to unplug, relax, spend time outside, and celebrate the little things rather than jumping right into my next task/goal, and it made all the difference.

 

How was your 2014? Did you learn anything that you plan on taking into the new year?




97495429
97495429

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4 Responses

Ashley T
Ashley T

November 19, 2015

Love this list Melissa and couldn’t agree more! I’m a big believer in #6 and #7!

Melissa Noucas | The Atelier
Melissa Noucas | The Atelier

November 19, 2015

Listening to your body (instead of always pushing past the "breaking point") is so, so important and definitely something I’m still very much working on. Thanks so much for your awesome, insightful comment!

P.S. I still get caught up in one too many Netflix marathons ;)

Melissa Noucas | The Atelier
Melissa Noucas | The Atelier

November 19, 2015

Thanks, Ashley!! xo

Rosella LaFevre, Marketing Consultant
Rosella LaFevre, Marketing Consultant

November 19, 2015

This is a wonderful list of valuable insights. I’m always grateful that I learned a long time ago to stop putting effort into painful, draining relationships. I still struggle to remember that I don’t have to do — and can’t do — everything. Kindness is something I think I’ve always known the value of, but this year, I learned that being assertive isn’t the exact opposite of kindness. And I love the last point about taking time. I have learned to give into my instincts — if I feel tired or like I need to take the day off, I do — but I really need to develop creative, fulfilling hobbies that restore my creativity and energy for the work I do. I sometimes feel like all I do is work or binge-watch TV.

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