Little Changes That Made Me Happier in 2016 (And Plans for 2017)


Hey Friends! 

Hard to believe 2016 is nearly over, isn't it? This year has been an incredible year for me. I really dove headfirst into blogging (and later podcasting) and have been having a lot of fun experimenting with new ideas for Maker Style.

Outside of the bloggosphere, my year was pretty awesome, too. I've been doing really well in school, felt really happy with my program, and scored an incredible internship that offered me a lot of really cool opportunities I could never have had elsewhere (like helping out with media relations when the Governor General of Canada visited).

It's been a wonderful year and I've been really, really happy. I attribute a lot of this new happiness to two little changes I've made in life. While I usually try to keep this blog mostly focused on sewing, with the new year right around the corner I wanted to share these changes with you in case they come in handy when setting your goals/resolutions for 2017.

My Instagram Best Nine for this year. 

My Instagram Best Nine for this year. 

The First: Ditching Resolutions in Favour of Picking a Word to live by

Instead of making a list of things I wanted to accomplish or change, I followed the principles of Ali Edward's One Little Word project by using one word to focus on, embody, and challenge myself to embrace during the year.

What I like so much about this approach is that by picking a word that really spoke to my desires for the year it helped me to live closer to my values and become the PERSON I wanted to be organically, instead of just crossing off a laundry list of achievements that might not have a lasting impact on my long-term character development.

It's the difference between saying I want to eat more vegetables and saying I want to embrace vitality in everything I do - the second is deeper, and more connected to my values. 

The word that I chose was grace.

I liked grace because I could interpret it in two ways: the first being to remind myself to show grace to myself and the second being to remind myself to show grace to others. Through showing grace, and ultimately being more understanding, patient, and kind, I have been able to soothe some of the more complicated relationships I have in my life - primarily the relationship I have with myself, but also some of the relationship I have with my loved ones. As counter-intuitive as this sounds, embodying grace has also allowed me to set better boundaries in my life. By trying to understand and empathize more, it's become easier to learn where I'm willing to compromise and where I am not.

If you're into podcasts and interested in this concept, check out this episode of Elise Get's Crafty where Elise and Ali discuss their 2017 words of the year. 

My "life" best nine this year. 

My "life" best nine this year. 

The Second: Using Values-Based Intentions Instead of Goals to Drive my Actions.

I've been listening to podcasts since I was 12-years-old, watching The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on my iPod before bed was my nightly routine. I go through phases where I'm more into podcasts, and this last summer I went through a really serious podcast kick. That awesome internship I mentioned earlier required a 1:30 hour commute each way to work every day, so I cancelled my Spotify subscription in favour to listening to podcasts to try and learn something while I drive instead of just zoning out.

I listened to a LOT of podcasts (this is actually when the idea for the Maker Style Podcast was born)  

I re-listened to all of Elise Gets Crafty, enjoyed lots of Modern Sewciety, but my favourite show out of all of them was the Lively Show. Jess Lively, the show's host, talks a lot about living with intention, finding flow, and getting more in touch with your intuition. At first I thought it was a little woo-woo, but the more I listened to her show and tried out a few of the things she was talking about I found that its actually really helpful stuff

The most helpful thing I was able to pull from listening to almost all the episodes of her show was using the concept of values-based intentions to find lasting happiness. She's written a lot of helpful information on her blog about what these values-based intentions can look like if you're interested in learning more about the concept. 

The way I use values-based intentions is to focus on my values more so than the tangible outcomes. For instance, publishing 50 episodes of Maker Style will not make me an uber-happy, super-successful podcasting star. Reaching that milestone will probably leave me feeling fulfilled for a day, if not less, before I'm chasing the next thing - thinking that once I reach that NEXT milestone I'll feel successful.

If I focus on an intention, like building a deeper connection with others in the sewing community, no matter what happens in my podcast in terms of metrics I'm left feeling proud and fulfilled. This is a huge win for my achievement-seeking, people-pleasing, perfectionist self - I'm sure all of you fellow perfectionists can relate. 

If you're always chasing the next goal, and never really feel satisfied with any of your accomplishments, I highly suggest at least entertaining the idea by reading this post when working on your plans for 2017. 

Again, if you're into podcasts this episode of Elise Get's Crafty (where Elise and Jess get together to chat) is a great place to learn more about the concept. 

So what about 2017?

I'm going to continue doing both of these things!

Following the One Little Word Project, the word I'm using to guide me this year is light. I'm going to be building my new values-based intentions around this concept. 

I chose light because, just like grace, it could be interpreted in two different ways. The first is to be more light-hearted and flow through life with a little less friction. I'm not sure if you guys can tell through the internet, but I'm pretty uptight. On this plus side, it means I'm fairly organized and usually pretty good at planning things, but it also means I get stressed out when things are out of my control. I think I miss out on a lot of fun being serious all the time, so this year I want to put a focus on enjoying life as it happens and micromanaging less - aka lightening up. 

(PS: Fellow fans of community, I'm basically Annie Edison. This will be me this year, loosey-goosey Rachel)

The second reason why I chose light was to symbolize being more positive - being the type of person that reflects light, energy, and happiness. Making sure my personal relationships, my work, and Maker Style all project light into the world will be a priority going forward. 

What about you?

Thank you for taking the time to reflect on some non-sewing stuff with me today. If you've been thinking about making changes for 2017, I hope some of the links and info I've shared above might be helpful for you. I would love to hear how you like to approach the new year. Do you do resolutions? Let me know!

I wish all of you the best in 2017. 

PS: New episode of the Maker Style Podcast is coming on Monday. It's a great episode where we will dig down and chat about growing and changing as sewists and bloggers - you won't want to miss it, I've been saving it for the new year :)