Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, "Happiness is not a goal ... It's a byproduct of a life well lived." Simply put, happiness is not a goal but the result of reaching other goals and living a fulfilling life.
One way to reach your goals, according to Molly Burford, in the introduction of "The Good Morning Journal: 5-minute Guided Reflections to Start Your Day with Inspiration, Purpose and a Plan," is to start a morning routine.
Typically, morning routines, she writes, include items such as "waking up on time; immediately brushing your teeth and taking a brisk walk." All are fine, but the best practice, Burford says, is a reflective journaling process: "It's only 5 minutes — that's 300 seconds — all about you."
And who doesn't have 5 minutes to set aside for themselves? And that's the point of "The Good Morning Journal," which aims to focus and motivate you and help you start your day with a positive mindset.
The journal is set up to track daily how you feel each morning and asks you to set how you'd like to feel at the end of the day. Then, it asks you to prioritize three items that will help you obtain that end-of-day feeling, as well as state three ways you'll honor making those items priorities. You're also asked to name three things you want to accomplish during the day and three ways you'll make sure you'll complete those goals. On a second page, you're asked to plan out, hour-by-hour, how you'll use your time. There's also an inspirational quote to help start your day.
"Your time is most useful when you create a plan for how it will be spent," Burford says. "But it's not all about productivity and work; it's about your life too! As you schedule in the essential obligations and to-dos, don't forget to include the fun things too. Time to focus on a hobby or interest. A coffee break. A phone call or meet up with a loved one. Even just time to daydream."
At the end of the day, you can give your day a rating of one to five stars, and focus on the next day by setting an intention for how and why it will be better.
Rating your day or scheduling time to daydream might sound silly and counterintuitive, but for some of us, taking time to check in with ourselves; to reflect on our day can be helpful. It's OK to give yourself a small pat on the back.
"If you didn't meet your goals, that's OK. Focus on progress, not perfection. If you fell short, reflect on why and decide how you can make more progress the next day," Burford writes. "Be gentle with yourself and make sure your expectations and plans are realistic. Also, be sure to celebrate your successes and give yourself credit for what you did accomplish."