The first month of 2020 is already over, and it has flown by. Historically, the month of January has always been quite difficult for me, as it usually overlaps with a stressful period at work and I often get sick at the start of the year.
This January was different. It was a much better month, and therefore, 2020 is off to a pretty good start!
If you want a TLDR of this month’s update, here are the things that happened:
- I told my boss that I’m gonna quit my job somewhere in May!
- I struggled with a bit of insomnia again (ugh).
- I continued running and skateboarding as much as possible since I know that physical exercise makes me extremely happy.
- My girlfriend and I are planning our sabbatical, and we can’t be more excited.
- Lots of relaxing and hanging around and enjoying my happy, uneventful life
But before diving into the nitty-gritty details, let’s have a look at the data I tracked in my happiness journal this month.
My average happiness rating this month was 7.88. This is much better than:
- My average of 2019, which was 7.68.
- My average in January 2019, which was 7.25.
- My average in January 2018, which was 7.29.
I call this a nice improvement.
Positive happiness factors
What caused me to be this happy in January? Here’s a bar chart showing all the factors that had a positive influence on my happiness:
From this chart, 2020 looks to have been a really happy and uneventful month for me. I spend the bulk of my happy days with my girlfriend, just relaxing and enjoying the simple things of life (like watching good series or going on long walks).
What helps is that the weather is unusually warm for this time of the year. In fact, here’s a picture I took from one of our long walks in January!
Happy relaxing life
If you want to get a better idea of what an average day in January looked like for me, then here’s my journal entry for the 3rd day of the month. This was a typical happy and uneventful day, which I rated with an 8.25 on a scale from 1 to 10.
What a GREAT day.
(Even though I woke up early by some idiot who was working a leaf blower right underneath my bedroom window… Yuck.)
Spent the morning working on my website and relaxing, all the way until noon. Nothing special, so after doing this a couple of hours, I wanted to do something else. So I forced myself to go for a run, even though I really dreaded it. The weather was terrible, as it was raining and very windy, but I still forced myself to go. The first 5 minutes were horrible, as I got splashed in my face by the rain and constant headwind. But once I made it to the woods (soaking wet, that is) I suddenly got into the flow of things. I managed to forget about the shitty weather and focused on the beauty and silence of the woods, as I was all alone. It felt amazing, and I ended up running 11 kilometers. YES!
Spend the rest of the day relaxing, cooking and eating dinner while watching ‘The Good Place’ on Netflix with my girlfriend.
I even got my girlfriend to play a game of Battlefield (Firestorm). She actually survived a game long enough to be one of the last 4 men standing, by hiding and avoiding the fight completely lol. Eventually, she was shot in the back when another player found her. Hilarious.
All in all, a lovely relaxing day. 🙂
This was at the start of the year, before I had to go back to work.
Back to work and dropping the bomb
During the last 2 months of 2019, I was completely fed up with my work, up to the point that I just didn’t care anymore.
My girlfriend and I had decided to go on a sabbatical a long time ago, and that we would both resign from our jobs this year. I had planned to wait with handing in my notice, at least until the performance reviews started. But as my lack of fucks given only increased, I decided to just tell my bosses that I would be leaving the company.
It wasn’t going to be a fun conversation, since my company is already facing a lot of challenges growing our team. My leaving would only amplify these problems.
I told my managers on the 22nd. Here’s how that conversation went:
Me: “So I’ve got some news, which you’re not going to like.”
Me: “I’ll be leaving this company somwhere around May, in approximately 3.5 months.”
Manager: “No way.”
Me: “Yes, I’m teling this now already so you have some time to figure out how to deal with this.”
Manager: “Why will you be leaving?”
Me: “To go on a sabattical, to travel the world with my girlfriend.”
Manager: “Wow that’s great, what are you going to do once you get back” (my manager is happy at this point that I’m not switching jobs to a competitor)
Me: “I don’t know, but assume that I’m not going back here.”
Manager: “Oh okay, anyway, thanks for letting us know this far ahead.”
(My manager already knew that I was a little frustrated with my job, so I don’t think this update came as a complete surprise.)
Slowly over time, the word spread to the rest of my department, and people starting to question me about my plans. And I happily told them everything with a big smile on my face, knowing that I’d be leaving the company.
To be completely fair, the company has been good for me. I started my career here 5.5 years ago, and I’ve always been relatively happy at my job. However, the past year (or even the past two years), my work has slowly become busier, more chaotic and overall just less enjoyable. This resulted in quite some months in which my happiness was significantly affected by my growing hatred for this job:
Since I’m tracking my happiness every day, I try to re-read some of my journal entries from time to time, and whenever I do this, it’s clear how my job has slowly become a source of unhappiness for me. That’s why it feels so good to have finally told my colleagues that I’ll be fucking off.
For more info regarding this massive change in my life, here’s a good article I wrote on this topic.
Other positive happiness factors!
Skateboarding has been my most fun hobby ever since I got back into it in July 2019. The feeling of landing a string of tricks in a flowing line in a skatepark is amazing. Sure, I bail every now and then which leaves the occasional wound and/or bruise, but this doesn’t weigh up to how happy it makes me.
It also happens to be a great way to burn calories, which allows me to eat more after skating for 2 hours. 🙂
Now that I’ve officially landed my first proper 360-flip, I’m trying to learn even more advanced tricks to put in my lines. I really hope that skateboarding remains a big positive factor in my happiness in 2020.
Whereas skateboarding might have been my new hobby for 2019, I might have already found a new hobby for 2020: drawing!
One of the new things I’m trying is to draw in a sketchbook that I got from Santa Claus in December, and it’s been a lot of fun! Not just that, it’s also really soothing for my mind, as it’s relaxing and allows me to focus on just 1 thing, without having to worry about all the other stuff that’s going on around me.
I really enjoy drawing animals and have focused on trying to copy pictures of some of the dogs that were/are my friends throughout my life. Here’s one of Frodo, my parents’ dog, copied from a picture of when he was just a little puppy.
Going to the spa
My girlfriend and I visited a spa again, on the 25th of January. It was – again – a lovely day where we forgot about the concept of time and just relaxed from morning to dawn. We’ll probably keep doing this from time to time, as it is a fantastic way to clear your mind and not worry about a thing.
Spending time with friends
In addition to the relaxing and uneventful days, I also try to alternate some social days with friends in my life. January was no different, as I spent a couple of days hanging out with close friends. This includes a day of mountain biking, drinking a couple of beers and some nice get-togethers, which always lift my happiness.
Going on long walks
Since my girlfriend and I moved in together, we’ve started going on long walks together. This brings us closer together, allows us to have a conversation without any distractions, and it keeps us in shape. In January, we’ve probably walked more than 100 kilometers together and it’s definitely made me a lot happier.
This journal entry below shows quite well how simply walking helps me maintain a happy mind. I wrote this on the 28th of January, a day that I rated with a 7 on a scale from 1 to 10.
I woke up this night at 04:00 AM and I was wide awake. Fucking annoying. My sleep has been pretty bad lately. Since I couldn’t get back to sleep, I just got out of bed and got to work. Needless to say, I was the first in the office.
Still, it was a very busy day… I originally wanted to go skating straight after work, but I had zero energy. In fact, I nearly fell asleep on my way back from work. My girlfriend decided to skip her visit to the gym as well, so we could just relax together for the rest of the evening. So we just had an easy dinner and went walking for over an hour, which was great. We really needed it, or at least I did. When we got back, we watched the Game of Thrones pilot together. I don’t expect that she’ll want to continue watching, since she rolled her eyes a lot during the episode, but I kinda hope it will grow on her lol…
We went to bed quite early and I fell asleep like a log.
With that journal entry, let’s continue to the negative factors that influenced my happiness in January 2020.
Negative happiness factors
Here are the negative factors that influenced my happiness this month:
The main factor that triggers me here is “Tired“.
This month, I experienced quite some insomnia, specifically some nights wherein I woke up in the middle of the night feeling wide awake. It sorta felt like I was severely jetlagged, and it messed with my energy levels. Especially after a long and busy day – like the example above – it resulted in reduced happiness ratings. 🙁
Hopefully, I’ll be able to sleep better in February!
That’s it again! The first month of 2020 has flown by, and I can happily say that it was a great month.
Work is manageable, my girlfriend and I are eagerly anticipating our sabbatical and we’re trying to enjoy our journey to this goal.
I’m looking forward to seeing you back here for next month’s update!
Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 7 years.