One of my favorite feel good/self improvement books is Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. It’s chock full of simple but incredibly useful practices to help make our lives a little bit happier. One of my favorite lessons from the book was the author’s effort to “be Gretchen,” meaning, to truly focus on being herself in every sense of the word. Instead of living a life focused on what other’s wanted or wanted for her, she was going to focus on living the life she wanted. I came across this idea again over Christmas break when I was thumbing through the intro to her latest publication, and it hit me pretty hard. 

When it comes to self confidence, I’ve got gaping holes. I can appear confident from the outside, but inside there are lots of voices questioning everything I do. I’m constantly working to not compare myself to others but often fail, and can easily question if my way is the right way. But something about the simplicity of “Be Clara” made me realize how detrimental (and sad) it can be to consistently lose myself in the mix. Being Clara sounds more fun! It’s sounds healthier, more successful, and more carefree. And I want all of those things in in 2014. So here are a few ways I’m focusing on being me in the 12 months to come:

Eating What’s Right for Me: At the end of last year I got really caught up in this book, all about how grains and gluten are killing our guts and our brains. This is a big rabbit hole. I know for some people the elimination of grains from their diet is life changing and life saving. It’s life changing for me, too. I know that if my meals only consist of pancakes, pizza, and pasta I will feel like a miserable slug. But I also know that if I’m sleeping well, exercising, and eating a diet that consists of things like Greek yogurt, homemade granola, tons of dark greens, plenty of olive oil, a bit of French cheese and crusty baguette, and local meats and fish, I’ll feel great. This is what works for me.

Materials Possessions ≠ Self Worth: I saw so many of those Céline luggage totes last year I pretty much convinced myself it would make me a better and happier person if I had one. I know we feel this way about material things all the time, but the thing is, as a person, I really don’t like to own a lot of things. I like to keep a very minimal wardrobe of pieces I only truly wear. This is something that makes me happy. So on the bag front? I already have plenty of beautiful bags to carry, and I barely have room for them as it is. The stress of trying to squeeze in another one would actually negate the thrill of a new bag. Being Clara means staying true to only acquiring material goods that actually deliver joy.

Make My Goals Mine: Towards the end of last year, I noticed a significant a pull towards others goals- goals that deep down, weren’t mine. But in the moment, they didn’t seem like other’s goals. The gluten free thing is a good example. It’s one of those “everyone’s doing it so shouldn’t I do it too?” type goals. The same thing can happen with blogging.  “She’s blogging everyday so shouldn’t I make that my goal, too?” It’s really easy to lose sight of what you yourself want, when you let those feelings creep in. Know what I mean? So in effort to not let those feelings blurry my vision this year, I’m working on getting really clear about MY goals, Clara’s goals, from the get-go. It already feels oh so refreshing.

Do you ever struggle with simply being you? Can what other’s are doing and achieving and consuming cause you to lose track? I’d so love to hear your thoughts! We could all use the help. xx

  1. I totally and completely agree with you on each of these, but the one that hit home for me was the material possessions. I’m like you and like to keep a minimalist wardrobe, but it’s so easy, after seeing something over and over again, to think that you need it and it will make you happier! I also have a bit of a dishes/kitchen things problem with being a food blogger so this year I’m implementing the same mindset as with my wardrobe : )

  2. Amy

    This really rang true to me, especially the part about other people’s goals. I’m in the process of sorting out my next career move, and am at a loss. It’s hard for me to sort out the things that I’m attracted to, the things I’m good at, and the things that will truly fulfill me. It’s tougher this year for some reason. Thanks for sharing this, It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling with this idea.

  3. Clara, you hit the nail on the head with this one! It is so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and think that it should be on your radar too. I drove myself a bit crazy trying to keep up with the other bloggers in my circle last year- going to events, posting incessantly, and being connected 24/7. Trying to find a healthy balance for me this year!

  4. You have such an authentic voice to your writing. It’s always so uplifting! Great goals. I love the mantra of “Be Clara” or “Be Madison” etc. It’s a great way to be authentic to who you really are!

  5. I feel like I have been writing about this topic for the past 3 months. This is something that I am working on very hard. (I even wrote about this yesterday a bit too.) You are not alone, girlie! xo

  6. I’m loving your posts lately! Everything is really hitting a cord with me. I think my new mantra for 2014 needs to be “Be Amanda”. It has a nice ring to it. :)

  7. Sandy

    Wonderful post, Clara! I can learn from you!

  8. I love this! I am totally guilty of these same things - especially with food! I was vegan for so long, and lately I have been feeling so much better on a vegetarian diet with a little diary and eggs. But I had CONVINCED myself that vegan was a thing I should do, I should have some type of extreme diet. Definitely feel you on the handbag/possession thing too. Wonderful post!

  9. Clara, another great post as usual. I had a major “a-ha” moment while reading this post in that I have a bad habit of trying to replicate what I see others doing and thinking if I do that I’ll be happy! Thank you for bringing that to light with your post.

  10. La Torontoise

    Clara, reading this post triggers my reflective nature… It resonates so much with me, as in many other cases.
    Adapting and adopting good practices of other people is a major source of learning and improving our lifes.
    In my professional field, it’s part of the job to be almost every day on the hunt for good practices. It”s all right to use this habit in your private life and that’s how it could very easily happen that we serve other’s goals and forget our true self. To avoid the trap, I’m making now the habit to first try to clearly see at my own context; would the new thing fit there and how? and what’s the level of committment that the new thing would require from me? Can I make the commitment at this time, or I would have to say ‘no’to other things that I love to do?
    So, my 2014 mantra is ‘Think Context’. Which is in essence, ‘think my own goals’.

  11. Very honest post - love that you put it all out there! I have that book on my nightstand and need to start it; I know so many amazing women who read it and changed their perspectives on life. I am a firm believer that we all can make a few tweaks here and there. For instance when I turned 30, I decided I wanted to live a minimalist live, and that I only wanted no more then 10 boxes in storage to make it easy to move or live anywhere. I am constantly purging and getting rid of things that only add clutter to our lives, and only keep what makes us really happy and things that we use. So liberating!

  12. Great post! Thank you for the reminder. I struggle with these same issues.
    I’m with you in 2014.

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