Making my work work: April’s Happiness Project theme

Any keen eyed readers amongst you may have noticed this post is coming out slightly later in the week than usual. I’ve been finding this month’s Happiness Project theme and its resolutions tricky to nail down. I was excited about having a month focusing on my work, but I also didn’t know where to start. On the one hand there are a bunch of very practical resolutions I could have gone with. Stuff like time-management systems; prioritisation; and goal setting. But when I really thought about it I realised what I wanted to examine was the essence of my work and what meaningful work means to me.

So, my month of making my work work is about figuring out what meaningful work is for me. Asking how can my work can fit into living what Brené Brown calls a wholehearted life.

"“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it” Howard Thurman

April’s Happiness Project resolutions

Challenge the gremlins

In The Gifts of Imperfection Brené Brown says:

“The gauntlet of gremlins can get in the way of cultivating meaningful work”.

These gremlins, she says, feed off the supposed to elements of our life. For this resolution I’m going to start with these provocations from Brené: “What makes us afraid? What’s on your ‘supposed to’ list? Who says? Why?”

Effort where it really matters

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing busy work. This is the kind of tasks that make us feel busy, and provide a sense of achievement by doing them, but aren’t the important things that are going to make a difference. I suspect I tend to keep myself busy with the little things out of fear of tackling the things that really matter to me. So I’m going to pay attention to where my effort is going, and see how I can perhaps change the balance.

Create my definition

I’ve said before that I identify as a multipotentialite. You’re probably sick of me mentioning this without really explaining it. Never fear – this month is going to be so full of multipotentialite based posts you could write an essay on the subject by the end. To get an idea though, watch Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling. My inspiration for this resolution comes from this passage of The Gifts of Imperfection. I’m going to quote it in full because it perfectly sums up where this resolution comes from:


“Another thing that gets in the way of meaningful work is the struggle to define who we are and what we do in an honest way. In a world that values the primacy of work, the most common question that we ask and get asked it, “What do you do?”. I used to wince every time someone asked me this question. I felt like my choices were to reduce myself to an easily digestible sound bite or to confuse the hell out of people.

Now my answer to “What do you do?” is , “How much time do you have?”

I want to figure out how I answer that question, not for anyone else but for me. How do I define the work I do?


I want to take time each day to evaluate the work I’ve done. To consider how it made me feel, and whether it felt like busy work or truly meaningful. Practical stuff comes into this one a bit too, I could consider my time management and prioritisation if I want. I’m going to give myself 10 minutes each day to do this and, in theory, this should make working on my earlier resolutions easier.

Freelance Financial Goal

Okay, so one little practical resolution snuck in. This is kind of a leftover from my February theme of finances. I want to set myself a goal income to have made from freelance work this year.

So that’s it. These are my Happiness Project resolutions for April. I want to end with this quote that’ also inspired this month. I think it sums up pretty much what it’s all about, and really what this whole Happiness Project is about.

“Embrace your inner wiring, whatever that may be” Emilie Wapnick

Thanks for reading. What do you think of April’s resolutions? How do you find meaningful work? Let me know in the comments below. 

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  • Hello Ellen
    I am enjoying reading your blog. I am a HUGE Happiness Project fan and have begun my own project, albeit in fits and starts. 🙂
    Your resolution to identify as a multipotentialite resonated strongly with me. A proverb with which I identify is, ‘The calling that has sounded will not be the lasting call…’.
    I found your reflection strangely soothing.
    I look forward to your next post.

    • Hi Lori, Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m so pleased you’re enjoying the blog. I’m really enjoying writing it, and am finding it a great way to keep track of my Happiness Project and the effects its having on my life. Really exciting that you’re doing your own Happiness Project too – fits and starts is totally fine I think. It’s your project, so maybe fits and starts is the right rhythm for you to do it in 🙂

      That’s a really interesting proverb, thanks for sharing. I’ve not heard that one before. Do you know where it originates from?