My year of happy

While I was thinking about my year ahead, I decided to re-read some of my favourite books this year.

One of those is Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, especially because she’s releasing a new book just on The Four Tendencies (I can’t wait!) later this year.

I started listening on Monday, my first day back to work this year, and it’s been (dare I say?) even better listening the second time around.

Maybe it’s because I’m a super big fan of the podcast which started after I first listened to the book?

Anyway, in the book, she mentions The Happiness Project and how she focussed on 12 different projects over that year.

And that’s when I had my bright idea.


I’m going to do my own version of a Happiness Project. My Year of Happy!

Basically, I’m going to focus on 10 different areas in my life, 1 for the months February – November. January is for thinking it all through and December is for relaxing and wrapping up the year ๐Ÿ™‚

My areas are health, finances, holidays, friends, kids, husband, house projects – decor,ย  house projects – decluttering, faith/ God and fun – reading, photos, crafts. I probably have 2 – 3 things I want to do for each area and that’s plenty.

Also, when I get x and y done, they’re done! Which is so satisfying to me, especially because for many years I’ve had ongoing goals on my list so 3 of this per month, or 2 of that per month, or doing project x every month. I think I’ll have a mix of recurring goals and once-off.

Does a happiness project sound like fun to you?

If yes, great stuff. We can post pics of our little projects on Instagram ๐Ÿ™‚ and if you’re an Upholder like me, you’ll have no trouble at all planning out your year and making your year happy as you do your projects. If you’re a Rebel, you’ll do a project only if you want, and on your terms.

But for the Obligers and the Questioners, those that need a bit more accountability, I’m holding a Year of Happy accountability group.

How it will work

You decide on your own 10 projects – one for each month Feb to Nov – or fewer if you want to repeat some categories. It’s your life; you choose. You know what your life is like so you can choose easy things in your busier months so that this is not something stressful.

Your projects will be different to the next person’s. There is no one size fits all.


We kick off on Goals Night, 31 January.

We will use Skype audio or IMO (if the video doesn’t have too much lag).

We will have monthly group coaching/ accountability calls every month. Sometimes I’ll also do some live teaching/ workshopping (like on bullet journalling) but not every month since I don’t want people to feel frustrated that they’re not being heard. We will give feedback and set our intentions for the month ahead.

At the mid-point of each month, I will have some “open office time” for 5-minute calls. This is specifically so if you want to chat/ brainstorm very specifically outside of the group.

In between you work on your own stuff by yourself.

Then we wrap the 2017 year of happy on 30 November, rejoicing in a year well-intentioned and well-spent.

The best thing about all of this is you remain in the comfort of your own home, in your pyjamas, make-up free, while getting the support and encouragement to go make yourself happy.

How much

Only $25 per month or R345 at today’s exchange rate. I was aiming at R350. If this is something that you really want but that amount doesn’t work for you, then you can pay what you can. It’s my year of give and you get to benefit ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s no commitment to stay for the full year – stop whenever you want.

Are you interested? Email me and we’ll take it from there.

Really easy goal-setting

The thing with life (and with goals) is that you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like.

I try to not overcomplicate things so this system is, hands down, the easiest way to set goals for the year.

Have a notebook and pen handy, some quiet space and a nice cup of tea.

  1. Think back over the year thatโ€™s been and write down what went well and what didnโ€™t. This could take up to an hour or longer, depending on how the year went.
  2. Then look forward and think about what you want for the year ahead. I like to really spend time getting clear on my vision, fleshing it out fully. This is also when I think about my ONE word for the year.
  3. Take a goals form (you can also use a notebook) and in each of the areas of your life, like Family, Health, Spiritual, Business, I write down 1 โ€“ 3 broad goals. My free Let’s Do This guide works well too.
  4. Now check each of those goals and make sure they align with your One Word or theme and more importantly, that youโ€™re excited by them and that they feel authentic with who you are. E.g. One of my values is balance so if I have too many goals, I start to feel out of control and therefore, inauthentic with who I am. So if this happens, I go back to the drawing board to simplify some more.
  5. Make sure that your goals are within your control. E.g. with my business, I can only control my actions. Yes, I do set the intention to have x clients bringing in y money but the things I can control is how much marketing to do, in which ways, how often, etc. I canโ€™t actually control the clientsโ€™ behavior. Does this make sense?
  6. Then choose 3 – 4 goals to work on for the first 90 days, schedule the work and get to it.
  7. A suggestion is to add one or two quick wins to get started so that when you achieve those goals, youโ€™re motivated to persevere with the harder ones.

Thatโ€™s it. Easy as that, your system is set up. Now you just need to schedule your goals and work your system.

Have you set any goals for 2017 yet?

If not, let this be inspiration for your weekend organising project. It’s never too late ๐Ÿ™‚

Organising Queen’s recap of 2016

Ah, how I love this time of year – a time to recap the past year but also to set goals and intentions for the year ahead.

I do a truly extensive recap each and every year.

I use my own Let’s Do This guide, Susannah Conway‘s Unravelling the year workbook, the shining year life workbook and this year, just because it was there, I also added the Holstee reflection workbook.

And I check my spreadsheets, Fitbit stats, etc.

Dion asked me why I go through all this hassle and I said because I feel like I can close off the old year only when I’ve taken stock thoroughly.

Then it’s really easy to set goals and start the new year in a positive frame of mind, leaving the past in the past and looking toward the new year with hope.

Biggest (unexpected) change

Buying and selling a house. It was unplanned but a blessing nonetheless. I remembered anew how much I hate packing and unpacking. On the bright side, there’s been a lot of little corners and spaces to organise ๐Ÿ™‚ And the view has kept me focussed throughout.


We had a good year. Kids did well in school and adjusted to Grade 1 really well. We also had no problems with them adjusting to the new house except for a few “I hear strange sounds” within the first week or two.

We managed to take two holidays – yay!

Fitness and health

I only lost about a kilo this year but I have consistently attended my Zumba class on a Saturday morning and I feel fitter than I did this time last year. I did two Spanish exams which took a bit of a toll on my ankles but I made it. I reached my goal of 52 photowalks on the 29th Dec (shew!) but best of all, I maintained an average of 7 hours 32 minutes sleep in 2016. I’m a night owl so it takes concerted effort for me to prioritise sleep over getting things done ๐Ÿ™‚

I did have a numb toe for about 2 months of the year which was really frustrating and scary too. I hope this winter doesn’t catalyse it again.


The photowalks goal mentioned above was both for fitness and fun. I made sure I took a photo on each walk, whether with the iphone or my Canon. I didn’t post them all but you can have a look at about half of them here. For the record, I’m not setting myself a goal like this for 2017.

I read a ton this year. In fact, 97 books –ย  it is the highest number of books I’ve read as an adult in a single year so yay me. I can (again!) give a big shout-out to Audible for 14 of those books and 3 of my top. My goal was 70.

I had 4 crafternoons this year – afternoons with friends while crafting and chatting.


Shocking. The money flew all around what with the house purchase and sale, and payments to lawyers, City of Joburg, handymen, plumbers and electricians.

On the bright side, it has all worked out okay but I really don’t like all this unbridled spending on (super) boring things.

Once the transaction is finalised on our old house in about 1 – 2 weeks, I will do a proper recon so we can move forward.

And that’s my recap!

I’d give 2016 a 7 out of 10, largely due to the house stress.

How was your 2016 on a scale of 1 – 10, and why?

Read more about the power of the annual review here.

My diary/ planner for 2017


So you all know I’m a big fan of the Shining Year planners.

I pre-ordered the diary this year too and it arrived just before Christmas. (if you’re ordering and you’re in South Africa, buy the digital version!)

It is gorgeous and colourful, and has nice, thick, non-bleedy paper for my Pentel gel pens. It also has some good goals pages before and after each month. As you know I do a Goals Night on the last night of each month and this will really help me to simplify my monthly goals review process.

There is only one thing “wrong” with it.

It’s huge. It’s more than double the thickness of last year’s diary and about 5 cm longer.

I can’t see myself carrying this diary to and from work daily, as I’m accustomed to doing with my yearly diaries.

I actually took it to church on New Year’s Day to test it out on a short trip and my shoulder was falling off.

So I know I won’t be able to carry it around on a daily basis.

I’m not going to buy another diary largely because everything is so big this year (Confession – I’ve looked). The 2017 version of the style I used in 2016 has awful covers and while I love the insides, I can’t bring myself to see those covers daily.

If you’ve read my post about choosing the perfect diary/ planner, you’ll remember I always say you’ve got to have something you want to use and that will inspire you to actually use it.

Do I just bullet journal on a daily basis while out and about, and keep my Shining Planner at home to update as and when?

What do all these people with the ginormous planners do? Do they leave them at home? Do they cart them around?

Also, if I had even the slightest bit of design skills, I’d just make my own darn planner. Because nobody makes exactly the one I want. Legami is the closest but I don’t think Exclusives got them in this year ๐Ÿ™

What do you think I should do? What would you do?

2016 Word of the Year recap (joy) and my word for 2017!

Before I dive into this year’s word and the whys and wherefores thereof, I want to do a recap of my 2016 word, joy.

I’ll admit that it wasn’t one of my favourite words ever but it did what it was meant to do, which was to encourage me to live a little and also to choose joy when circumstances were not very joyful.

1. I know this will come as a surprise but I actually find it hard to relax. I’m much more comfortable on the work side of the scale ๐Ÿ™‚ Which is exactly why I put “read book” or “play with photos” on my to-do lists.

2. And then it’s always a good thing to realise that you always have a choice, even in the midst of hard situations, and for me, to choose joy in those circumstances.

3. I had a third leg which was to watch for the things that would steal my joy if not attended to promptly, things like doing my photo organising and backup on a monthly basis, doing my budgets regularly, putting in my expense claims. Basically, things that are not a big deal at all, but when left unattended can become a real schlep.

In that respect, I had a great year.

I did feel, around Sept or so, that I was done with that word and maybe I needed to choose another one.

But then a print from a friend arrived as a housewarming gift (I think?) with the words Choose Joy, and so I took that as a sign and ploughed on.

The word joy really helped me prioritise reading over social media, sleep over blogging (for like 30 people to see – my page views have been shocking this year!) and at work, when I’d get frustrated, I’d set up a meeting because I always prefer meeting in-person instead of exchanging hours of emails.

So thank you to the word joy for serving me well in 2016.

Now onto 2017.

Some years (like the year of enough) I agonise over the word and really have to pray and listen hard for my word.

Other years it just pops into my mind, feels right and there’s not a shadow of doubt.

That’s what it was this year when I received my word give early in December.

I tried it on for size and really liked it so give it is.

1. One day I was at the smoothie place in the gym behind a couple. They were battling to pay for their things because the machine wouldn’t accept their American card. So I paid for them. I’m not usually this kind of person but I loved that I could do that for them and best of all, they were so appreciative. Hope their visit to South Africa was made even brighter ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Of course I donated some money to the Aleppo refugee efforts and it felt really good to give instead of feeling powerless.

3. Another day I was at a clothing store. I had a gift card to spend from something I returned without a cash receipt, and it turned out that there was some money left. So I told the cashier to keep the card and to use the balance on my card for the very next person who came to pay for their things. She loved it, I loved it and I’m sure the person would have loved it too. I somehow feel like it wasn’t even about the recipient but about the cashier ๐Ÿ™‚

To that end, I think I may host a few one-week GIVE challenges ๐Ÿ™‚

How I want to explore the word give this year:

  1. What do I want to or need to give to God this year?
  2. How can I give better to my family in terms of my time and energy?
  3. Where do I want to give to my relationships?
  4. How can I give to myself more in terms of my finances? (by not spending frivolously, saving more, and using my gifts to make some money)
  5. What does my body need and how can I give it the best fuel/ exercise it needs?
  6. And so on…..

Now, over to you!

I’m going to ask you a question I heard from Ali Edwards on EliseJoy’s podcast.

Which direction do you want your life to go in this year? Which word will help guide and keep you focussed in the right direction to do so?

Don’t overthink it. Tell me your word for 2017.

PS Book a half hour session with me to get clear on your word and your purpose/ goals/ intentions for 2017.

PPS Words from previous years

2016 – Joy

2015 – enough

2014 – shine

2013 – trust

2012 – create (my favourite year of choosing words!)

2011 – courage

2010 – consolidate

2009 – simplify

And… everybody gets planning and calendaring freebies!

Hi friends

I have three things to tell you about:

1. If you haven’t yet downloaded your Let’s Do This guide for 2017 (a super simple way to close off 2016 and start 2017 on the right foot), you can get your free copy here.

2. Then, I made an intentional calendar for 2017.

Pages: 1 2

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

Friends and readers, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Thanks for reading, commenting, “liking” on Facebook and Instagram and messaging or emailing me. I appreciate all the connection.

Let’s do more of it next year.

And after Christmas, it’s my favourite week of the whole year! Join me on Instagram as I post daily on my review/ recap of 2016.

Are you on Instagram?

Organising Queen’s best books of 2016

2016’s not over yet but unless something radically changes, these were my top books:


Stories I only tell my friends – Rob Lowe

I listened to the audible version of this book and I recommend you get that version because he narrates his own book and does all the different impersonations too. Even just for that alone, it’s a great listen. But he’s actually a really good writer too, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the listening time.

Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money – Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

I wrote a bit about the book here but I can say this – if you have a child and you want said child to have a good relationship with money, just get the book. You won’t be sorry. Matter of fact, I think many adults need to hear/ listen to many of these truths.

I listened to the book on audible, but it would be just as easy to read a paper or Kindle copy.


When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

This book won Goodreads’ 2016 choice award in the memoir/ autobiography category with good reason.

It is a beautifully written account of a journey through a lung cancer diagnosis and ultimately death, and I enjoyed listening to it. For Cup of Jo fans, the author was her twin sister’s late husband.

I think everyone should read or listen to this book. Treat yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

And then some fiction

I really enjoyed these ones by authors you may not know (I didn’t know most of them) but give them a chance. You can always download the Kindle sample and see if you like the writing first.

The Marriage Mender – Linda Green

While my eyes were closed – Linda Green (this one is only $2 on Kindle)

Tomorrow there will be apricots – Jessica Soffer

The week I ruined my life – Caroline Grace-Kennedy (unputdownable)

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty. I’m starting a bookclub in Johannesburg next year – first meeting end of January – and this is our first book.

For those who are budget-conscious (like I am!), I get my books 3 ways:

  1. Audible membership which I put on pause for three months a year to catch up.
  2. Kindle (but my rule still applies – it has to be under $10. I do put books on my wish list and Amazon lets me know when they go on sale)
  3. Library – a little-known fact for South Africans…. take a list of all the titles you want to read to your nearest library and ask the librarian to check if they are in circulation. You then reserve them and pay only R12 (for my municipality) when they arrive. I’d got lazy to take a list of books but I did so this weekend and reserved two. The minute the current lenders return them, they’re flagged on the system and will be dispatched to my local branch.

What were your favourite reads in 2016?

Share in the comments!

PS I posted the Rob Lowe book on Instagram and I’m so grateful to a commenter for telling me to get Andre Agassi’s one too. I’d had it on my wish list forever but wasn’t sure. Her recommendation pushed me over the edge ๐Ÿ™‚ So please please do feel free to tell me your favourites.

Some clever gift ideas in case you’re stuck…

There’s one week left til Christmas!


If you’re still shopping or thinking about gifts, here are some ideas for you:

Give according to their love language

If you have someone with a quality time love language, for example, give them the gift of time with you – tea/ coffee/ cake/ lunch/ supper at a restaurant, or a game of adventure golf, a manicure, etc.

If your special someone has gifts or acts of service as their love language, take the time to think about presentation. A gift bag (can be recycled)ย or nicely-wrapped present with a gift tag is a must ๐Ÿ™‚

Give according to their interests

What is the person’s hobby? if it’s reading, give a book and a bookmark, or a gift voucher to Amazon or Audible.

For your soccer-loving kids, maybe a soccer ball or a soccer-themed annual.


Give something to help with a problem they have

…but be careful ๐Ÿ˜‰

If your friend always says they can’t find their keys/ rings, etc., maybe a nice trinket bowl they can use in their entry way.

I’ve shared before how once a man phoned me to buy organising services for his wife, which I declined to sell him. That’s not going to win him any points. The wife herself contacted me about a year later and we worked together but the point was that she had to be ready for the help.

A voucher is a good idea if done thoughtfully

A gift voucher is better if paired with something really small. This way it looks like you actually took the time to understand your recipient.

I’ve given vouchers to homeware stores for foodies with a set of cloth serviettes. I’ve also given a mug with a tea bag and the gift voucher inside. The tag on the tea bag read something like this – enjoy a cup of tea while you decide what to buy for your new home.


Give gifts that go together

I like to give babies’ gifts as sets – for example, a blanket and a teddy for bedtime, or a book and a blanket for snuggling and reading.

One of my favourite gifts of all time was a set of Christmas mugs and a packet of shortbread biscuits. We ate the biscuits that year and we are still using the mugs 7 – 8 years later.

What are some of your favourite gifts to give?

PS I’ve given gifts of music in the past and presently too, but I’ve since discovered that recipients have to belong to the same country’s iTunes store. So it’s been hit and miss, (and you don’t get your money back unless the recipient tells you they can’t access and you log a call for a refund) so this year I only gifted CDs to fellow South Africans with iphones.

Your end-of-year reality check


About a week before the end of November, I put an item on my to-do list: schedule all socials til the end of the year.

And then I made a list.

Well, the list had about 10 friends or sets of friends on it, and when I looked at the available dates, it was going to be impossible.

However, I never let a small thing like a full schedule get me down and I started working my list until I realised…

it’s my own self-imposed idea that I have to see people this year and not next year

Granted, it would be nice if everything was all neat and ordered, but it would cause me a bit of stress fitting everything in and probably be less joyful.

So right now, I’m playing with the idea of a very loose year ๐Ÿ™‚


This whole process reminded me ofย  organising.

We have these TV/ blog/ Instagram/ Pinterest-like visions of what our organised homes should look like, complete with state-of-the-art organising systems, the most beautiful containers and worthy to appear on a TV show.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and dreaming big, but when we become paralysed and not motivated by the dream, there’s something wrong.

The thing is that those visions of perfection often leave us demotivated and uninspired to even start as you think, “what’s the point? I could never have it look like that”.

The point of inspiring blogs and Instagram feeds are to give us ideas, and not to make us feel bad about what we donโ€™t have or to sow discontent in our lives.

Why not rather look at your home realistically?

See what you can and are able to do and take it from there. Use what you have in the time you have available and just do the best with that.


Read that paragraph again…

Here are some action steps for your organising reality list:

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down the rooms in your home that need some work. Leave space under each room heading.
  2. Now walk around your house and make a list under each heading of what you want to do. For example, in the study/ home office, * tidy desk * do filing *put photos in photo albums/ frames, etc.
  3. If you want to do something this year, pick 1 – 2 small spaces and do those. Otherwise, start in the new year. Remember, there’s no rule that says you had to have done X in your house this year. If you’ve done less than you intented, forgive yourself if you’re feeling guilty and just tell yourself 2017 is a new year.

Did you have a list for this year?

How did you do?

PS I had a list for our old house which we stopped working on when we put in the offer on this house. I do have a long list for this house too ๐Ÿ˜‰

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