My Five “Nice to Haves” For Personal Happiness

by Rachael on May 26, 2013 · 10 comments


In life, there are things we have to do – feed ourselves, go to work, keep the house in some kind of order, etc. I’m talking about the bare minimum, basic stuff you have to do in order to keep your head above water in this game called life.

Our days are filled with chores and tasks like these. All the things on your To Do list that are seemingly non-negotiable – the Must Haves in order to carry on as a functioning member of society.

But then there’s another list; at least for me – a list of things that make me feel really good when I manage to fit one (or more) of them into my day. They’re not anything that anyone else would notice if they didn’t get done. They’re my Nice to Haves.

They might be viewed as “extras” – activities that aren’t a #1 priority; that only get done when you magically find extra time in your day. And when was the last time that happend to you? I’ll take “Never” for a thousand, Alex.

What with recently entering startup life, these lovely Nice to Haves have fallen even farther down (completely off?) my To Do list. And it’s making me sad. I feel lethargic and unaccomplished when it comes to my personal life. And I was expecting some of that in the beginning, of course. But it’s time to re-prioritize and reclaim some of that balance… before I go batshit insane.

My big five, the five things that make me feel so good but always seem to get pushed to the side because they aren’t basic needs, are:






Write Create. I feel so much better when I’m writing regularly. I do write a lot at work (and I love it), but of course it’s not the same as writing for pleasure. Writing is cathartic; it helps me to organize my thoughts, it feels good to exercise my own voice instead of the company’s, and of course I always love feedback from the blogosphere. It sounds silly but I feel a little proud of myself when I hit publish on a post. (I just changed this to “Create” because I get this same feeling from cooking or a craft project. So really, just making something – whether it’s dinner, a throw pillow, or a blog post.)

Sweat. Obviously. Don’t we all feel better when we’re exercising? I am trying so hard to end my pattern of “two months on, four months off” the work out wagon, but life just keeps getting in the way. No excuses, though – when I exercise, it sets up my whole day to be a win. I’m more productive, I make better choices, I have more confidence, which impacts every single interaction I have that day. So isn’t it worth finding that extra half an hour in the morning, no matter the cost?

Connect. This involves any kind of activity that helps to build or strengthen my networks. It might be meeting new friends at a happy hour, networking at an industry event, or helping someone out with advice, introductions or ideas (an up-and-comer I’m mentoring, a professional contact, a friend of a friend, a stranger who reached out…) Each of these actions are rewarding either by growing my network or by karmically paying it forward (which we all know 1. feels fantastic and 2. comes back to you tenfold in the end).

Love. LOVE means cultivating and caring for the relationships of those closest to me. Taking time to do something extra sweet for Shawn, calling a best friend to check in on their new project, making sure I talk to the family every few days. Admittedly, I’m not the best at this – I may send you a present in July just because I saw it and thought of you, but completely forget about your birthday unless Facebook happens to remind me – but I’m at the point where I know who the people are that I want in my life forever, and I’m striving to make sure I keep those bonds as strong as I can, no matter how busy I get.

Me. Those little things that make me feel like a million bucks. Getting a mani/pedi, a nice dinner out with the man, a wine-filled girls’ night, reading an actual book (really, reading anything besides industry-related articles), even an Arrested Development viewing marathon (FINALLY!!!!!) Basically, granting myself the freedom to do things I love purely for the pleasure, without feeling guilty about it. Lately, every time I take an hour to do something that isn’t for work or the house or someone else, I feel this nagging that it’s not worth doing, that I should only spend time on tasks that will provide value to my job or to someone else. I need to remember that it’s okay to do things that make ME, and no one else, happy – for no other reason than simply because it does.

So those are my big five (what are yours?? You knew I was going to ask).

I hereby vow to squeeze at least ONE in per day, even though they’re Nice to Haves and not Must Haves, because they make me happy, and I deserve that. They make me feel good about myself, my relationships, my productivity and my quality of life, and what on earth could be more important that all of that?



1 KezUnprepared May 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I love your five! They sound just like mine. I call my 5, mental health essentials though :P
I think I’d also add quality sleep to the list and leaving the house at least every second day for the sake of my 18 month old Little Mister. Keeps me sane knowing he’s being kept sane. It’s good to get out and make sure we’re not stir crazy.
Great post!

2 Rachael May 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

YES! Sleep is *huge*. And I can never get enough of it. I definitely hear you on getting out of the house as a mama – I’m sure that would drive a person (or a toddler) nuts!

3 spleeness May 27, 2013 at 8:42 am

Spot on! Imagine if our days had time for ALL of these. Mine are the same except that it feels like time to create/love/connect are musts.

(Your post also reminded me of this author who says happiness requires investment into all four realms of our being: physical/emotional/intellectual/spiritual: )

4 Rachael May 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Oh, I love that post. So well said! And yes, I definitely wish I could fit in more than one of these every day. That’ll be my next goal. ;)

5 Gretchen May 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm

This is great. And it’s always such a nice surprise to see a new post from you. WE LOVE WHEN YOU CREATE.


6 Rachael May 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Awww, thanks lady. <3

7 Jenna @ Keep Caffeinated & Carry On May 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm

LOVE this list – I’ve definitely been thinking a lot this year about the “nice to haves,” particularly the “me time” part. I think we take on too many things and forget that its okay to say no and take a time out. And love the quote from the First Lady!

8 Rachael May 29, 2013 at 10:57 am

Michelle always knows what to say.


9 Margarita July 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I love this list, and I enjoyed the quote from your First Lady. I don’t know much about the Obama’s (I’m Canadian), but I know she’s fabulous and always in magazines and such, but she seems very smart as well.

It is HARD to provide yourself with so much care when you’re doing so much for others, but it’s a good reminder to do so. Perhaps I should make an alarm on my phone, everyday choose one thing to do… hmmmm….

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