Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

My Pursuit of Happiness II

Working some more this morning on the idea of a Happiness Framework.

Not surprisingly, I think elements will borrow from trusted systems already referenced within Just Seven Things, and in the Blogroll. The first element:


A first element will be a hybrid between David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) accountability review (the use of an aircraft runway/ flight path analogy sticks powerfully) and Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog approach to identifying the biggest, ugliest frogs and dealing with them first.

A feeling of control is hugely important to feeling happy. Using David Allen’s accountability review (and of course numerous other personal management systems have the same principle), at any point in time the objective is to be able to go to a couple of sheets of paper, and review the areas you have accountability or responsibility for in your work and life. The defining principle for inclusion in this review is whether the accountability requires you to undertake actions to fulfill your obligations.

In a number of cases, the projects (again, in GTD terms, projects are related multiple tasks or actions required to achieve an outcome) that you have on your to do list – when correctly grouped/ categorised/ mapped – reflect your accountabilities and responsibilities.

The feeling of relaxed power that this gives when it works (and it works when you have all of your accountabilities truly covered) is immense. I find a knot relaxes in my stomach.

Listing each of the projects under your accountabilities gives you a map of what you need to achieve to fulfill your obligations. In Daniel Nettle’s great book ‘Happiness, The Science behind your Smile’  he discusses interesting evidence that suggests higher income individuals are happier. And that this happiness is substantially derived from their ability to be in more control of their lives.

The ugly frog aspect of the control element of my draft Happiness Framework is to take each of the areas of accountability (and the projects hooked to them) and then make these projects real. Spend five minutes on each thinking about what you need to do. The thing that immediately seems hard/ causes you to have a sinking sensation/ a brain freeze is the big frog. It’s the first step blocker to you achieving your project outcome/ fulfilling the obligation of that accountability.

I find I end up with an immediate two or three things per project that I know I need to do as very next actions/ unblockers/ frog eating.

So you end up after a first exercise with a map of accountabilities and what you need to do as your first steps to fulfilling your obligations.

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2 thoughts on “My Pursuit of Happiness II

  1. For implementing GTD you might try out this new web-based application:


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version is available too.

    Hope you like it.

  2. Many thanks Dan. I’ve been using the Getting Things Done Outlook add-in for about 18 months now and love it: http://gtdsupport.netcentrics.com/home/

    It will be interesting to see how GTD Agenda compares


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