Planning a Happy Life

A conversation with Stephanie Fleming, creator of The Happy Planner
October 26, 2020 Updated: October 26, 2020

Many of us find using a planner helps to keep our appointments in check, our to-do lists handy, and our goals front and center. But can using a planner make you happy? 

I asked Stephanie Fleming, co-founder of Me & My Big Ideas, the parent company of The Happy Planner, about her company’s journey and the unexpected value of using a planner. Here’s what she said.

The Epoch Times: What inspired you to start your company Me & My Big Ideas?

Stephanie Fleming main promo
Stephanie Fleming, co-founder of Me & My Big Ideas, the parent company of The Happy Planner. (Courtesy of The Happy Planner)

Stephanie Fleming: I call myself an accidental entrepreneur because the driving force behind starting our company, for me, was to pay the bills. I was working 11 hours a day as a child care provider and was not making enough money to make ends meet. My credit cards were maxed out, I was behind on the mortgage, and I was depressed. When my mom and I had the idea to create stickers for the scrapbooking industry in 1998, I was raring to go and willing to put in the time and hard work required to chase our dream of this cool new product we envisioned but also my dream of a better life for my family.

The Epoch Times: Most people think of a planner as a tool to stay organized and on top of their schedule. What are some other benefits of using a planner?

Ms. Fleming: Using a planner to organize your life by keeping track of your appointments and tasks is a given, but there are other significant benefits of using a planner. For instance, when you are more organized and productive, there is more time in your life for the things you want to do. Planning is an effective way to make room in your schedule for the things that make you happy.  

The Epoch Times: Your Happy Planner products are cheerful and encouraging. How can using a planner bring more joy and meaning to life?

Ms. Fleming: When we don’t control our to-do list, it controls us and steals our joy. Using a planner helps us take back that control. The Happy Planner takes it a step further and incorporates colors and inspiring messages to maintain a positive mindset. The creative accessories and stickers that you can add make the mundane job of scheduling our tasks fun!

The Epoch Times: With so much uncertainty in the world today, planning can get tricky. Have you found yourself using your planner differently during this unusual time?

Ms. Fleming: Definitely! These days, we are inundated with fear, uncertainty, anger, boredom, sadness, and other challenging emotions. Through planning and journaling, I have learned to identify and focus on the things I can control. The rest? I don’t spend much time worrying about those. Knowing where to give my time and attention is empowering. My planner has become less about “getting stuff done” and more about making time for joy.

The Epoch Times: Do you recommend that parents encourage their kids to use a planner? If so, how?

Ms. Fleming: Yes, yes, and yes! There are so many skills that kids can learn from using a planner from a young age. Time management, goal setting, and prioritizing the “must-do’s” to make room for the “want-to-do’s” help eliminate the anxiety that comes from feeling overwhelmed. Let’s face it, kids these days are like busy little adults without the coping skills to handle the stress. The simple act of writing down all the things you need to do in one place, prioritizing those action items, and then adding them to a daily planner is a habit worth cultivating. 

The Epoch Times: Your company’s motto is “Plan a Happy Life.” What do you believe are the keys to planning a happy life?

Ms. Fleming: Over the years, I have noticed that each time I have experienced great joy or success, the same four practices were present. I call them the 4 P’s, and they are my formula for a happy life. Here is a quick breakdown:  

Purpose plus Planning plus Positivity plus Persistence equals A Happy Life.

PAHL_Lifestyle_011
The Happy Planner’s range of products include a guided journal, planner, stickers, and dry erase board. (Courtesy of The Happy Planner)

 We must first define our purpose. Whether it’s for a project, or a goal you set, or the general direction of your life, defining your why or your purpose gives you a north star to follow and keeps you headed in the right direction.

The second step is developing a plan to help you fulfill your purpose. Setting goals, keeping a planner, and creating an efficient workflow are all part of an effective planning practice.

 A positive mindset is a powerful thing! It doesn’t make the difficulties of life disappear, but it does help you navigate those challenges and more fully experience joy.

Just keep going! Persistence helps develop a resilient spirit. It enables you to get back up when you fall down. You’ll find success when you master persistence, not perfection.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza