How Do You Want to Feel?

Posted by Kelley Bren Burke on

How do you want to feel? A new blog in which I reluctantly talk about my feelings.

How Do You Want to Feel?

This question keeps popping up in my life. First, author Danielle LaPorte asked the question in her book The Fire Starter Sessions. It's also the first question that author Christine Carter asks in her free eCourse on changing habits. They both advise starting with how you want to feel, and planning from there. As a thinker, all this talk about feelings is foreign territory for me. But I can see the wisdom of it, so I’m playing along. 

Danielle LaPorte refers to these feelings as Core Desired Feelings. She writes, “What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel within ourselves, and then we designed our to-do lists? Getting clear on how you want to feel -- and doing whatever it takes to generate those feelings -- is the most creative thing you can do in your life.” 

She advises writing down a big list of desired feelings, and then whittling it down to three to five desired feelings. When in doubt, she suggests looking up the feeling's definition in a dictionary. For example, I was trying to decide between happy and joyful. Joyful is defined as: feeling, expressing, or causing great pleasure and happiness. Happy is defined as: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

My Core Desired Feelings are: 

 Core Desired Feelings Graphic

If you want to create your own Core Desired Feeling graphic, you can do so on Danielle LaPorte's website. 

I’ve never aspired to be inspiring before. That sentence is either poetic and lovely or odd and repetitious. Or some combination of both. Since starting my Gems by Kelley Etsy shop, quitting my full time job of 20 years and starting a blog, people have begun to tell me that I’m inspiring. That feels amazing. I’m trying to sort out this life of mine, and I’d love to inspire others in the process. The definition of inspire is to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. 

I’m using my core desired feelings as a guiding force for my days going forward. Looking back at February, there were some hits and misses. I’d like to say I was super in tune with my core desired feelings, but I wasn't always. They would have been helpful.


In 2015, I decided to create a bunch of new habits at once. It was a bit overwhelming. So instead, I created my “Happy New Month” habit layering goals. Each month I’m focusing on one new habit.

My “Happy New Month” goal for February was creating a daily habit of reading. The goal was to read for 30 minutes a day. I successfully read for 30 minutes a day for 26 of 29 days. I read more this month than I have in ages! I’ll tell you more about my new reading habit in another blog post. 

And then . . .  I found a great app for tracking habits. It’s called Way of Life. You set up the habits you would like to create or eliminate, and you check them off daily. The app makes a happy little noise when you create a chain of habits day after day.

On a side note, I love apps that make happy little noises. My favorite is the Etsy app. It makes a CHA CHING! noise whenever I have a sale. I have Etsy apps on my iPad and iPhone, and my husband Chris has an Etsy app on his phone. So I often hear CHA CHING! CHA CHING! CHA CHING! for each sale.

Back to the Way of Life app: the green number in the oval to the right shows your habit chain streak. I began habit tracking on Way of Life in early February, so that app shows that I've meditated for 23 days in a row. 

According to my Headspace meditation app, my current meditation run streak is 53 days in a row.

headspace meditation run streak tracking

Anyways, I got over excited by my new Way of Life app. And my old habit of being overambitious popped up again. So in February I created some additional new mini habits. And again, it was a bit overwhelming. As Britney would say, “Oops! . . . I Did It Again".


I added the mini habit of weighing myself daily. I read this on the Lose It! Blog. “Studies show that Researchers at UNC Chapel Hill conducted a weight loss study that focused on daily weighing . . . After 6 months, the group of people who had been weighing-in daily seemed to naturally adjust their eating and exercise, ultimately losing on average about 13 pounds. Those in the control group lost, on average, less than 1 pound.”

Weighing myself on most days was pretty easy. Have I lost weight yet? Two pounds, as of this morning. It seems like this theory is too good to be true. However, it only takes a minute, so why not? And how does my daily weigh in make me feel? Meh. Not great. But if I could lose 13 pounds in six months from a daily weigh in, that would make me feel pretty darn joyful. I'll keep you posted.


Chris and I committed to five minutes of dog training every day. This has been pretty easy and fun. It's even joyful at times. Five minutes goes by pretty fast when you have two humans working with two dogs on their obedience class skills. Our dogs are starting Level 2 Obedience Classes next week. We're committed to having Good Doggy Citizens.  


I also added the habit of walking Murphy daily. We have two dogs, Gracie and Murphy. Gracie loves walks, and she’s my buddy for longer walks when the weather is nice. Murphy is a bit nervous outside of our house and yard. To help him get more comfortable, I decided I would take him outside on his leash every day, even if we only walked halfway down the block. I brought a little baggie with pieces of hot dog and string cheese on every walk. I popped some goodies in his mouth every few houses. And it worked! Murphy goes outside to the land of hot dogs and cheese pretty willingly now. 

I took this photo of Murphy and Gracie at dinner time recently. They are oh-so-helpfully pointing out to us that the dog food is stored on top of the refrigerator. The top of the refrigerator receives lots of meaningful gazes at around 5 PM. It's definitely one of their daily habits. 

Gracie and Murphy two dogs olde English bulldogge


Chris and I both committed to cleaning the house every day for 10 minutes each. For our definition of cleaning, we had to do a tidying or cleaning task we wouldn’t usually do on a daily basis. Both of us found it difficult to follow through with 10 extra minutes of cleaning. We brought the goal down to five minutes of cleaning a day after a week or so. That was easier, but we still only managed to do this about 50 percent of the time. 

One of my big conundrums is that I don’t feel like I have enough time and money. I’m guessing most people feel like they don’t have enough time and/or money. But we must, on some deep philosophical level, have enough time and money, right? So I want to look at how I’m spending my time and money, and rejigger things until I feel like I have enough time and money. Until I feel abundant. Which has a great definition, by the way: existing or available in large quantities; plentiful.

Our daily cleaning project failure had an upside. We decided to get some quotes for a monthly professional house cleaning. Daily house cleaning did not make me feel joyful, peaceful, abundant or inspiring. But someone else cleaning our house could make me feel all sorts of Core Desired Feelings. So we might spend some of the money we have to get back some time. I’ll keep you posted. 

HAPPY NEW MONTH! My new habit for March

Dr. Christine Carter is a habit expert and author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work. She writes this: “The alternative to being super-ambitious when we create new goals is to build slowly. When I first started meditating in the morning, my goal was just to go and sit on the meditation cushion for thirty seconds every morning. (Yes, I really did this. Usually I sat a little longer, but not always.)”

Next month my habit will be walking. Since it’s best to start small with habits, I’m expanding a bit on my February mini habit. In February, all I committed to doing was taking Murphy outside and walking past two of my neighbor’s houses. I usually ended up walking about halfway down the block. It was cold! In March, I’m committing to daily walks around the block with one of our dogs. If the weather’s bad, I can skip a day and add an additional block to a different day. 

And really, I need to stop adding all of these extra mini habits. Dr. Christine Carter writes:  “If we want our habits to stick, we need to start really, really small. It is hard for us humans to make lots of behavior changes all at once. Creating a new habit or routine can take a great deal of energy and focus, and we have only so much self-control in a given day to work with.”

Have you added any healthy habits lately? I love blog comments! Feel free to ask questions or just say hi. 

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment