Keeping a journal is a powerful tool for personal development. It creates focus, improves self confidence and helps maintain a positive mindset. While we only record events in a diary, a journal allows us to reflect on those events, record our reactions, thoughts and feelings. We increase our self awareness by journaling our thought processes, we learn about ourselves and our reactions. This learning gives us the choice of taking control and changing what we don’t like. We no longer have to function on auto pilot.
Robin Sharma, author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, is a strong advocate of journaling and I have found his suggestions of what to journal, very helpful when I started. Here are some of the things you might want to record:
Your journal as a victory log
We tend to focus on what we don’t achieve and this often results in lack of focus and becoming demotivated. By writing down our small daily achievements, the brain releases the feel good hormone, dopamine that helps us stay motivated and inspired to do more. My current challenge is that I am not getting enough exercise. Instead of focusing what I’m not doing (going to the gym 3-4 times a week), I am recording the 10min spend on the bike, the walk with the dogs, the use stairs and the hour spend walking in the mall. Though not at goal level yet, I feel rather pleased and I have in fact booked a golf lesson.
Your journal as a gratitude log
I strongly believe the words of Wayne Dyer, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at, will change.” We have to train our brains to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. The practice of keeping a gratitude log helps us do exactly that. However challenging you current circumstances, you should be able to record at least five things that you are grateful for. Instead of focusing on the frustrations, focus on the blessings and record them. Don’t know where to begin? Look at the things you take for granted: your health, your family, the sunrise, the love of your pets. Once you change your focus, you’ll find a universe of abundance.
Your journal as a worry log
“Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile…” Whether this tune is familiar to you or not, the advice is sound. When our brains are pre-occupied with our worries, we cannot operate at optimum level. Our creativity and problem-solving skills suffer. Write down your worries in your journal, take action where you can and forget about the rest. This will allow you to relax and focus on what is really important.
Your journal as an epic novel
We live fast paced lives in an instant world. You have instant banking, instant access to knowledge, instant coffee. In the movie This is 40, a wise old woman offers the following advice to the birthday girl, who has trouble admitting her age, “Don’t blink, because then you’ll be 90 like me.” I often find it difficult to remember what I did the previous day, not to even speak of last month, but if I look back in my journal at the amazing experiences I’ve had, I cannot but help to get excited about my life. Use your journal to record the special events of your life, so that you can page back. What made this day special? Write down quotes that speak to your heart or mind, the people and special places that have an impact on your life. Don’t let your life slip by unnoticed.