“A life worth living is a life worth recording.” – Jim Rohn
Let me share with you what I believe to be one of the most overlooked success secrets in the world – Journaling. Journaling?! Yes, journaling, as in writing down your thoughts in a personal journal.
How is journaling a success secret? The importance of journaling is tremendous, but very few people really talk about it because it’s kind of a private part of their life so they like to keep it a secret.
Look around your room or house and think about an item or goal that you now have that you didn’t have lets say a few years ago. For example, let’s say you have a new computer or a new TV or a new girlfriend or whatever. Do you remember when you first wanted that item? Do you know the date? Do you know how long it took you to get that item? Do you know how you described it the first time you wanted it? Has that description changed? Is the item better than you originally wanted or did you “settle” for second best?
These are ALL questions you would be able to answer if you kept a regular journal. Journaling enables you to take a trip to the past and learn about yourself. Journaling allows you to enter your head a year ago, or 2 years ago or 8 years ago and see what kinds of thoughts were running through your head at that time, see what kind of ambitions you had, what kind of fears dominated your mind and what kinds of things were important to you back then.
It is an eye opening experience to say the least. If you started writing in your journal today, and kept writing even as little as once a week, two years from now you would be able to see this journal and read about yourself today.
Secondly, journaling can be a very important tool for self-development. Self reflection in a journal can be a lot of fun, it can be very enlightening and it can open up your world to a totally new way of learning.
I’ve had all kinds of problems, frustrations, annoyances in life and turned to my journal for help. I simply pick up my journal and begin writing. I write whatever I feel like writing at that time. If I’m frustrated, I’ll write about that. If I’m excited, I’ll write about that. If I’m angry, I’ll write about that. Whatever I feel like writing, I write. It’s almost like I’m having a conversation with myself, so I write and I ask myself questions like “Ok, what can I do about this?” and I then answer myself. It’s an amazing way to resolve problems in life. It’s a lot more difficult to do this same thing inside your head without writing it down.
I’ve always found that people who try to resolve everything in their heads end up going in loops. They encounter a problem and think about a possible solution, then that solution creates another problem that requires another solution. Then that solution creates yet another problem and by this point the mind is so confused it goes back to the original problem and the cycle begins again. However, if you write this down as you’re figuring it out, you’re much more likely to work through the problem instead of getting mentally fatigued and giving up the train of thought and re-starting all over again.
8 Tips on how to get started on journaling:
- Buy the nicest journal your budget can afford. A nice journal will give your brain the signal that you are serious about this. Also, a high-quality journal will last for a LONG time.
- Write as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, a week or even a month. Just re-start and keep writing as much as you can without feeling guilty about any time you missed.
- There are no rules to journaling in terms of content Here’s some opening lines that you could start with for example which sway away from the traditional “Dear Diary, here is what happened today…”: “Today I learned something very important from the weirdest person…” “I’ve finally decided what I want to do with….” etc.
- Take care to make sure that your journals stays private so that you don’t hold anything back while writing. If you’re too afraid to write something down because you have a snoopy room-mate etc., and they won’t respect your privacy perhaps look into a software based system with a password code.
- Blogging is not journaling. Although blogging is growing SO fast in today’s world, I don’t find it a substitute for Journaling. I run this blog website but I also Journal personally. Blogging is for sharing with the world, and Journaling is for sharing with your future self.
- Your entries don’t need to be any specific length. You can have an entry that just says “May 29, 2006 – 3:47pm — It’s so hot today, but it’s nice to see the sun out finally. Ok gotta go.” And that’s fine. Some entries might go on for pages, while others might be very short. Even an entry like “Smile more.” is good enough. Don’t feel pressured to only write when you’ve got something profound to write. Write whenever you have ANYTHING to say.
- Once you finish a journal, keep it in a safe place. Imagine the value of your journal to you 30 years from now. Don’t be careless with them. Your thoughts right now will be worth a lot to you some day. You will want to “go back in time” someday and see what you used to think.
- Start today! Go get a journal and start today. There’s no time like the present to get going.