The Greats did it. The Greats do it. The Greats of the future will do it too.
So can you.
The art and practice of journaling and scribing your life for reflection and empowerment.
For far too long, I would spin myself in circles…repeating the same mistakes, getting stuck in thought loops and digging myself into the ground.
Day in and day out, too much precious time was spent on going through the motions, making mistakes, making successes with LITTLE TO NO time spent on reflecting. How could I grow as a man without understanding the causes and consequences of my actions, my thought process and everything in between? What about making wonderful connections between seemingly unrelated things? There is so much beauty and opportunity abound!
But no…I had been too busy doing trivial things to spend time “journaling.” Who’s got time for that? Too many wasted years, experiences, missed opportunities because I didn’t prioritize my growth.
I now know the power in putting your words down on paper, both for health but also for growth. There is a certain type of magic that happens when you physically get your ideas and thoughts out of your being and transcribed somewhere that you can see and reflect. If you haven’t ever written for yourself, then this is a short guide to get you started. If you HAVE written for yourself, then this is the guide to give you some fresh ideas.
Try typing or writing. See what works best for you. I HIGHLY recommend writing “old school” pen and paper – you spend enough time on your phone/tablet/computer as it is, don’t you? I’m not sure I know of anyone who complains that they don’t spend enough time looking at a damn screen. The act of actually writing out takes more time and allows for deeper reflection
I carry a notepad and pen with me wherever I go to write down thoughts and ideas as they arise. Time has shown me again and again that thoughts are fleeting, and if I don’t either capture or act on them in the moment, they can escape back into the cosmos. However, I do have dedicated journals for my morning and evening writing. Having those exclusive places for each easily allows me to go back and revisit days, weeks, months etc. to check for patterns and see how my thoughts and perceptions have evolved. Most of the ideas from the pocket notepad get interwoven into my bigger daily reflection regardless.
Here is how to get started:
STEP 1: Choose one time during the day
It doesn’t have to be morning or night – but DEDICATE that time everyday to your writing and reflection. Even if you have to set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier, I can assure you its worth it.
STEP 2: Put your phone away
Preferably in another room or even turn it off. Turn the tv off. If you have roommates, lock your door. Free yourself from distractions. Its very easy to get sidetracked, especially in the beginning. We are constantly getting pinged, buzzed and beeped at. Our attention is fleeting. You owe it to yourself to free yourself from distractions and influence. You’ll be surprised what happens when you get in the zone and start flowing.
STEP 3: Choose what you want to write about
The following are a couple of questions to get the ball rolling. These have been beneficial for my practice. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own, or interpret the following to fit your scenario. Step outside your comfort zone too. Challenge yourself. And as you write, don’t criticize yourself for your thoughts. This is a practice strictly for you and you only (unless you want to share with someone). Regardless, there is no need to pass judgement on yourself for how you’re feeling at the time. Let yourself bleed onto the paper. Be open, be honest, be vulnerable. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with anyone else?
What is my goal for today?
Am I where I want to be – physically, emotionally and spiritually?
What can I do to advance my position in each of these realms?
Who can I reach out to or help today?
What went well? What inside my control did I do well and how can I do better in the future?
Who am I grateful for today or who made an impact on me?
What situations, if any, have caused me undue stress?
Don’t feel obligated to answer all these questions. Start slow. Build your practice. Perhaps you even have some different questions…use those!
This is merely a guide to get you started in the write direction. Heh.
If you’re hesitant, set a timer for 10 minutes. Surely you can spare 10 minutes out of your day to work on yourself. Grab your notebook and a pen, and begin. Once that timer goes off, you’re free to close your notebook for the day. However, I think once you start flowing, you might find it difficult as its hard to close the door on clarity.
The physical process of getting thoughts out of your head onto paper can be a unique therapy. It has a much different effect than simply speaking, and personally I find it much easier to organize ideas since my mind is can go all over the place. You can also start to make connections between different days or situations, recognize patterns, and ultimately alter your perception on a variety of topics.
When something is worrying you, its so easy to keep replaying the scenario in your head over and over and over. And if you keep it in there, it can become toxic. Negative thought loops are dangerous. Express yourself. Move it from the inside to the outside. You’ll be surprised by the relief of actually getting it out of your head and system.
Do you have a mission statement, or some words of power guiding your direction in life? Perhaps an affirmation of some kind? If you do, write it in the inside cover of your journal, then read it before writing.
If you don’t, try coming up with one that reflects your unique self and situation. Memorize it. And even after you memorize it, still write it down. Read it out loud before you start your journaling. That can facilitate the process of it becoming real. It will help guide you. Your actions are a direct result of your thoughts; if you don’t have a direction, where are you truly going?
Are you in stasis? Feeling complacent? Watching life pass by before your eyes? Are you one of those people who live for the weekends and wonder where the time has gone this year? If so, then a daily practice may be right for you. Guide yourself to where you want to go, don’t expect it just to happen all by itself. Be an active participant in your goals and sense of self-being.
Act on yourself, don’t be acted upon by others.