One Thing Everybody Should Do To Improve Their Life
A life worth living is a life worth recording – Marilyn Grey
We often find ourselves in a rut where we are demotivated and just not making any progress on the things we want in our life. Despite our countless efforts and persistent action we don’t seem to be getting any closer to the place we’ve envisioned for ourselves.
We’ve all been there
and it’s definitely one of the most frustrating positions you can be in; doubt.
When you don’t seem to be making any progress at all you start questioning yourself, your methods and maybe even the entire enterprise you’re doing at that time. It’s by every definition a creativity killer and has blocked (and will block) many people in reaching their goals.
What I’m saying basically is that people often get discouraged when they don’t see the results they want to see. (and who wouldn’t be?).
We want to lose x amount of weight, we want to make x amount of money with our job, we want to get that cute girl to like us. We often give a valiant effort but end up with less than desirable results and just end up quitting altogether.
Ultimately those are all situations we have little to no control over but still we choose to focus on those outcomes rather than on the actions we need to take to get there. And that’s exactly where we go wrong if we want to stay motivated. We focus on the wrong things.
Now, how can we help to counter these frustrations and bouts of inaction?
Journaling, simply as that.
Why should you journal?
Journaling gives you a great overview of all the places you’ve been, the information you’ve absorbed over time and allows you to really see the things that need to be done. There’s no way on earth you’re ever going to retain all that knowledge by yourself. Recording where you’ve been gives you a clear image of where you want to go!
But the most important thing that journaling does IMO is that it shifts the focus from the things you want to accomplish to the things you’ve already accomplished. When you stop focusing on the “gap” between your current situation and your desired situation and start focusing on the progress you’ve already made you’ll immediately feel a sense of accomplishments. Doubts will wane away and you’ll instantly feel like you’re doing the right thing since you’re (obviously) making progress!
It’s the same as comparing a before and after/current picture when you’ve lost a lot of weight. Memories of accomplishments are rewarding. And that’s exactly what we should be doing during the days we feel like we’re not getting anywhere! Focus on the gap you’ve already filled between your current situation and your past situation. This will put your goals more in perspective and see it more as a journey you’re making than a mountain you still need to climb.
Tips when journaling
I’ve only recently began journaling my life but have found out that there are many benefits to be found from the practice. And therefore I really want to share some of the tips I’ve found useful the past 9 months of journaling so you can get the most out of this!
• Just Write Something
The most important thing when it comes to journaling is to make it a consistent habit and that’s where persistence kicks in. Whenever you feel like you don’t really want to write down anything, just do it anyway. Just make it short.
When I’m exhausted and just want to crash in my bed I just write;
“Really tired, had a great/exciting/rewarding/tiring day. Need sleeeeep”.
That’s it. You can write as long and as short as your want. The most important thing is to just write something.
This one is rather short and off course not relevant but like I said above that’s just to condition the habit continuously. Off course I also have some more intelligent inputs in my journal 😉
It’s also pretty funny to reread those paragraphs after a while and in the end you’ll have a really long story of your life you can read at the end of the year (or whenever you want)
• Write before 9PM (set a timer)
I found personally that my mind starts to shut down after 9PM and I start writing gibberish in my journal. Don’t recommend that as there’s no real value you can get out of it later. Write when you’re crystal clear!
Obscure scribbling’s and vaguely cohesive sentences don’t really support a memorable experience.
You can even set a timer to go off on your cell-phone or laptop so you’ll be reminded when it’s time to start journaling!
Have A List Of Questions
Some days you just don’t know what to write about and therefore I believe it’s pretty convenient to just have a series of questions you can answer every day when you’re out of inspiration. You don’’t need to stick to them but they can really help you out when words or ideas aren’t “flowing” out of you.
Here’s a list of thought-provoking questions (most of which I got from project life mastery)
• What did I do today?
• What special moments did I have?
• Any new thoughts or ideas?
• What was great about today?
• What did I love?
• Did I have any character flaws today?
• What have I given today? In what ways have I been a giver?
• What did I learn today?
• How have I grown today? In what ways has my life improved?
• What am I grateful for today?
• How do you want your future to look like (visualize what you want)
• Where will I focus my energy on tomorrow? (3 – 4) tasks.
• If this is all I did my whole day, would I be satisfied?
Another great reason why I use journaling is because I often overthink my situations a lot. Ever heard of paralysis by analysis ? Yeah, my brain melts down frequently because I just can’t stop thinking.
Therefore I just dump everything out on paper in the middle of the day to really clear my mind and be able to see what needs to be done next. It’s a really comforting feeling to realize that there’s nothing left to worry about since you “dealed with it”
It grants you more peace of mind.
Make your journal a work of art! Make it really personal so it’ll represent your life the way you want it to. I like to be creative and therefore I also make drawings, doodles, schematics and even poems in my journal. Whatever floats your boat to make it really yours!
I personally use a physical journal since I like the old-school method of writing with pen and paper. But you can also use other tools like evernote, Microsoft one note, Microsoft word or even wordpress blogging software to keep track of your journey.
The only downsides I’ve found from keeping a physical copy are the following
• You can’t ctrl + f search for a certain paragraph (you’ll actually have to browse through your memories)
• You can’t include video, audio or links
• Writing is slower than typing
• It’s able to burn, soak in water or get lost. So you need to take great care of it.
• It’s not password protected (so anyone can read it if you don’t have one of those fancy locks)
But off course there are also many upsides
• Old-school feeling of writing
• More creative (glue, scissors, …)
• Physical copy in handwriting
• Doesn’t need a battery
You can probably take the time to try out both methods and see which one you like the most.