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For the past 15 years I have a collection of black, hard cover books with pages and pages of personal and professional ideas, thoughts and insights I have captured along my own personal and professional journey.
So many of my coaching clients ask me about my journals and why do I journal all these years? The benefits of journaling are countless. People who journal every day experience better mental health, heightened productivity, lower stress, increased clarity and a greater sense of peace.
Strategic journaling leads to substantial happiness and fulfillment – a frame of mind that is worth striving for daily! As a Coach who has worked exclusively with entrepreneurs and professionals for well over a decade, I have used the process of journaling from the very beginning in order to help agents realize personal and professional transformation and achieve dramatic improvement in their relationships, their career, their health, and their overall well-being.
This week I have shared journaling strategies below to make your journaling efforts more effective. Keep in mind, however, journaling has no boundaries, no requirements and no rules. This is just a guideline to help point you in the right direction!
DUMP - Maybe you’ve just gotten into a fight with someone important. Maybe something bad has happened at work. Or maybe you’re just stressed out over a bunch of things. Something is going on in your life and you’re feeling it on an emotional level. Journaling invites you to write about the event, what happened and how you feel about it.
Dump #1– Express all of your thoughts and opinions.
Dump #2– When you think you’re done, keep going. Get it all out of your system and write even the stuff you would never, ever share with another soul.
Then when you’re completely done, unload it. Unload all your frustration, your anger, your fear, your anxiety, your pissed off-ness, whatever it is. When you’re done unloading, write the following line: “It’s time to turn myself around.” At that point, you want to stop dumping. You want to dump the dump. In other words: “I’m done dumping. I’m finished with that, and I’m ready to head in a new direction.” To head in a new direction, we can start answering questions like, “What do I want to do about this problem or situation? How do I want to view the world from this point forward? How can I move forward from here? What would I rather have?” Once you generate some answers to these questions, you’ll feel much clearer, more powerful and more at peace.
You are asking yourself. “How Can I Apply This Strategy?” Nicole Sachs journaling expert shared we ALL have so many incredible things we want to do with our lives. We seek to improve our businesses, our health, and our relationships with loved ones and with ourselves.
The bottle neck is we carry a whole host of narratives that do not fit or equate with the lives we would LOVE to lead. Use your journal to just unload, to dump it out and to write it down: “Here’s what’s going on, here’s why it creates this type of emotion, this is why I’m stressed or overwhelmed,” etc.
ASK, “WHY NOT?” - What’s stopping you from achieving a particular goal or living the life you desire? Write down every single reason why you believe you cannot have what you want. It could be you don’t think you have enough time, money, energy, experience etc. Then…write a challenge for every item on your list. Look at each individual item and ask yourself, “Is that true?” For example, do you really not have the resources necessary to get what you want, or are you simply expending too much time, money and energy on other things? Asking yourself questions like this allows you to identify your limiting beliefs and build the muscle necessary to overcome them.
BLUE SKY - Allow yourself to daydream. If anything were possible, what would you want your life to look like? Dream big and stretch the boundaries you tend to place on yourself, or eliminate them altogether if possible. Create the wildest, most crazy vision you possibility can. When you take the time to visualize yourself in that big, wild, expansive place, you experience a massive mood shift and begin to believe it’s possible to get there. Your dream becomes something you can actually contemplate instead of being something unattainable and/or designed for someone else more capable or deserving.
LISTS - Write down lists of things you want to do, people you want to network with, places you want to visit, characteristics you’d like in a partner, etc. If you find yourself crunched for time, you can even make a list of things you would like to journal about later on. This is a GREAT way to capture your thoughts and ideas in the moment, and you can refer back to these lists later to help guide you.
GRATITUDE - There are times in my life when I am feeling down about life and business. I worked with someone who suggested I write down a list of 10 things I was grateful for 10 times a day for a week. That’s 100 things, per day. I thought that was mildly excessive, but I did it anyway. This exercise changed my fundamental DNA. All of a sudden, I was only focusing on what was good and right in my world. I didn’t have any room left for what was getting me down − I flooded my system with gratitude. As a result, life and work became fun again! So, what are you grateful for? Write what you’re grateful for each day, or write every single awesome thing that comes to mind right now. If you’re stumped, consider this − do you have a place to sleep, clothes to wear and food to eat? Write it down!
DEVELOPING A PLAN - Do you have a great idea? Journal about it! What’s the idea? What are the steps involved in bringing the idea to fruition? What do you need to do? Who do you need to talk to? What are the action items? This could be in regards to anything − a business project, a party theme, a move to a new city, a weight loss regimen, etc. This kind of journaling invites you to write out your plan in regards to a goal.
LETTER WRITING - Pick important people in your life and write a letter to them saying what they mean to you, why they’re important, why you value them and what you love about them. Imagine you’re on your deathbed and you’re leaving behind your deepest, most intimate and kindest thoughts for this person. This may be a little morose, but it helps to envision the assignment. Don’t hold anything back! This exercise will immediately make you feel great, and even if you never share this letter with them, writing it actually increases your intimacy with them. It turns your attention to all the amazing characteristics of the key people in your life and leaves you with a wonderful sense of gratitude and appreciation
WHAT IS MY PRIORITY RIGHT NOW? - Sometimes we lose our way. We get distracted. We get pulled away from our goals, our desires and the things most important to us. We fall off the wagon. Answering this question helps us get back on track. It redirects our focus to what is most essential to us. You can ask yourself this question in terms of your physical health, emotional health, relationships, business goals, etc., and with any given timeline. For example, you could ask yourself, “What do I want to do in terms of exercise today? What exercises would I like to do every day? How fit would I like to be in a year from now?” This journaling activity recalibrates us.
I hope some of the benefits to Journaling this week have inspired you to take up this habit and apply it to your personal and professional life. I dare you to run out and buy yourself a journal and start journaling once a day for the next 21 days and let me know what that does for you. I am excited to hear all about it!
Strength and courage,