One I’ll never stop doing until I die
Every single day, you see approximately 1,023,872 articles about habits that will make you more successful.
These articles aren’t bad, per se, but most of them miss the fundamental point of writing articles about habits.
Habits in and of themselves will never make your life better. If you become the type of person who adopts habits just to become Mr or Ms. Habit then you’ll never move the needle in your life when it comes to your actual goals.
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You can use certain habits as a means to an end.
The habit I’m about to share with you has helped me build a life and business I love.
It helped me overcome major challenges in my life. And I credit much of the ‘wisdom’ I’ve accumulated to this habit.
I won’t buy the lede here. Keeping a personal journal has had a more profound impact than most of the other habits I’ve ever tried or adopted.
Why Journaling is So Effective
They say if you want to reach your goals, write them down. If you want to remember something, write it down. If you want to discover what’s really going on in your mind, write it down. I use journaling to serve all three of those purposes.
I don’t know the science behind journaling, but there seems to be something special about the connection between your brain and your hand physically writing something down.
Also, if you’re looking for new ideas or you want to get to the bottom of something that’s bothering you, journaling helps you tap into your subconscious and discover some of the issues that were in your blindspot.
The act of journaling — having to move a part of your body — seems to signal a real effort toward the end you want it to serve. It’s a step above thinking and daydreaming.
And if you can turn it into a habit, you’re subtly telling yourself, “I have committed to doing something.”
Commitments build confidence, self-esteem, and make you more likely to reach whatever goals you have.
Each positive little commitment or habit you adopt, you’re saying “I trust myself.” That’s key. That’s huge. It’s pretty much what self-help boils down to.
How you journal doesn’t matter much but here are some ideas if you’re feeling stuck.
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My Journaling Routine
Every morning, I write down three things I’m grateful for. I do this because I’m very ambitious and have a hard time being content with my progress. I use this gratitude exercise to realize how many good things have happened in my life. It keeps me grounded — for about a day — then I have to do it all over again to refocus. It helps.
Then I use James Altucher’s idea-generating technique.
Here’s how it works. You write down 10 ideas per day. These ideas can be about anything you want. You can create ideas to improve your own life.
You can also create ideas for other people’s lives and businesses. James says he often uses his ideas as a networking technique. He’ll create ideas for others and send them (tactfully) as suggestions.
I usually write ideas for articles, books, and ways to reach some of the goals I have. You can use this technique to build your “idea muscle.” Most of your ideas will be bad, but some will be good. If you do this every day for a year, you’re bound to have a great idea or two out of 3,650 tries.
For those of you looking for a journaling routine you can use without having come up with everything yourself, there are authors and entrepreneurs who’ve created journals with pre-defined sections you can use to improve your life.
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The Daily Stoic Journal
Ryan Holiday is famous for bringing the ancient philosophy of stoicism into the modern mainstream. His book, The Daily Stoic, teaches one lesson per day from stoicism and uses examples from the real world to illustrate them.
What is stoicism? It’s the art of keeping yourself sane in an unfair and chaotic world.
The Daily Stoic comes with a companion, The Daily Stoic Journal, which has an accompanying section for each lesson where you can write down your own thoughts.
If you’re feeling stuck, anxious, or afraid and full of doubt, this is the journal for you.
eThe Self Journal
The Self Journal, created by Cathryn Lavery and Allen Brouwer, helps you reach your goals and come up with cool ideas.
It provides a systematic approach for both setting goals and tackling them.
It includes items like:
You can even get a pdf version of the journal for free right here.
These are the ones I’m familiar with, but there are many more you can find online.
Famous Journaling Routines
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Within, created an extremely popular morning routine called morning pages.
Morning pages involve free-writing for three full pages about anything you want. Free-writing that number of pages usually elicits creativity. Also, many have attested to the routine leading to major emotional breakthroughs.
It makes sense. If you’re feeling a little bit down but don’t know why and free-write about it for three pages, something’s going to come up.
Try it and see if you like it. I’ve done it before, but I like my short and concise routine.
Benjamin Franklin — one of the original self-help gurus — created a ‘virtues journal.’ It contained thirteen virtues charted on the page for each day.
He’d focus on one virtue per day and try to maintain the others as well. If he failed to be virtuous in one area, he marked an x on the cart.
In the beginning, the chart was filled with x’s. After a time, there were less. He credits the journaling technique for making him a better person:
Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.
Read also: 5 extraordinary habits that will make your life a success
With Journaling, the Possibilities Are Endless
Certain habits and routines get promoted too much, like journaling and reading, but I don’t mind because they’re life-changing habits that I hope people adopt.
You can structure your journal any way you want. Keep a journal for six months and I bet you’ll improve your life in some shape or form.
Why is it so powerful?
Again, the commitment alone builds credibility with yourself. Also, there’s power in monitoring yourself on a daily basis.
A great example of the power of monitoring — one of the best ways to eat less is to start tracking your food. Don’t even try to change your habits at first, just track what you’re putting into your body and it might inspire you.
The same goes for your finances…
…and your goals.
If anything, journaling helps you address what’s going on in your life. That’s a start. A great start.
CONTRIBUTED BY Ayodeji Awosika
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