Journaling – How to Get (And Stay) Going

Journaling is one of the big habits touted by self-development specialists, bloggers and heavy hitting entrepreneurs of every variety. So many of them swear by their journal as one of the most influential and powerful habits they keep that make them more potent professionals.

I tried keeping a journal on at least six occasions in the first 18 years of my life, and didn’t keep it up for any longer than a month at a time. Eventually, I just stopped trying because I couldn’t see the value in it. I just felt like crap for not being able to stick with something and had no use for the nostalgia, being a child. I had other methods for getting rid of my teenage angst (special thanks to Green Day and the 3rd generation iPod Nano); anxiety wasn’t an issue for me. So what reason was there for me to keep a journal.

The Value

As an adult, journaling provides very different value. Journaling helps me to maintain perspective over my time by letting me see how I spent my time over the last weeks. It gives me data with which to identify trends in my emotions, behavior and productivity, and to project those trends into the future. Further, it allows me to set a framework for my day to ensure that I can maximize my productivity. Journaling truly gives me a birds-eye view over my progress towards my goals.

I most recently started journaling about six months ago. I found myself in a position where I had very limited access to social media, friends or family. It was just me, my coworkers and the job I was on; so I started journaling, if for no other reason than to pass the time. I kept it up for almost a year, even continuing after the job was over for months.

But, just as had happened in the past, I started to fizzle out. After consulting my old journals and some experts on the subject, I came to a realization. Like so many other things, keeping a journal effectively and consistently requires structure.

Provide Yourself with a Framework

Since implementing a routine for my journaling, it has made it much easier to keep it going without falling out of the habit. Once something becomes regular and predictable, it takes away all of the reason for not getting started. I know what I need to do, I know roughly how long it will take, and I can plan around it.

I journal twice a day: once in the morning, and again in the evening.

In the morning, I will first write my vision for my life, write my current goal for achieving that vision, and outline the targets I’ll hit throughout the day. I pay particular attention to my targets, being sure to choose less than five targets, choosing only those that will provide measurable results in under a week.

In the evening, I detail at least one thing that I learned that day, outline my biggest wins for the day, and make a plan for how I’ll keep my momentum going tomorrow. I’ll also write one thing that I’m grateful for, ensuring that I end the day on a positive note.

Challenge

I challenge you to take up this process or create your own, then stick to it for one week. Every morning, on your phone or on paper, write down and think on your vision, goal and targets. Having a visual grasp on the path you’re trying to take is critical to finding measurable success and staying on the path long enough to achieve results. And then, every evening, sum up the day, detailing what you learned, your victories, and a plan for how to keep it up. Track your motivation and energy levels, as well as your results, and see where it gets you over one week. If you find results, be sure to let me know in the comments.

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