In this chapter, we'll talk about:
how journaling helps us to remember ideas and revelations we've had in the past.
how to explore our ideas in depth, and at our own pace.
+ three writing prompts.
"Watching a TV show today, I realized they're discussing things happening in 2009. In other episodes, 2015. I don't know why, but I started to panic. That was six years ago! Time is moving so fast, and I fear I haven't really accomplished anything; I haven't helped anyone or made their lives better to my knowledge... think I felt anxious because I don't want another six years to go by in the same way..."
- From Girlboss. Guru's Personal Journal (2021)
WRITING THINGS DOWN IN A JOURNAL ALLOWS US TO EXPLORE those notes at a more suitable time, when we are in a better position—a more productive head space—to take action and bring our ideas and goals to life. Using your journal regularly will automatically track your ideas, so you can see in real-time how they develop and progress. It creates a miniature ever-expanding time capsule, so you can flick through the pages in one, five and ten years from now to gain an insight into how far you've come.
Writing things in any way prevents memory loss; we can't then forget the logic behind a decision we made. We can learn from our mistakes and re-visit old, unused ideas. Plus, with the right 'filing system' within the journal itself—a contents/index or labelled tabs, as an example—research into and referencing our notes is fast and efficient.
Creative solutions to real-world problems such as work, home life, family or health can be explored on the page too and ideas relating to those discarded (but never lost) if they prove unworthy of our time. It is much easier to walk away from notes on paper than fix actions we took in haste.
MINOR TASKS CAN SOMETIMES FEEL ENORMOUS, IMPOSSIBLE, EVEN. BUT WHEN we document smaller achievements, we automatically re-live those successes and how they make us feel; sometimes, celebrating the tiniest steps (indicating we are moving in the right direction, even if only slowly) can make a huge difference to our self-confidence.
Journaling is a wonderful way to record and monitor growth and progress across the many aspects of our lives, without studying figures or charts or percentages. Who wants to do the math? Hmm... no takers? Exactly! How often do we reach important milestones, or tick off the goals and tasks we set; goals which, of course, should always be realistic and reasonable? There is little point setting targets we know we will be unable to reach and, therefore, force ourselves to fail before we've even started.
Try to avoid dedicating an entire page of your journal to criticising achievements though, or to weigh up success vs failure. Get clear early on what success means to you, because this is likely to differ to your friends, family and colleagues, and may change with circumstances and over time. That's fine. What you want and what they want will naturally be different because you're different people with different priorities. It is tempting to obsess or feel fear when ideas are not converting to action fast enough, or if hard work doesn't immediately flourish into a myriad of rewards. Or, annoyingly, if someone else points out we're lagging behind (even if it's according to their ideals, not our own).
In itself, the act of journaling is easy. We write things every day—putting pen to paper is a basic activity. But, what we learn about ourselves during, and things we uncover as a result of, can be the opposite. To challenge our core belief systems and exit our comfort zones can instantly teach us something new about who we are and what we really want. Weed old, outdated opinions and biases, and re-plant tried and failed ideas because they could bloom again as you explore other sources of inspiration.
Open Your Journal
Turn to a blank page in your notebook to answer the following questions:
Do you often forget or discard ideas without giving them much consideration?
What reasons or excuses do you give yourself or others to avoid putting in the work to bring an idea to life?
Write about the last idea you neglected, and why you chose not to pursue it.
Need a journal?
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