Journaling (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient tradition, one that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Presidents have maintained them for posterity; other famous figures for their own purposes. Oscar Wilde, 19th-century playwright, said: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”
There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being and scientific evidence supports that journaling provides other unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. Writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others, and the world around you.
When I was at my worst in 2011 and off sick with work-related stress, journaling helped me to rationalise my thoughts and identify patterns in my thinking as well as patterns in behaviour. Our thoughts become our emotions which then become our behaviours so understanding the impact of positive and negative thoughts helped me to reframe and move forward.
Journaling is now part of my morning ritual and I was delighted when my coaching client, Angie Simmons from The Growth Development Foundation produced a year-long journal titled “How I am feeling today?” In this blog I have captured my top 3 favourite parts of my daily journaling.
Change a to do list into a done list
It is far more empowering to make a list of all the things that you have done rather than have an ever growing list of things to do.
The benefit of writing DONE is you can celebrate the achievement of moving forward rather than feeling stuck. I typically write a minimum of 5 things that I have done in a day and what happens is the more you write down, the more you achieve. Your brain is saying “you can do this because you have done it rather than, this still hasn’t been achieved”. I find it eases overwhelm too because I am not worrying about what is still left to do because I can see I have done tasks and activities which are moving me forward.
Make a gratitude list
I write at least 5 things at the start of the day that I am grateful for, this could be things that I have already received like morning cuddles from my boys or noticing that it is a sunny day & I can get washing out on the line to have the feeling and smell of fresh laundry. I also put things on my gratitude list that I am yet to receive eg an opportunity to speak to a potential client, a testimonial for work completed, an outstanding invoice being settled. By starting the day with being grateful for what you have and what you are about to receive is positive and empowering rather than being in a place of worry, stress and anxiety.
Capture what has happened to make you proud
At the end of the day and before I go to bed, I will reflect and capture on paper, what are the things that have made me proud today or who are the people that have made me proud today and why. What I found was the small things were actually the big things. I am then able to link these events and activities to my motivators to start to build a picture of how my thoughts, feelings, and emotions are all connected.
Why don’t you give it a go for the next 7 days to see what you learn about yourself? I know and can say with confidence that the things I am grateful for enable me to take action to create my done list and feel proud of the interactions I’ve had.
I am not saying that every day is a good day and I always have positive thoughts, however these top 3 tips help focus me on the good rather than the bad.
Let’s dream, believe, achieve and make it happen. I would love to ignite your potential for success.
Claire Cahill is a member of the Woman Who Achieves Academy