Several years ago when I first begin my career working in community service, my work required the consistent practice of creating plans, completing reports, meeting deadlines and successfully reaching goals.

Hence, I learned the benefits in life and business of writing things down; my ideas, motivations, frustrations, to-do lists, notes, strategies etc. and using my own personal journal to house it all in.

Recently, as I was perusing one of my retired journals, I was taken by what it revealed about who I was and how I got things done.
Here are 15 virtues of my retired journal and why if you’ve never used a journal or planner, you should start now!

1. It will reveal your priorities at the time.
2. It will reveal your progress or lack thereof.
3. It will reveal your personal growth, if any.
4. It will reveal your greatest strengthen & weaknesses
5. It will tell you if you’re a quitter.
6. It will tell you what you’re good at.
7. It will tell you what you love.
8. It will tell you why it didn’t work out.
9. It will help you chart a new course.
10. It will reveal your mental and emotional state at the time.
11. It will remind you of what you’ve forgotten and left behind.
12. It will show you how far you’ve come.
13. It will reward you.
14. It will embarrass you.
15. It will tell you the truth!

To create a written account of your day to day life ie what you want, need, plan to do and how you will do it, takes courage because you never know how it’s all going to work out in the end. And when it doesn’t work, you’ll have it all there, in writing, to remind you. But when it works, when you can check off that last item on your list, you feel validated and capable!

For me, one of the most revealing things that I discovered about myself was that I seldom included “me” on the list. Most of my lists or plans were either about my family, household or work. I think my thinking was that since it was for me, I wouldn’t need to write to down. Surely, I wouldn’t need to be reminded to do something for myself!
I was wrong!

So the lesson learned here was, I should have put myself first more often. I would have be better positioned to do anything else that came after.
Also, I noticed that in some cases, I would just ignore the things that didn’t get done, like they were never there! My thinking on this is, when I first listed these things as something I planned to do, I probably knew then that I wasn’t going to follow through. Either the thing was too big to tackle at the time or it didn’t mean that much to me in the first place. So I turned my head and let it die…:(

The lesson learned here was; don’t write it down unless you feel that there is a good chance that you will follow through! The last thing you want to see is a bunch of things that went undone. This will do a job on your self-confidence and hinder your ability to believe that your word has any value.

Whatever the outcomes are, it’s hard for me to imagine a greater retrospective tool for gaging some of the most important aspects of who you are and how you get things done!

So if you’re ready, my best advice for selecting the right journal/planner is, not to pick one that asks questions you’re not ready to answer. A lot of planners can be pretty elaborate which can be intimidating.

For a first time user, I suggest using a simple journal type planner with lined paper and a wire spiral spine; that way, you can decide on the when, what, how and where, when you’re ready. If you still need help getting started using your journal, start by creating a simple daily to do list and grow from there.

Revisit your journal long after you have retired it and brace yourself for it will reveal about you!

Download my FREE eBook – How to Begin to Believe, 12 Essential Steps to Believing You Can Do It!  It will help get you on your way!

 

1. Am I grateful?

Gratitude is a great balancing force. It allows us to be kind to ourselves and have a greater perspective of where we REALLY stand.  Find something to be grateful for and remind yourself of it everyday!

2. Are my expectations/goals realistic?
Sometimes we can set goals higher than we can climb at one time. Let yourself off the hook and break down your goals/expectations into smaller more do-able pieces.

3. What actions I am I repeating over and over again that never seem to work out?
We can have a habit of repeating certain actions or practices, not because they’re working but because we’re comfortable with them and/or we’re too lazy or fearful to come up with a new way of doing things. Think about it; make a list…find the courage to make a different turn and you may find yourself in a different place.

4. What can I do differently?
Change is scary. But knowledge is power strong enough to beat change into submission…so read up on how to begin to change ONE thing for the better…start with something small.

5. Am I consistent?
Start…stop…start…stop! Successfully accomplishing anything like this is almost impossible! Instead, create mini-plans, each big enough to move you forward but small enough so that you can get it done before you’re tempted to quit!

6. Who am I spending my time with?
A lot can be said about the company we keep. We know full well who the toxic people are in our lives… pull back a little. They’ll be pissed for a while and probably accuse you of thinking that you’re better than they are but guess what, you probably are!

7. Do I speak positively of myself and my circumstances?
I can’t do this… It’s never gonna work…I suck! Instead, try saying this repeatedly everyday…Day by day, in every way with the help of God, I’m getting better and better and better and better!

8. Do I spend too much time complaining?
For some reason, complaining can feel so good! But we know that it’s a complete waste of time and energy. Fight the urge to complain by recognizing the triggers; do you complain when you hear other people complain, do you complain over lunch or when the bills come in or at the end of the day. Instead consciously decide to say the mantra in #7.

9. Do I pray regularly for myself and others?
“Prayer changes you and then you can change things”! Or how about this one, “You have not because you ask not”- James 4:2-3

10. Do my good habits outweigh my bad ones?
Make a list of all your good habits and all of your bad habits, now adjust the scale in your favor!

11. When was the last time I had a good laugh?
Laughter is a powerful thing. It’s said to even have the power to heal. But I know one thing for certain, during that moment when you’re laughing you’re head off or even smiling really hard, you’re not thinking about what’s going wrong in your life, you’re simply enjoying your life NOW at that moment and the more moments you can have like that, the better! Here’s joke to get you started…A snail gets mugged by a gang of turtles. When the cops show up and ask him what happened he replies, “I don’t know. It all happened so fast.” :)

12. Am I taking good care of my physical, mental and emotional self?
You can’t do your best if you don’t feel your best and nobody will take better care of you than you. Fix what’s ailing you!

13. Am I getting enough sleep?
There are those people, like my husband that need no more that 4 to 5 hours sleep tops and they’ll ready for the day. Not me, if I get less the 7, I’m screwed! So whatever your number is, make it happen consistently. And when you find yourself getting tired, stop for a while and start again when you’re refreshed.

14. Am I preoccupied with thinking the worst?
What we think and how we think weighs heavy on our actions and their outcomes. Thinking positive doesn’t mean be unrealistic, it means that once you’ve done all you can, hope for the best… I mean, why not? And one more thing, stay away for from negative thinkers and negative talkers, they are not your friends!

15. Am I a procrastinator?
I think it’s safe to say that we all procrastinate sometimes, some of us more than others! Refer back to #5 about creating mini-plans and schedules to keep yourself on task. And remember, if you fall off schedule, just start again!

16. Do I surround myself with more takers than givers?
Weed out the takers and let them go…slowly if you have to BUT LET THEM GO!

17. Are things really as bad as I think?
Go back to #1- Am I grateful. But don’t get me wrong, I understand that the answer to this question for you may be “Hell Yes!” And if that’s the case, that means you’ve learned a lot about what not to do. Study all the mistakes you’ve made and why and what you should or could have done instead, now do something with everything you’ve learned… write about it, start a blog etc. But most importantly re commit yourself to never making the same mistakes again!

18. Am I a priority in my own life?
Why do we have such a hard time with this? (me included!) Try this, at the beginning of each day, do one thing for yourself first before doing anything for anyone else. Hopefully, this will help you to begin a habit of thinking about you first…this is a good thing!

19. Am I doing the best I can with what I have right now?
When you think about it, can you honestly say you’re doing your best? If so, then be patient, your hard work will pay off eventually and propel you to your next level. It may not look like you think it should so be prepared to accept it however it comes. If you’re not doing your best, ask yourself why, maybe this thing is just not that important to you …maybe it once was, but not anymore. Re-evaluate and start again..try harder this time!

20. Who can help me?
Have you asked for help or better yet, have you asked for help from the appropriate source? Bad advice is bad advice even when it’s met with good intentions. Find someone who has done what you’re trying to do and spend time studying how they went about it; then use their plan as an outline to create a plan specific to your needs and goals.

21. Who can I help?
No matter how bad you think things are, you’re better off than the next guy. Find this guy and help him out. We all have the gift of making somebody’s life better, use it and at some point you may realize that things may not be so bad after all.

Download my FREE eBook – How to Begin to Believe, 12 Essential Steps to Believing You Can Do It!  It will help get you on your way!

(As Featured In Dumb Little Man)

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