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How to start journaling for beginners: Jim Rohn’s advice on exactly why you should journal every day and how to use a journal effectively to change your life.
This book was created to answer the many enquiring minds who were inspired during Jim Rohn’s seminar to start a journal.
As someone who has tried and failed to start a journaling habit for years, I thought this was a godsend.
Although to be honest, it took me a good few years after I listened to this audio before I was able to do it.
Actually, I only succeeded when I decided to walk away from the paper journals and they’re OCD-inducing pens and whiteouts.
Once I started writing online and knew that I could just erase any mistake I made, I became a far more prolific writer.
It’s still a work in progress but I’ve been at it for more than a month now and have no inclination to stop just yet so I’m super psyched! 🙂
I’m finally forming the habit of a lifetime!
Now, how do you do the same?
Let’s listen to Jim Rohn’s audio recording of How To Use A Journal, where he talks about how he uses a journal effectively.
And let’s see if you can’t pick up an idea that you can try to use in your own life.
Side Note: I’ll sometimes take down Jim Rohn’s quotes verbatim and when I do, they’ll be italicised. These are beautiful nuggets of wisdom so keep an eye out. 🙂
How to start journaling for beginners: Common questions about starting a journal
- What am I supposed to write?
- Should I only write about business events?
- How often should I be writing?
- What kind of journal is best?
- Does spelling count?
Purpose of How To Use A Journal
This particular piece from Jim Rohn is designed to explore the incredible value of recording your life’s experiences as well as to examine the endless uses and methods of keeping a journal.
By the end of it, you’d probably be raring to go and get started.
And for good reason.
This is one of the best habits to develop if you’re about the business of changing your life for the better.
Tips for successful journaling
Jim Rohn talks about so many things in this audio and I’ll take notes as best I can.
I especially would like to document the many things that escaped my attention the first time I listened to this audiobook about 4 years ago.
Listening to it again now, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I have to admit that I still have so much to learn!
He’s nailed it again – you never really should stop learning if wish to remain open to the opportunities that life will throw your way.
So, what are Jim Rohn’s top tips on how to use a journal effectively?
Tip 1: It’s your book.
It’s your book. Make sure it reflects what you are.
That means, everything is ultimately up to you.
Which, I gotta admit was the worst advice I ever got in my quest to developing my journal habit.
Seriously, I’m a template kind of girl.
How was I going to make sure that I was doing it right unless I have a template?
Luckily, Jim Rohn does give some more concrete examples from his own experience so it wasn’t too bad. 😀
According to him, you choose what kind of journal you’ll use.
The size and style should suit your needs best.
It should be something that speaks to you.
Like a favourite armchair, a journal must be comfortable enough that you will want to go to it often.
Tip 2: One of the keys to success is flexibility.
One of the keys to success is flexibility. We must always be on the search for more effective methods to facilitate and accommodate new ideas.
Because you will change over the years – your needs and your tastes, for example, you’ll probably end up experimenting with the kind of journal you require and you might even realise that what worked before will not work now.
Which is fine and should be expected.
You’re not a static being, after all.
You change and grow so naturally, your journal must evolve to keep pace with you.
Side Note: I tried practically every other journal systems out there but this one – the blog – is the only one that’s really worked for me.
Tip 3: The only thing that matters, in the beginning, is that you develop the journal habit.
Sometimes, the only way to find out what works or what doesn’t is to actually do it.
Just start writing.
Start journaling and see if the current format serves you.
If it does, excellent.
If it doesn’t, then you can set it aside and try something else.
Tip 4: Take the time to get just the right kind of journal.
The use anything receives will always be in direct proportion to how it makes you feel when you use it.
The colour and material of the binding, the texture of the paper, the width of the lines or the absence of lines are important considerations.
If you feel lines tend to restrict your creative flow, then go with blank pages.
If you feel uncomfortable with blank pages, then choose lined pages.
I personally love the feel and smell of really expensive or unique journals.
What gets me stuck is the fact that I write really slowly, too slowly to keep up with the almost frantic whirring of my mental cogs.
I type faster than I write.
Also, I have mild OCD and get really annoyed when I make a mistake and have to use a whiteout as I mentioned above.
Sometimes, it annoys me so much that I stop journaling altogether!
Obviously, Jim Rohn was talking about using pen and paper and there is truly something cathartic as well as creative in the process.
But if you’re like me and you just can’t get into the habit of using analogue forms of journaling, then you might fare better with electronic ones.
Jim Rohn recommends investing in a high quality, expensive journal to capture your million-dollar ideas for a few reasons:
- Expensive journals tend to show their quality. The smell. The feel. It really entices you to keep coming back to it.
- It’s important to know that unique ideas are being stored in a suitable place.
This website ticks that box too because I have to pay for the domain, the theme and all the little things that make a website run smoothly.
Someone once asked me why I pay as much as I do for an empty book. And my answer was simple: I intend to put something valuable in it.
Let’s face it.
You wouldn’t store precious gems in an empty cigar box. So, why put a million-dollar idea in a ten-cent book?
Tip 5: A journal should be portable.
Bear in mind that a journal should be capable of going wherever you go. A journal that requires more space than your briefcase permits or more room than your desktop allows for you, more often than not, it will be left at home – gathering dust instead of thoughts and cobwebs instead of observations.
From personal experience, I can agree.
I once had a journal that were bigger than your regular A4 sheet.
It seemed a brilliant idea at the time because it contained so much information.
Unlike the usual blank page, it was divided into sections and was filled with journal prompts.
The sections themselves had subsections to help with goal setting, planning and accomplishment.
A truly magnificent journal, I thought.
Unfortunately, because it was massive and heavy, it didn’t fit many of my bags.
So, I’d leave it at home and make do with scraps of paper, which I would then transfer at night before going to sleep.
As you can imagine, it didn’t last very long.
That journal was part of a series and I have an entire year’s worth of journals.
I eventually sent them over to my sister, hoping she’d be able to make better use of it than I did.
Tip 6: Buying a journal is the easy part.
Buying a journal is the easy part. The real challenge lies in filling it up.
Some people get hung up with the idea of sourcing the perfect journal.
And if you have a journal addiction like me, you could spend hours in a stationery shop just enjoying the feel and scent of quality paper.
However, for most people, this isn’t the problem.
The problem is the actual thinking, reflecting and writing that journaling requires.
Any writer, no matter how prolific, will tell you that there is nothing quite like the intimidating emptiness of a blank page that calls you to put pen to paper and transform thoughts to words.
It’s exciting, yes. But the process can be terrifying too.
In fact, it’s a perfectly normal reaction to just step back and start busying yourself with other things – less important things that make you feel as if you’re doing something productive but are actually just detracting you from the task at hand.
What do you put in your journal?
What should go into a journal if it is to have meaning and value in your life?
Jim Rohn starts the discussion by talking about the purposes and functions of journals because, as is usual for him, it all starts with the reason.
When the why is clear, the what becomes easy.
And this part took me by surprise the first time I heard about it because I had no idea that journaling had so many purposes and functions in the first place.
Major functions of a journal
There are so many functions performed by a journal that I could conceivably spend the remainder of this tape and a half a dozen others discussing them.
But since more important than listening to my reasons for why you should be keeping a journal is getting busy actually using your journal, I’ll try to limit the list and merely highlight some of the majors.
A journal helps you problem-solve.
It offers you an effective way to figure it all out – life, people, business dilemmas and, most important of all, yourself.
If you’ve ever tried to write your problem down, you’d realise that something almost magical happens.
When you put pen to paper and detail what the problem is, solutions start coming up – some of them, you’ve never thought of before.
Perhaps the source of this magic lies in the objective perspective that writing affords you.
The act of writing creates a space between you and the problem that allows you to breathe a little easier or feel a little less pressure.
This, in turn, helps your mind process information a little more efficiently and effectively, allowing it to see past what was once a black, impenetrable wall of unsolvable problems.
Jim Rohn said that it is within this space that solutions have room to grow.
A journal helps you clarify the problem.
Writing about events and circumstances that occur helps you clarify exactly what is happening.
The difference between simply thinking about something and writing it down is that our imagination can sometimes act like a runaway horse.
Dangerous possibilities lurk in the shadows of our minds and can trick us into believing that the world, as we know it, is ending.
Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.
The worst can happen.
And there is nothing we can do about it.
The simple act of writing the problem down is akin to a steady hand firmly holding the reigns.
We start dealing with facts – becoming more realistic.
Are we really going to get fired from the job simply because we had to take a sick day today after a particularly painful dental surgery?
What’s the likelihood of that happening?
And if we were to get fired, what’s the worst that could happen?
These things (and things like it) start coming up as soon as we write about whatever is happening in our lives.
A quiet calm begins to take the edge of our fear until eventually, nothing but peace remains.
The fact is, things are rarely as bad as our imagination likes to portray them to be.
Once we finally see things as they are rather than as we think they are, we can then see our way clear to make them better.
Things to look for when journaling about problems
If you’re journaling in the hopes of solving a problem, you need to remember that describing the problem is only the first step.
You still need to analyse and reflect on what you wrote to see if you were being accurate.
The following are a few things that might be making it difficult for you to problem-solve or even to take responsibility for your actions:
Tendency to exaggerations or distortions of the truth
Are you really telling it like it is?
Take another look.
Perhaps your concern is making it seem worse than it is or your enthusiasm is making it seem better than it is.
Tendency to blame others for your problem
When you’re writing down your problem is it peppered with statements that blame external sources of frustration?
Do you think you’re facing this problem because of your family, your friends, your enemies, the government, the company et cetera?
This is the time to check if your holding yourself fully accountable and responsible for your actions.
I’m not saying you should stop blaming others and start blaming yourself.
This isn’t a question of blame but, rather, is a question of accountability.
Are you showing up for yourself?
You see, most of our difficulties are the result of either failing to do what we could have done or doing in haste, what we should never have done.
Tendency to expect others to change to solve your problem
Things get better when you get better. Passive hope never has and never will improve human circumstances.
Any permanent solution will require you to make a change.
It could require you to do something new, perhaps something you’ve never done before.
Or it could require you to stop doing something you’ve always been doing.
Whatever it is, remember that pinning your hopes on something that might never happen is gambling of the worst kind.
You’re not just gambling with your money.
You’re also gambling with your time.
And time, according to Jim Rohn, is far more valuable than money.
Because what if whatever it is you’re waiting for doesn’t happen?
You’d have wasted time that you could’ve better spent solving the problem on your own and then getting on with your life.
Better to pin your hopes on the one thing you have full control over – yourself.
Look for weak points
Look closely for weak points in the obstacle where you might attack to bring that obstacle to its knees.
Remember, David slew Goliath with but one small stone.
And it’s true.
Rarely do you need to do a complete overhaul in order to solve a problem.
Yes, sometimes you do need to.
But often, it’s the little disciplines, the very minor changes you need to make or adjust, that can make a massive difference and bring an end to a problem that plagues you.
Analysing your problem as you’ve written it down can bring these little things to light and make it easier for you to adjust.
Be like a scientist, impartial and observant, relentless in your pursuit of the truth.
Examine the problem as closely as if you’re peering through a microscope and studying a new specimen that no one has ever seen before.
Keep a record of your observations.
Refine what you’ve written before.
If you find something new, write it down.
If you discover that something you’ve written previously is no longer true, then record your findings and make sure to include whatever it was that brought about that change.
By doing this, you’ll eventually find the workable solution to your dilemma.
And you need to record that too: the ultimate conclusion to your problem.
If it worked, then you definitely need to have a record of it so you can employ a similar type of solution in the future, if needed.
If it didn’t work at all (or as well as you’d have thought), then you definitely need to keep a record of it so you don’t waste your time in the future, if a similar problem crops up that require a solution.
Either way, it’s a win for you.
Mistakes in judgement are nothing to be ashamed of. Surely, most of our personal growth comes as a result of our errors. But what is truly unforgivable is to make the same mistake twice.
Every mistake has its own price tag. But the most costly error anyone can make is an error unlearned and often repeated.
A journal helps you capture good ideas.
Emerson captured it best when he made this statement: I suppose that every old scholar has had the experience of reading something in a book, which has significance to him but which he could never find again.
Sure he is that he read it there but no one else ever read it nor can he find it again. Though he buy the book and ransack every page.
During the day, we almost always will stumble upon an inspirational quote, an intriguing idea, a potentially lucrative business opportunity – something that captures our attention and makes us think, “Oh, I gotta remember that!”
And do you ever remember that?
No, rarely do we do.
What we somehow do not capture today is lost forever, says Jim Rohn.
That’s not exactly true for me.
Sometimes, many years later, something that inspired me (and which I failed to record) will surface again.
It will give me the opportunity to write it down, to really remember it this time.
And if I fail to capture it again, it almost invariably never ever shows itself again though its existence will continue to tease the edges of my memory.
Do not trust your memory.
Unless you have an eidetic memory, chances are high that you’ll never ever remember everything you see, hear, taste, touch and experience – whatever it is that tugs at your soul.
Capture each one as best you can.
And the best way to do that is to write them down.
And the best way to make sure you can write them down as they come up in your life is to make sure your journal is by your side.
You get in there and get out with some of the stuff.
Let other people sit there, thinking they can remember it all.
Let other people treat opportunity casually. But not you.
I would ask you to treat it seriously.
Let other people wonder at the end of their lives where it all went wrong. But not you.
Let other people play whilst you work. Fool around whilst you study. Soak up the sun whilst you soak up ideas.
Ten years from now, they’ll still be trying to figure out how to pay the bills, or wondering why their marriage isn’t working out, or why they don’t seem to be getting ahead professionally but not you.
Life always rewards the serious students for their labours.
Write ideas down as you come across them.
This is what I’m trying to change with the way I journal.
Yes, I do journal every day.
But I tend to wait until the end of the day or even very early the next morning before I start writing things down.
By that time, sometimes I’d already forgotten.
The impressions are lost.
Even the highs and lows of my emotions are somehow no longer as colourful.
I can’t quite recall the specific phrasing of a particular quote or lyric.
The solutions to my problems that seemed incredibly practical and workable suddenly disappear. What were the exact steps I’ve envisioned taking?
All that’s left are bits and pieces that I suddenly cling to with great tenacity.
Is this you, too?
If yes, then I invite you to be more present.
Bring your journal with you everywhere you go and start jotting things down.
In my case, I’ll start creating a template to let me capture things, words or events that make me pause and smile, pause and cry, pause and rage – with greater ease.
I always used my Little Son as an excuse – “Oh, I can’t write it down just now because I’m looking after my son.”
As if the wee boy is holding me hostage and I can’t write anything down.
I would encourage you to get it all down as it comes your way – financial ideas, personal development ideas, time management ideas, family ideas, business ideas. Everything you’ve had the good fortune to come across
If an idea is worth listening to, worth reading, worth remembering, then it is also worth capturing in your journal.
Write ideas down so you can remember it better.
It’s well-known the world over that when you take good notes, you remember more.
There’s a whole science behind it but basically what happens is that when you take notes, your mind is more focused on the material than when you aren’t taking down notes.
Based on personal experience, this is especially true when I’m listening to a topic that is incredibly difficult or boring (like math, in my case).
I just start zoning out.
When I’m taking down notes though, I’m far less likely to start daydreaming of something a lot more fun.
Every idea has its time and place.
As Victor Hugo once wrote, “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world and that is an idea whose time has come.”
Perhaps the ideas you capture today will not have any specific meaning or purpose in your life at this moment.
But ultimately at some future point in time when you march into battle, the armoury of ideas you have carefully and conscientiously assembled over the years, will serve you well.
This blog is one example of this idea that waited for its time to come.
It is, essentially, a journal.
My journal, which helps me remember my days and nights and serves as repository for all my ideas, my reflections, my goals and dreams.
I’ve had this idea of developing a journal habit for decades.
But it wasn’t until late last year, 4 years after I first stumbled upon Jim Rohn and two years after I first listened to this audiobook, that it finally took root in my mind.
And began to grow into a habit that is as vital to me as air.
This one habit – journaling – is the one thing that helped me find a workable solution to a most pressing problem and if you had full access to my site, you’d be able to see the progression from unsolvable problem to a possible resolution.
There’s a time component to that problem and once it’s been resolved, I’d be able to really write about it in a way that would hopefully help others like me (because I can guarantee you that there are other people facing the exact same situation).
Ideas can grow, combine and transform into a completely new idea.
As we collect a variety of thoughts on any given theme or subject, there’s a tendency for these individual ideas to come together and form themselves into a whole new idea.
Some ideas are like coffee beans in a percolator – related to each other but also distinct from each other.
If you only have one bean, you have something special but not powerful.
When you combine them and give them time, you end up with something truly unique.
Create an effective filing system for your ideas.
When it comes to facts, to ideas, to observations, we have no system – as though they are incidental rather than essential to our better future.
This is where a journal comes in.
And this is personally why I fell in love with an online journal system.
It’s the best way to organise my thoughts and ideas.
I can group certain topics into categories, tag a few that are semi-related and then present them in an organised way.
Searching for something is also a breeze because I have a search function and I no longer find myself ransacking the pages of my own unfinished, mistake-riddled pages.
But if you don’t want to take on the task of learning a bit of tech (because I’d be the first to admit that WordPress has a bit of a learning curve) and would rather stay with an analogue system, then you need to find a way to organise it using a system that makes sense to you and make things easier for you.
Jim Rohn gives a few systems:
- Keep an index at the back of each volume so that you just have to list the highlights of your entries and add the page numbers so you can actually find stuff you’re looking for.
- Have a separate journal for specific areas of your life: personal, business, social, et cetera.
- Colour code your entries. Blue for personal. Green for business. Red for inspiration, et cetera. That way, you know which entries belong to a specific category.
- Divide your journal into sections and just write your ideas in the section it belongs to. Personal success? Write it down on Section 1. Business ideas? Section 2. Creative or inspirational ideas? Section 3. And so on.
Choose one of these methods or devise a new one but make sure you set up some kind of system.
Remember, failure more often than not is attributable to lack of information about how to succeed.
Each of us has the capacity to seek out the information we require to achieve our goals. Unfortunately, we do not all have the discipline required to gather data systematically so that the raw material is easily accessible and ready to be put into practical use the moment opportunity presents itself.
A journal gives you the chance to review your ideas.
When you have journal effectively, you have your past at your fingertips.
You don’t have to to pore over that difficult but inspiring book you read 3 years ago and which contained the kernel of an idea that’s been haunting you these past 2 weeks.
(This happens to me a lot!)
You don’t need to go and ask your best friend about the conversation you had a month back, which was just a regular meeting over coffee at the time but which today is suddenly all-important to your business.
Capture your experiences, your conversations and your impressions well – and you will have this reliable source of information that will never fail to serve you.
And here is the key point: For your journals to have the greatest value, they must be frequently reviewed.
You see, writing in journals is merely a way of capturing information.
But it is by re-reading our journals that we begin the process of translating information into practical knowledge about ourselves, our environment, our relationships, our businesses, our financial affairs, our dreams and our own better future.
So, set aside some time each week, each month, each year to go over your journal.
Pore over it with the same dedication you’d employ if you were applying to get into Harvard.
Read your journal from cover to cover.
Study it well.
Commit your successes to memory.
Learn from your failures.
Strive to be better than you were each and every moment of your life.
More than anything else, a journal is a place to document the development of your own life. It is a textbook of self-discovery and self-awareness.
When you develop a journaling habit and you start going over it, you begin to discover things about yourself that you might otherwise not have noticed.
Maybe you’ll see how high you’ve flown or how low you’ve fallen.
Perhaps notice how negatively you talk about yourself, if you do talk about yourself.
Or maybe, you’ll realise that you don’t celebrate your victories but keep on beating yourself up with your past failures.
A journal allows you to record your own observations and reactions.
Somewhere between what we see and what we do will be revealed what we are.
So, go ahead and write about that time you attended a party for the first time in years.
What did you see?
Who did you talk to?
What were the decorations like? The music? The smell?
What food did they serve?
Write down your observations but don’t stop there.
Go one step forward and start recording your feelings.
Did the decorations make you laugh or cringe? Why?
Did you like the food? Why or why not?
When you talked to some of the people there, did you feel included or excluded?
Was there an undercurrent of tension that was unmistakeable but couldn’t quite explain?
Write about that initial burst of anxiety that snaked around your heart when you first entered the fray, the relief you felt when you found a friendly face who waved you over, the discomfort when your ex cornered you for a conversation you didn’t want and the gratitude when the host rescued you with a skilfully crafted excuse.
Imbue your experiences with your emotions.
Add yourself to the mix.
This is your life.
It’s happening to you, around you and through you.
Commit everything in writing and preserve them.
These are all pieces of your life that you could never reclaim.
Describe it all. Don’t miss any of the events of your life. Capture the joy of your victories as well as the agonies of your defeat.
A journal can help you understand your inner conflicts.
Part of the human experience, perhaps the most important part, lies in learning to translate these events which occur outside of us into words and emotions within our inner worlds.
The better we become at describing what goes on around us, the better we will be able to undrestand some of the conflicts and the turmoils that take place within us.
The truth of the matter is, everything outside us will trigger a response within us.
Sometimes, the response is positive.
And sometimes, it’s negative.
In fact, in some Facebook groups I’m in, we’re required to put a trigger warning in our posts to avoid unduly stressing a member.
Journalling is a great way to help you surface your own triggers – be they positive or negative.
And I would like to say that a key part of self-discovery is finding out what those triggers are and why they incite such a reaction within you.
It’s simple cause and effect.
You need to know how you react to certain things and exactly what makes you react that way because it’s the fastest way to train your emotions so that they serve you rather than embarrass you.
At 3 years old, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to go into meltdown mode in the middle of the shop because the toy you wanted and saved up for is out of stock.
But if you’re already 23 years old, that kind of emotional display can be downright embarrassing, to say the least.
You can’t fully be in control of your life if you don’t know why you hyperventilate when you read something negative about Meghan Markle or why exactly you cheer for her even though you don’t know her at all.
For that matter, you could also have a neutral reaction.
And this is also something you’d want to study.
Imagine reading about the Australian bushfire and not feeling anything.
Don’t you want to know why?
What about this event makes you blank it out?
And do you really not feel anything or is it some sort of defence mechanism to protect you from emotional turmoil?
Remember that all human emotions are effects which can be traced back to particular events and causes.
A better understanding of events will always give us a clearer picture of the effects we may be experiencing.
A journal can be your best friend.
As you begin to open up and really tell it like it is, your journal can become an excellent, empathetic friend – one who will listen to all you have to say about your joys, your pain, your fears or your concerns.
This is particularly important because negative emotions, which can eat you up alive inside, fade away when you write about them.
The act of journaling diminishes their power.
On the other hand, positive emotions seem to grow in strength when you write them down, the process of writing magnifying their intensity.
So, write freely.
Don’t let anything get in the way.
Your journal will not judge you or mock you.
It will listen as patiently and lovingly as only the best of friends could.
And if, like me, you’re journaling online and are afraid of the negativity that strangers can heap upon you should they stumble upon your site?
Well, do what I do and protect some (or even all) pages.
You’re at choice here.
This is your book.
Write the way you want to.
Break every single grammatical or even aesthetic convention.
As long as you can understand the content when it’s time to review them, anything goes.
Jim Rohn does recommend starting each entry with the date, time and location of each entry for two reasons:
- They can provide you with a means of measuring your progress, your growth trends, the different phases of your life and your changing attitude.
- Where and when you write can provide interesting revelations (and Jim Rohn has a most interesting anecdote here that you’ve got to listen to at 19 minutes 19s remaining).
Your journal becomes like a photograph album, capturing moments of your life.
Journals, over a period of time, reflect mental changes within yourself and about your environment.
Unlike albums, a journal shows more than just how your looks change.
Instead, it sheds light into the whole process that’s transformed you and redesigned your life.
Therefore, it’s equally valuable – if not more so.
If you do it right, if you fill your journal with your emotions, your thoughts, your dreams, your plans and your experiences, then you’ll have in your hands a guide book that can help anyone interested (maybe your children or other members of your family) to achieve the level of success you have.
A journal gives you the chance to have a conversation with yourself.
First and foremost, your journal gives you the chance to talk to yourself and to hear what you are saying about your life, your future, your relationships and your goal.
I’ve now been journaling daily for almost two months and only now realise exactly how true this is.
Not that I don’t already talk to myself.
Sometimes, I do – normally when I’m frustrated and need to vent but don’t want to dump a whole lot of negativity over someone else’s head.
Side Note: As I wrote that last line, I realised I needed to unpack that. Why do I not want to be negative around other people but have no problem dumping negativity on myself?
Anyway, I find myself asking questions of myself like in the side note above and this has proven to be invaluable.
When journaling, you come face to face with yourself.
And if you do it right and answer the questions you ask of yourself, no matter how uncomfortable for you, you develop a greater level of self-awareness.
This self-awareness facilitates change.
And you’ll realise that your life has begin to shift in a breathtakingly positive way.
Remember, any positive change which occurs within you will ultimately manifest itself in a positive result outside of you – in your social and professional world, your attitude, your bank account, your habits and even your appearance.
A journal helps you develop more effective communication skills.
Our task as human beings is twofold.
First, we must effectively translate what is going on around us into terms we can comprehend.
And second, we must effectively express what is going on within us into terms the rest of the world can understand.
And this is where it all goes wrong sometimes.
Somewhere between me and the other person, a strange gulf exists that is difficult to bridge.
As William James wisely observed, “The most immutable barrier in nature is between one man’s thoughts and another’s.
As much as we live together, work together, try together, grow together, discover together, explore together and even pray together, man is truly an island unto himself – cut off from other human islands by the deep channels of non-communication.”
And I imagine that this has been the subject of many a study.
Why do people find it difficult to understand each other?
Is this merely a lack of interest in the other? A lack of development in listening skills?
Are certain topics, such as politics and religion, inherently more divisive?
Why is it so easy to preach to the choir and all communications breaks down when two different people from two different walks of life attempt to communicate, even if both are fluent in the language they’re using?
Fascinating, isn’t it?
I read once that the onus in communication lies in the sender rather than the recipient.
Communication is a two-way street.
Even if the sender were to bend over backwards in delivering a particular statement, if the recipient’s mind remains closed to the idea, effective communication is impossible.
In the Philippines, they say that it’s a very difficult undertaking trying to wake a person who’s already awake (and just pretending to sleep).
Hmmm, it sounds a lot pithier in the local language.
In any case, one of the skills that you can hone when journaling is your ability to express your own thoughts and emotions to yourself and, by extension, to other people.
In return, you then develop a greater depth of comprehension and sensitivity that allows you to understand what others are thinking, feeling and saying.
And this becomes possible because regardless of external differences, we are all internally alike.
We have similar dreams and desires – love, acceptance, recognition, understanding.
We all want to be seen and accepted for who we really are.
We suffer pain even if the causes are different and in the same manner, we can experience joy.
These things unite us despite our differences and we can use them as a springboard for greater understanding and empathy.
So, if that’s the case, what’s the problem?
The problem really is that we don’t bother reflecting on the things that happen to us.
In fact, the more painful or emotive a subject is, the more we shy away from it.
And so, most of the time, these things that could greatly enrich us (and our lives) just pass us by, without us ever gleaning from it the lessons and values that we could’ve enjoyed.
Suppose, however, that you took the time to capture the events and happenings of your life on purpose with paper and pen so that you always had a wealth of experiences from which to draw?
Imagine now what an incredible impact this awareness could have on your life.
How it could help to bridge the gap between you and your children, your clients, your associates, your neighbours.
You see, if you will but take the time to capture how it is for you at any given point in your life, then you will always be in a position to relate to how it might be for someone else at this moment in their lives.
A journal is a textbook for life.
Use it to capture the full range of human emotions that you continuously gather from your experiences.
Write in it often.
Read it often.
Experience and relive your life in greater and more colourful detail.
This is your life here, captured in every single page.
You’re the star.
And your journal can show you exactly what you’ve had to do to let your light shine in a sometimes grey world.
How to start a journal habit
There are two main steps you need to take if you want to start a journal habit, especially if you’ve never done it before (or if, like me, you’ve failed at it before):
Step 1: Get a portable journal.
For reasons already mentioned above, you need a journal that is portable if you want a head start.
The last thing you want is writing down your thoughts on paper scraps with the intention of transferring them over to your journal when you get home.
With rare exceptions, that doesn’t usually pan out.
And you’re left with your thoughts, feelings and observations on sticky notes that end up in the bin.
Step 2: Make sure you always have it with you.
After getting a journal that speaks to you, the next thing you need to do is to make sure that your journal is always with you.
Without much effort in your part, plenty of opportunities for putting it to use will present themselves.
Also, the simple act of carrying your journal speaks to the world and says, “I’m a conscious observer and participant in life’s events.”
When you present yourself to life as a serious student, life will respond by providing you with an endless opportunity to learn and grow and develop and enhance any and all aspects of your life.
Step 3: Just start.
Nothing can make you develop a habit without your say-so.
Nobody can force you.
Even if you read all the books in the world, listen to all the seminars, if you don’t actually commit to the habit and start doing it, nothing will come of the information you acquired.
Experience has taught me that the most I can hope to do is trigger your enthusiasm.
I assure you that by the time you have finished listening to this programme, the only thing that will stand between your intent and your accomplishment will be your ability to discipline yourself to get started.
In the final analysis, whether you decide to start a journal and still more important, whether you exercise the discipline to use it, the decision and the action must come from inside you.
No wise counsel from any source will ever replace the intensity that comes from a personal commitment to excellence.
How do you begin a journal to change your life?
If you’re a novice, then the following are the steps that you might want to take to get used to writing in your journal.
For this to become a habit, rather than a chore, you need to keep doing it and starting with something easy is always a good start.
Step 1: Choose a filing system.
Choose a way to organise your entries so that you can easily access them again when needed.
Jim Rohn made a few suggestions in previous sections.
Step 2: Always add the time, date and location before you start an entry.
Eventually, you might start to see a pattern emerging.
Are you super positive when you start work on a Monday morning but end the day doubting the very path your entire life is on?
What happens at work that changes everything?
This could shed light to something that’s costing you not only peace of mind but also self-love and self-esteem.
Step 3: Write a complete account of how your life currently is.
What’s got you turned on? What’s got you turned off?
You might want to compartmentalise your life and write about each area.
How is your professional life going? Your personal life? Your social life?
Do you love your job? Why or why not?
Is your marriage thriving?
How is your relationship with family and friends?
What keeps you up at night in excitement or in dread?
Do you look forward to starting your day tomorrow? Why or why not?
Be honest in your recording.
If a problem has been bothering you, it’s prime journal material.
Write it down in exquisite, painstaking detail.
Step 4: Write about your reasons.
Why did you buy the journal in the first place?
What were you hoping to achieve?
What role do you want it to play in your life?
A confidante that never ever judges?
A way to record your feelings, your experiences, your life?
Whatever your reason might be discovering what it is could help you with your journal writing.
If your reason for getting a journal in the first place is to record the problem you’re having and to arrive at a solution, then that’s what you write about.
A journal should be used in response to a specific need – a need to express, to analyse, to ponder, to explain, to record, to consider or to examine some or all of the elements and aspects of your life.
Step 5: Write about your problems.
Record any problems or issues that are weighing you down in the way described above.
Prioritise truth over embellishments.
Be ruthless and cut back on sentiments that come from an overactive imagination.
Reflect and analyse.
Step 6: Write about the solutions to your problems.
You could write about every solution you’ve considered and discarded, every solution that worked and that didn’t.
Make sure to write about the outcomes of each solution and why it worked or why it didn’t.
Step 7: Write about anything you want.
Remember there is no correct set of procedures for keeping your journal.
Journals are as unlimited in possibilities as are the individuals who use them.
Journals and life share one unique characteristic: Both provide you with the space to fill as you wish.
And for those who are not yet sure how they wish to fill life’s spaces, a journal offers you a chance to paint mental pictures of the limitless paths you could travel.
Be the author of your own life.
Create on paper a set of circumstances, then place you in the middle of them.
Step 8: Design a new life.
Use your journal as a canvas upon which you can paint the life of your dreams.
Imagine what that life is like and what you need to become in order to live your life.
What would it feel like?
Pick a direction and travel with your imagination to new environments, to new positions, to new opportunities.
Describe your ideal job, your ideal income, your ideal career, your ideal boss, your ideal company.
Reflect on your ideal self as well as your ideal values.
Make a list of those dreams that hold the most power, those that are most important to you.
Then transform them into goals – prioritise them and give the deadlines.
Create a plan of action so that you can achieve them.
Take your dreams from your mind to the page and then take them from the pages of your journal and make them happen in your life.
Learn to paint these mental pictures and then, like an artist, create something of substance on the canvas of your life, using all of your available resources.
How often should I write in my journal?
The answer to that is simple: As often as you wish and as often as you need.
That said, Jim Rohn cautions us against the two possible extremes:
- Never writing – You will be participating in life without capturing it.
- Constantly writing – You will be capturing life without participating in it.
Life should be delicate blend of both observation and action.
Gather up all you can – the hopes, the sorrows, the lessons, the friendships the achievements and the disappointments.
Gather it all that it may teach you and, in turn, that the lessons you have learned may become perhaps part of the legacy that you leave behind for your children and indeed, the world at large.
Let your journals capture your personal history and in doing so, they add to the history of all mankind, to our collective heritage.
Truly, the most valuable treasure anyone can leave behind is the knowledge they have acquired in their one lifetime.
May your life be devoted to becoming all that you can become and may your journals capture every moment of the adventure.