For several years now, I have been journaling on and off. I have tried both morning and evening journaling. I believe both have value. However, these days I mostly do evening journaling. In the morning, I still use my journal but mostly to plan the day rather than reflect.
Journaling has proved to be a very powerful practice for me. If you are interested in truly growing every day, I believe that you will benefit from a journaling practice.
The ancient stoics were supposedly big fans of morning and evening routines…
I understand why.
Anyone who is truly serious about personal growth and success in all areas of life could definitely benefit from journaling. The ancients knew that consistent reflection and harvesting the lessons of each day leads to maximum growth.
Many days go by that contain tremendously valuable insights but you throw them out because you didn’t reflect. Most people live very unconsciously and therefore miss out on the gifts that each day gives them.
Even during your worst days, a journal may be the difference between an AMAZING lesson and a useless and miserable experience…
There have been many seemingly bad days in my life only to have been completely transformed after journaling. Journaling is what led me to see the situation with much more awareness and thus draw the power out of it. The more you reflect, the more you draw power. Over time, you’ll notice yourself getting excited in the face of a tough day as you’ll start to anticipate the lessons you’re going to learn!
Mark Divine has an amazing journaling template that I use till this day for my evening ritual. Correction: Used. I have now slightly modified it to suit me better personally but that came with time. Here are a few questions that Mark Divine recommends you ask yourself at the end of each day as you sit down to journal:
#1 How was my state today? Was I on and in the zone or off and unbalanced? What contributed to this mental state?
This is a chance to check in on several key mental state factors: Hours of sleep, nutrition, exercise, self-talk, mental focus, etc. See where you went wrong or where you went right. After a good deal of reflection, I noticed that on the days where I got 6 hours or less of sleep, my performance went down significantly, especially if I did this several days in a row.
#2 What are 3 positive accomplishments I had today? What did I learn from them?
Sometimes even when you’re winning, you could think that you are losing. This is a chance to reflect on what you did right throughout the day so that you internally reward yourself for your efforts no matter how small. This is a good place to talk about how you hit the gym or worked a few hours on a project.
#3 What went wrong today and what is the silver lining?
This is where the juice is. No matter how challenging a situation was throughout your day, there’s gotta be something positive on the other side. This is your chance to really get those jewels of wisdom that will change your life. Warning: This question takes humility and a willingness to take full responsibility for your life. Although another person may have been at fault, there is still something you can learn from the experience.
#4 What question would I like my subconscious mind to reflect on tonight during sleep?
Think about the question before you go to sleep for a few minutes and then answer the question in the morning in your journal, you’ll be surprised.
Use the above template. It’s truly ALL you need to start. Over time, add your own little touch.
I personally added a component to my journaling process called “corrections“. An example of corrections is if I did something I didn’t like throughout the day then I write down what I should have done instead as if I did it. So I write it in the present tense.
Reality: Today, I came home from work feeling stressed out and anxious. I didn’t feel like doing anything so I skipped out on my workout that I planned and instead ate a big bag of chips and watched Netflix.
Then I would write what I should have done as if I already did it.
Correction: Today, I came home from work feeling stressed out and anxious. I felt some resistance in regards to my workout and felt the urge to comfort myself with food and leisure. Instead, I ate an apple, took a relaxing hot-shower and told myself that if I at least hit the gym for a quick workout then I could come home and relax a bit and play 30 minutes of video-games.
The purpose of corrections is simply to install the proper behavior into my deep mind. Writing in the present tense forces me to visualize myself doing that behavior the right way which ultimately reconditions my thinking/behavior. Very powerful.
Many people journal but they don’t realize the power of doing it right. Correct journaling in my perspective is to draw as much gold as you can from your day. It is to milk each day for all of its beauty and lessons. Over time you will notice many improvements in how you live.
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Love this post. Keep the good work up.
Thank you, Samuel.