This One Powerful Habit Completely Changed The Quality Of My Life
Here's why it can change yours too
I've spent years struggling with finding my personal identity. More than that, however, I felt confused and frustrated with just about every aspect of my life. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life or what I wanted to choose as a career. Maybe this would have been fine five years ago, but I'm 22 now, married, and with a newborn - shit had to change.
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who's felt this way. Many of us have struggled with finding our personal identity, navigating through life without a compass or any idea of what our final destination even is.
I first started journaling around five years ago and remember having a wide variety of challenges at that time. I was having difficulty finding a decent job, my relationship was a rollercoaster ride, and I was anxiously awaiting oncoming heart surgery.
I remember how, each morning, as I sat down to write in my journal, a feeling of calm and serenity would take over, temporarily freeing me from my everyday stresses. When pen hit paper, my thoughts would flow from my hand to my journal, unloading all of the stress and anxiety that lulled me throughout the day. And as time progressed, I could look back and reflect, identifying areas of my life that needed improvement.
Journaling increases your sense of self-awareness.
Journaling helped me transition through important yet stressful stages in my life with a sense of clarity, knowing exactly what I wanted to do (or at least should do).
By looking through my previous journals, I'm able to look at my life subjectively, as if from another person's perspective, which allows me to take an honest look at how things are going and what I can do to change it.
Overall, using a journal has made it easier for me to look at a flaw or a weakness without judgment, but instead, with a renewed determination to make positive changes. By utilizing my journal, I've come to realize that my life is in my hands.
Your journal can be used for just about everything.
Eventually, I decided to improve my journaling ability, so I picked up a copy of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, which completely changed the game. I learned that there was so much more to journaling than meets the eye. My journal wasn't just a place to record my goals and feelings - but everything else as well!
After reading The Bullet Journal Method, I learned that my journal could become a valuable tool - a one-stop-shop for all of my accounting needs. Since then, my journal's become my address book, calendar, medical binder, financial planner, gratitude journal, notepad, sketchbook, and so much more.
Journaling teaches you to live with intention.
Learning to be intentional in life is one of the most important things you could ever do - but what do I mean by learning to live intentionally? Intentional living means making choices for yourself based on your values and morals versus the opinions of others.
When you write in your journal, write about your goals and ambitions, dreams, and deepest desires. Write down whatever comes to you, and come back to it whenever you feel yourself going astray.
Becoming intentional means shifting your mindset from 'what can I accomplish?' to 'what do I want to accomplish?'
"Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others' choices make us." - Richie Norton
Above all else, journaling forces me to be accountable for my actions.
When you write in your journal as much as I do, you come to realize that (most) of what's happening in your life is there because of the decisions that you've made in the past.
Don't believe me? Try it out.
Write down a short-term goal (one that still requires some effort), and then track your progress in your notebook. As you get closer to your goal, you'll be able to look back and see the exact steps you took to achieve it. If you find yourself going off track, well, as long as you've stayed consistent - and honest - with tracking your progress, you'll be able to reflect and see what went wrong.
It's hard for me nowadays to sit around and complain about the way things are going because I've become fully aware that my actions are what got me there in the first place. Which actions? I could tell you, just by peaking into my journal.
My (short) Guide to Journaling
Step one.) Get a Journal
My first journal was a thick, brown, leather-bound notebook that looked like something made in the 1,800s, which cost me nearly $80 and only lasted about three months. Since then, I've gone through numerous journals - about 48 and counting - so the biggest piece of advice to give when picking your first journal is that it doesn't have to be pretty. By the time you get to your third or fourth journal, you won't care what it looks like.
It's not about the outside, but what's on the inside - what you put into it.
Step two.) Start with an Index
Use the first few pages as an index, making it easier to come back and reflect down the road. Just write 'Index' in big letters at the top of the page. After that, move on to numbering the remainder of your pages in the bottom left-hand corner.
Step three.) Schedule in a time each morning to write in your Journal
I struggled at the beginning with maintaining a consistent journaling practice. Nothing feels worse than having a two-week gap in your journal. Eventually, I learned that if you don't schedule it in, it won't get done - so I developed a morning routine.
I made it a habit to sit down and write in my journal every morning before doing almost anything else. I established a system that held me accountable. Since then, I haven't missed a day.
Step four.) Read The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
Seriously, when it comes to journaling, this book changes the game. I can't even begin to explain how much Ryder's book has impacted my life. There's a lot of methods out there, but the Bullet Journal wins them all. You can find a few short videos on Youtube, but I'd definitely recommend reading the book.
"Each bullet journal becomes another volume in the story of your life. Does it represent the life you want to live? If not, then leverage the lessons you've learned to change the narrative in your next volume." - Ryder Carroll