If you try to tackle everything wrong in your life, you’ll quickly burn out and quit. It’s happened many times before.
Life is busy. You don’t have time to simultaneously focus on a thousand different areas of your life. That’s exhausting and, frankly, not helpful.
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes keystone habits as “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
A person might start exercising once per week, and unknowingly begins eating better and being more productive at work. She begins smoking less and showing more patience with colleagues and loved ones. She uses her credit card less, feels less stressed and has increased motivation toward her goals. The ingrained patterns in her brain reform, and eventually, she becomes an entirely different person. All because she started exercising once per week.
You acquire one of these habits and everything in your life can change. Keystone habits spark a chain reaction of other good habits and can rapidly alter every aspect of your life.
Journaling daily is the most potent and powerful keystone habit you can acquire. When done correctly, you will show up better in every area of your life. Every area! Without question, journaling has by far been the No. 1 factor to everything I’ve done well in my life.
The problem is, most people have tried and failed at journaling several times. It’s something you know you should do, but can never seem to pin down.
After you read this post, you’ll never want to miss another day of journaling again.
Journaling optimizes your creative potential: The 10-minute routine.
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” —Thomas Edison
10 minutes before going to sleep:
It’s common practice for many of the world’s most successful people to intentionally direct the workings of their subconscious mind while they’re sleeping.
Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish.
Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing. In Edison’s words, make some “requests.” Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the clearer your answers will be.
While you’re sleeping, your subconscious mind will get to work on those things.
10 minutes after waking up:
Research confirms the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, is most active and readily creative immediately following sleep. Your subconscious mind has been loosely mind-wandering while you slept, making contextual and temporal connections. Creativity, after all, is making connections between different parts of the brain.
Consider the requests you made of your subconscious just before going to bed. You asked yourself loads of questions. You thought about and wrote down the things you’re trying to accomplish.
Now first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned after its subconscious workout, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.
I often get ideas for articles I’m going to write while doing these thought-dumps. I get ideas about how I can be a better husband and father to my three foster children. I get clarity about the goals I believe I should be pursuing. I get insight about people I need to connect with, or how I can improve my current relationships.
To be sure, you’ll need to practice this skill. It might take several attempts before you become proficient. But with consistency, you can become fluent and automatic at achieving creative and intuitive bursts.
Journaling accelerates your ability to manifest your goals.
As part of your morning creative burst, use your journal to review and hone your daily to-do list. Review and hone your life vision and big-picture goals.
As you read and rewrite your goals daily, they’ll become forged into your subconscious mind. Eventually, your dreams and vision will consume your inner world and quickly become your physical reality.
Journaling creates a springboard for daily recovery.
People struggle drastically to detach from work. More now than ever, we fail to live presently. Our loved ones are lucky to experience a small percentage of our attention while they’re with us.
But utilizing your journal can curb this mismanagement. At the end of your workday, reopen your journal and review your to-do list from that day. If your morning journal session was excellent, you’ll have likely gotten everything done you intended to do. Private victories always precede public victories.
Journal sessions are your post-work reflection time. Account to yourself what you got done that day and what needs to be moved to tomorrow. Write the things you learned and experienced.
Lastly, direct your subconscious by writing about things you want to focus on tomorrow. As you put work behind you for the evening, your subconscious will be preparing a feast for you to consume during your next morning’s creative and planning session.
Journaling generates clarity and congruence.
This keystone habit has so much power. By journaling in the morning and evening, you’ll quickly see what is incongruent in your life.
You’ll clearly see what needs to be removed and what should be included in your life. Journaling is a beautiful and powerful facilitator of self-discovery. My own journaling is how I’ve come to form my sense of identity and path in life.
Not only will you have more clarity about your path in life, but journaling improves your ability to make small and large decisions along the way.
On the pages of your journal will be the future world you are creating for yourself. You are the author of your life’s story. You deserve to be happy. You have the power to create whatever life you want. As the designer of your world, get as detailed as you desire.
Journaling clears your emotions.
Several research studies found that writing in your journal reduces stress. These benefits include:
- Reducing scatter in your life
- Increased focus
- Greater stability
- Deeper level of learning, order, action and release
- Holding thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated
- Releasing pent-up thoughts and emotions
- Bridging inner thinking with outer events
- Detaching and letting go of the past
- Allowing you to re-experience the past with today’s adult mind
When you are in an intensely emotional mood, journaling can help you more fully experience and understand those emotions.
After you’ve vented on the pages of your journal, you’ll quickly find a release. Objectivity will return and you’ll be able to move forward.
Without a journal, intense emotional experiences can be crippling for hours, days and even years. But an honest and inspired journal session can be the best form of therapy—quickly returning you better and smarter than you were before.