“Keeping a personal journal a daily in-depth analysis and evaluation of your experiences is a high-leverage activity that increases self-awareness and enhances all the endowments and the synergy among them.” — Stephen R. Covey
At this time of year, there is a plethora of advice on how to set and achieve your goals. Knowledge, motivation, intent, and desire serve as a weak catalyst for the changes you want to make and the goals that you want to achieve. You are guaranteed to face obstacles to the improvements that you want to make this year. The best weapons you have against those obstacles are having a growth mindset and having grit. Therefore, let us explore journaling to increase your growth mindset and grit.
I can almost hear a collective suspire and the words being spoken “who has time for that?” Try my structured journaling process for four to six weeks. Then you can compare your growth and progress to where you would be without that practice.
Growth Mindset & Grit
Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, brought us the concept of growth mindset. In her research, she discovered the impact of having a “fixed” versus “growth” mindset. Dr. Dweck summarizes her findings as follows: “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more those with a fixed mindset…” Because of that, it is important to explore how one can journal to increase growth mindset.
Dr. Angela Duckworth, is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She delivered a popular TEDtalk: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”. She defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It is important to know how to journal to increase grit.
Imagine what would be possible for you if you had an ingrained belief that you could grow, change, achieve. And imagine that you coupled that belief with an unrelenting passion and perseverance. I believe half of your success equation would be in place.
Further anneal your success with a daily, conscious, deliberate, reflective, experimental, and persistent effort towards achieving your goals. Now, any success that seemed elusive has transformed into success that is highly attainable. Daily journaling about your goals and how you are investing your time and energy in your priorities, forces you to align with and course correct as needed in order to do the small daily, weekly, monthly actions that your goals require present every single day.
If you still feel ambivalent about investing time to journal, it might help to know the numerous benefits that journaling affords. The benefits of journaling can be: increasing cognitive abilities, increasing mindfulness, goal achievement, increase in emotional intelligence, boosting memory and comprehension, strengthening self-discipline, improving communication skills, healing, exercising creativity, increasing self-confidence, increasing clarity, deeper self-awareness, stress reduction, improvement in problem-solving, and helping with improving relationships.
It is a lengthy template, but I journal twice a day. I rarely go beyond one page (front and back in my 9X7 journal). So it is not much writing. There are many areas, but my reflections are brief. I synthesize. I have adapted my template from the Michael Hyatt’s daily journal template.
Frist page of Journal: One of the first pages in my journal lists my goals in each key area of my life and at least three sub-actions (commitments) that must happen in order to achieve those goals. My areas for goals are Spiritual, SELF, Spouse, Children, Family and Friends, Home/Finances, Business, University Work, Coaching Skill Development
Morning Journaling Session
Sleep: I note how much sleep I obtained the night before. This compels me to ensure that I sleep the hours that I need to function optimally. Moreover, there are interesting correlations between sleep and outcomes of the day based on adequate or deficient sleep.
Word of Day: – I am a logophile, and I love learning new words.
Spiritual Reflection: A short reflection based on Scripture or a short spiritual reading.
“Yesterday I…”: I describe the events that happened yesterday…sometimes in as little as two or three sentences.
“What I learned…”: Here I reflect on the insights from yesterday. How can I leverage yesterday to be better today?
“Today I am grateful for…”: It is always good to start the day with gratitude. I do this by writing one sentence of gratitude (meaningful or seemingly inconsequential things that make life beautiful).
Today’s Goals: My daily goals are 80% informed by my goals for the year, which are recorded on the first page of my journal. As I create my daily goals, I look at my goals’ page and draw from there. I only allow myself three goals. I accomplish (work towards) more than three things. However, the ones designated as goals for the days take precedence over everything.
Evening Journaling Session
I write the word Examine and then reflect on the following:
“I am reading/learning about ….”: I always want to be learning, reading something, listening to a podcast, thinking deeply about concepts. Moreover, I record a couple of sentences for that.
Review of Clarity, Focus, and Intensity: This is where I reflect on my time and energy use. My three words for the year are clarity, focus, and intensity. So I reflect whether I approached my three goals with clarity, focus, and intensity.
“Tomorrow, I want to be mindful of …”: I desire to do better tomorrow than I did today. My intent is to grow. Therefore, I set an intention based on my insights of the day.
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” — Thomas Edison
My win from today: Always, always end on a positive note. So no matter how small or grand the win –document it.
Some people sleepwalk through life. When you are investing time to journal about life and reflect twice a day you will awaken. You will become conscious of all the unconscious things that are working against you. You will not only awaken to internal factors that hinder you, you will also awaken to external factors that hinder your progress. Moreover, you will be able to avert those.
Lastly, next year, it will be easy to closeout 2018. You will have your journal replete with entries documenting your life, how you gave of yourself to others and to your work, of your struggles, and triumphs. You will have your goals and the works that you did towards achieving them at your fingertips. Moreover, you will have documentation on the progress of those goals. I hope that your year-end synthesis and refection will amaze you and fill you with gratitude because you lived the year well…with a growth mindset and with grit.
Dweck, C. (2016). What having a “growth mindset” actually means. Retrieved January 9, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means
Nguyen, T. (2017). 10 Surprising benefits you’ll get from keeping a journal. Retrieved January 8, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/thai-nguyen/benefits-of-journaling-_b_6648884.html
Purcell, M. (n.d). The health benefits of journaling. Retrieved, January 7, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/