The power of journaling

Closeup of woman's hand holding a pen over a journal as she is journaling

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are an interesting bunch. I should know, I am one. We’re constantly coming up with new ideas for business, blog posts, podcasts, videos, promos, trainings, products, and services.

Yet, all too many of those (potentially great) ideas are lost as quickly as they popped up. We’re going to write them down later, or we write them down on a Post-It or the proverbial napkin. That then gets lost.

Enter journaling. A great solution that is way more than just a written record.

Jim Rohn, business philosopher and author urges, “If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.”

Okay, that’s a mouthful. But even if you only want to be one of all those things, keeping a journal is a great thing to do. Because it records (fleeting) thoughts and creates a lasting record.

What is journaling?

Journaling is simply the practice of capturing your thoughts, ideas, insights, and reactions for future reference. It’s a log of what’s going on in your life. This record of your musings can be either electronic or physical.

A journal is very personal, reflecting your goals, aspirations, and innermost feelings. However, I’m not necessarily talking about keeping a diary. I think of a diary as more of an intimate conversation with yourself about your daily experiences and your reaction to them. While the lines may be blurred at times between journaling and keeping a diary, think of journaling as something you would more readily share with others.

Why journal?

Here are 6 powerful reasons to journal:

  1. Capture thoughts and ideas you would otherwise forget. Perhaps you’re listening to your favorite podcast or reading a great book. Suddenly, you catch a killer quote or a meaningful statement that you want to remember. Write it in your journal and reference the source for future use.

    Or perhaps you’re doing something totally unrelated to work and a great idea invades your mind. You can’t afford to go down this rabbit trail right now, but you know that if you don’t write this idea down, it will likely be lost forever. Make note of it in your journal, so you can come back later.

  2. Record the history of your growth and progress. This is important. We often forget the mileposts and accomplishments of the past. We forget about the hardships and obstacles that we had to overcome to get us where we are today. But when we chronicle those in a journal, we can reflect on our progress and on significant events in our lives.

    Also, at times, we can all get discouraged. But when we review where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished and endured in the past, that can give us renewed hope. And finally, these stories provide potential material for blogs, podcasts, and videos.

  3. Accumulate material for building your own reference book. As business people, we’re always reading, listening, and talking with others. In the process, we’re exposed to countless quotable sayings and the wisdom of others. Write these down in your journal and you create an invaluable source for future reference. It’s like your own personal Wikipedia!
  4. Hone your writing skills. Obviously, the way to improve your writing skills is to write. Journaling is yet another opportunity to write. And writing in your journal allows you to experiment with styles and approaches that you may not readily use in your work. You become a better writer when you journal.
  5. Clarify your thoughts. There’s nothing like writing in order to gather and clarify thoughts. When you begin to express a nebulous idea in writing, you put flesh on the bones of that idea and it comes alive. And once you’ve clarified your thoughts, you’ll find it easier to express them verbally with others.
  6. Increase your productivity. When you keep a journal, it helps you weigh decisions, prioritize tasks, establish goals, and order your life. Deciding something in your head is fine, but writing it down adds weight to the matter and helps you map out how you’ll get there.

How to journal

Now that you’ve got 6 powerful reasons to journal, here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Decide whether to use a physical journal or an app. There are advantages to both, so choose what works best for you. Here’s a listing of some of the best journaling apps. I have used Day One for 4-5 years now and love how easy it is to just jump in and write something.
  • Keep your journal handy and journal when the muse strikes.
  • Date your entries for future reference.
  • Reference the event, discussion, experience, or source that prompted the journal entry. Give credit where credit is due.
  • Establish a daily routine with your journal. The time need not be long, but habitual. For me, the best time is usually in the evening as the day winds down. Others like to journal in the morning as they plan their day.
  • If you use a personal form of shorthand or abbreviations, make sure you’re clear enough that you’ll be able to decipher it years or even decades from now.
  • 2019 is young and still full of opportunity. What better time to start a journal than right now?

    Let me leave you with a small prompt: What quote, thought, idea, or insight will you write in your journal today?

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