How to Keep a Journal and Absolutely Crush Your Goals

If your mind is cluttered and you find it difficult to define your intentions and what you want out of life, keeping a journal will give you the self-awareness to express yourself more effectively and productively. Before you start, you want to design your new habit of journaling so that you see the most benefit.

Step 1) Eliminate the Burnout Mentality

When you first begin to journal, you may look to change yourself overnight. Instead of buckling, straining, and stretching yourself thin for a quick boost, settle into the journey of self discovery and do not burn out. Forget about being a superhuman and ditch the idea that you’re going to see incredible gains in the short term. I started small with a two to three sentence summary of how my day went and where I needed to improve. The habit was tiny, but it worked. In fact, the ease and simplicity of taking these notes was the key to my journaling success. The cure for over-ambition is long term thinking. You have a life ahead of you, and make the effort to embrace the time you have.

Step 2) Turn Your “Why” into Fuel

Notice the time frame you have in mind. If you fast-forwarded 5 years from now, you should still see yourself journaling. You should also see the powerful benefits that have blossomed as well. The only guarantees are death and taxes, but understand that you have now placed journaling among the ranks those two dire guarantees. You’re no longer thinking with a burnout mentality, and now you have free reign to befriend the real reason why you want this habit. Tap into the 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, or even 30 year vision of where you see yourself and turn the energy you find into the leverage that will get you there.

Step 3) Make The Process Exciting

Who wants more chores anyways? We have enough so find ways create a process that is as simple and enjoyable as possible. These don’t require any genius stroke of creativity; they could as simple as journaling your achievements for the day so that you have something to look forward to putting down. I also recommend keeping a gratitude journal about whom and what your grateful for. The exciting part is that the source of your gratitude will be drawn forth, and the achievements and tasks you’ve completed will have acknowledgement and momentum. Your journal should be something you look at and be proud of. You are under no requirement to enjoy the time you take to journal, but you will surely find yourself sticking to the habit if you do.

Step 4) Review Your Journal Regularly

You put in the effort and consistency to make entries and have logged your life into your journal, but this will do you no good if there is no follow up. Our brains are programmed to forget the majority of what goes on which is why journaling is so valuable. It allows us to capture our exact state of mind, feelings, thoughts, and perspective at that time. Journaling by itself will forge self-reflection and self-awareness into our lives, but the real gold is found when we can go back in time occasionally to rediscover and expand ourselves into a deeper knowledge that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The Science of Goal Architecture

Fantasizing about your goal should be banned. At least until you have a solid action plan and have taken the first step. The real reward comes not from the dream, but achieving it. The first step in the program can be very dangerous and corrosive if you don’t follow up and build what’s next. Fantasizing about your goal without action is much like dreaming of building a house. But instead of actually building it, you have a party on your empty parcel of land; there’s no house, no foundation, no fencing, no rooms,  just grass. You then decide to tell other people about this party, and you all get drunk and high off that piece of land and never get to enjoy what’s made the dream special in the first place. Afterwards, you look at your piece of land, hungover and discouraged realized that you’ve accomplished nothing. DON’T DO THIS.

Set up your goals properly. 

What makes a good goal?

Some 86% of millionaires say they made their own wealth, according to Fidelity’s 2012 Millionaire Outlook Survey. Of these self-made millionaires, 30% told Fidelity that they struggled financially when they were young. These self-made millionaires didn’t get there by twiddling thumbs or wishing for success. They had clear and written goals. In a study conducted by Ferguson and Sheldon (2010), participants wrote ‘why’ and ‘how’ they will achieve a goal. They concluded that goals need to be:

Meaningful- you should know exactly what you want, and what it means for you, what is your WHY?

Measurable- your goals should have a metric. To be a Success Alchemist means we have to be scientific. How long will it take/how many hours, minutes, days etc? What is the metric used? Is it calories eaten, pages read, words typed, pounds lifted? What’s the frequency?

Challenging- If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. – Frank DeVito  Remember: Success is overcoming a challenge.

 

Sources:

Ferguson, Y., & Sheldon, K.M. (2010). Should goalstrivers
think about ‘why’ or ‘how’ to
strive? It depends on their skill level. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 253265.

Control Your Life by Controlling Your Time Part 2

Suppose you just got off your lunch break from work and I call you all the way from New York. I say “Listen, if you meet me here at the John F. Kennedy airport by 3pm sharp, I’ll give you $750,000.” You look at the time and it’s a quarter past noon. You’re first reaction is no way. Impossible. That’s a little under 3 hours. The flight is two, and traffic alone to the airport would be an hour. But wait with three quarters of a million on the line you get creative.

We talk ourselves into believing we cannot control events that we can really control. The better you feel about yourself, the most productive you will be. What types of things do you do that make you feel best? You feel best when you do things that matter most to you. What are the highest priorities in your life? Of these, which do you value the most?

Why do we have so much trouble accomplishing the things that mean the most to us in the long term? We think we are going to have more time at some unspecified future date than we do now. “Well, I’ll do that next week, or next month, or next year, or when I retire, or when I make better money,  when the economy is better etc”. We think we can somehow save time. As if you don’t have it already. That’s like trying to jog a mile faster by saving your energy. You have all the energy you need. Instead of walking half the damn time, we should focus on actually running.

You would be very upset if someone gained access to your bank account and stole all of your money. Why then don’t most people blink an eye when all sorts of distractions creep into our lives and steal our time?Procrastination. The dirty word. Why do we procrastinate? Important tasks are likely unpleasant. What’s sexy about balancing a checkbook, counting calories, or taking out the garbage? Be productive and successful requires us to leave our comfort zones.

Set a deadline. Do the most unpleasant part first. Make a game out of it. Build in a reward.

Control your life by controlling your time: Part 1

What is time? What a silly philosophical question, right? Most of us would rather ask for the time than ponder it’s existence and meaning. Think of time like this: The train does not arrive at the station at 7:00PM, the train arrives at the station at the same moment the little hand reaches seven. The basic element of time is an event. Controlling your life means controlling your time aka the set of events in your life.

What’s the best example of someone who is out of control? A drug addict. They are no longer in control of their lives and are only reacting to their addiction, and the events surrounding their poor lifestyle. The best example of someone who is in complete control of their professional environments? A symphony conductor. Which a flick of a baton, an entire group of people respond and perform. Events fall into a control continuum of things we have control over and things we don’t.

control-continuum

What are some events in which you have no control? The sunrise, tornadoes, the World Series, your height, your boss. How do you feel when you face events that you can’t control? Stressful, angry, fearful, and frustrated most likely..

Perhaps you’ve tried a dance class. For me, dancing is an out-of-control experience. When I joined my first class, I could not control my dance moves at first. Whenever I tried to imitate the other performers in the group, my body would do flail, twist, flop, or do something completely different, or sometimes nothing at all because of complete bewilderment! I must have control over how we can move our body, right?  But without practice I didn’t at first.

There is a surprising amount that we can control.control-of-events

Rate these events from 1-5 with 5 being the MOST in control. How would you describe the feeling when take control of the events that you have control over? Happy, exhilarated, powerful, confident, maybe even surprised most likely. Focusing on event control makes all the difference.

Part of the reason some of us fail to take control rests upon the conditioning we’ve been raised to accept. Take a circus elephant. These massive 5 ton animals are able to be bound and constrained by a silly rope attached to a stake. When the elephants are young, they believed they couldn’t move freely. The tethers in their minds were stronger than any chain or rope.

There are events we can’t control, but believe we can, and there are events we can control, but believe we can’t.

What you can do in 15 minutes everyday that will surprise you

We all know the feeling of having unchecked boxes on our to-do list. If only we could will these tasks into completing themselves, then we would be happier and have more clarity during our day. I want to place grave emphasis on the weight we feel on our shoulders when our productivity suffers. The first step to becoming more fulfilled is imagining this weight being taken off. Completely. Now forget thinking in numerical steps and forget everything you know about motivation and take 10 seconds to tell yourself what the outcome is. Why on earth are you doing these tasks, and how can you benefit from them? GO!

*No cheating*

1 Mississippi

2 Mississippi

3 Mississippi

etc. . .

Once you have a concrete idea for the purpose of each task, the process to complete them will develop almost automatically.

Now what about those wondrous fifteen minutes I alluded to in the introduction sentence? Fifteen minutes is not much time, right? Wrong. Any and every increment of time has value, and extracting 900 seconds their fullest potential will make your day extremely useful.

1. Try the Scientific Seven Minute Workout. Can you really get a good workout in just seven minutes? According to the New York Times, yes, you can. The Seven Minute Workout is backed by research, and it consists of 12 exercises performed in rapid succession.7-minute scientific workout

Going through all 12 exercises takes only 7 minutes, and all you need is your own body weight and a chair. Follow along with the video below (I tried it; it’s hard, but doable):

2. Meditate. Meditating is easier than you think. Although most people equate meditation with sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop for hours on end, all you need is a comfortable chair, a quiet space, and a few minutes.

Here’s an easy ten minute guided meditation you can follow along with in order to get started:

3. Read a Book for 15 Minutes. Here are some scary statistics:

  • Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
  • 51 percent of the American population never reads a book more than 400 pages long after they complete their formal education.
  • The average American watches 32 hours of TV every week.

There are many, many more I can list; however, I kept things short and simple. So what’s your excuse? Let’s crush it today maximize our time for 900 seconds!