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High Performance Journaling: How To Accelerate Your Success

Have you ever heard the statement “what you focus on expands”? There are many examples of this in our daily lives. For example, if you wake up feeling sad and blue, the day usually serves up many incidents to make you feel even worse. Not good for boosting performance, is it?

One way to break that cycle and accelerate your success is by engaging in what we call high performance journaling, a practice that captures your accomplishments and fuels you to achieve so much more. Eager to learn more? Read on!

What is Journaling and why is it Important?

Different people define journaling in different ways, and to keep it simple, let us regard it as a habit of writing down one’s feelings, thoughts, ambitions and so on. It is a habit, meaning that you do it on a regular basis (daily, for example).

Journaling is primarily intended for your own private consumption, so no other person is expected to read what you have penned down.

The most important words that you will ever write are those that no one else will ever read. Read that sentence again. What you write in your journal is some of the most impactful writing that you will ever come across because it helps you get clarity on ideas running around in your head.

Journaling can also reduce stress, in addition to helping you to track your progress towards a defined goal. While you journal, you come face to face with who you really are, and this enables you to identify what is going well and what you need to improve or change. This is what makes journaling the most important writing you will ever come across.

The 3-Question Journaling Method

There are as many possible ways to journal as there are people out there, but at Performance Coach University, we recommend the following 3-Question Journaling approach as an actionable way to accelerate your success.

  • What was GREAT about today?

Spend some time writing down 3-5 things that stood out for you as accomplishments or positive experiences on that day. The purpose of writing these down is to nurture positivity within you and set you up to work towards and expect more positive outcomes or experiences.

You may not know this, but human beings are wired to spot and respond to negativity. It is called the negativity bias, and it was hardwired into our ancestors in order to make them quickly spot threats to their life, like snakes or wild animals.

Negativity bias is the reason why the news is always full of stories on disasters, crises and other negative events. Good news rarely dominates the media for long, but bad news does.

By journaling about what was great about your day, you break this negativity bias pattern and make your senses more aware and discerning of positives.

  • What did I LOVE about this day?

This question prompts you to go a step further than simply pointing out what was great. You go deeper into writing about what you specifically loved about some of the great things that happened in the course of the day.

By doing so, you recall all the positive feelings that coursed through you while you had those great experiences. In the process, your mind and body will re-live that experience, and “happy biochemicals” like endorphins will be released, giving you a boost and helping you to relax.

The subconscious mind can then get to work putting together a plan to bring even more positive experiences into your life so that you can keep enjoying those feel-good biochemicals coursing through your system. That is how a cycle of success after success can be strengthened.

  • What can I do BETTER tomorrow?

The third equally important question to answer while you journal is centered on identifying areas of improvement that you can start working on tomorrow, not next week or next year. Lasting success is built upon continuous improvement, and the third question in this journaling approach enables you to be intentional about what you want to improve upon based on your experience each day.

When you think through your day and identify what didn’t go so great, identify what needs to be improved and include this on your to-do list for the next day.

These incremental improvements may not seem like much when viewed individually, but they add up over time and result in major transformations. Those are the “atomic habits” that James Clear writes about.

Tips for Success with Journaling

  • Be honest

We mentioned that the most important words you will ever write are those ones that no one else will ever read. What makes those words in your journal so important and so impactful is because they are usually written from deep down within you. No one is going to read them, so there is no fear of judgment or a desire to impress.

Brutal honesty is crucial when journaling because it helps you to come face to face with who you really are, what you stand for, and where you would like to see yourself long term.

Be as honest as you can ever be while journaling, and you will reap rewards beyond what you had ever imagined to be possible.

  • Be consistent

It is important to be consistent with your journaling practice if you are to enjoy the benefits that it brings. Commit to journaling every evening and you will reap the rewards if you stick to this habit.

You can only track what you measure, so we also recommend that your consistency also includes the specific broad areas that you journal about. In the 3-question process discussed earlier, we recommend that your efforts be directed at just those areas captured in those questions.

Over time, you can see how you have been evolving with regard to those aspects which are the subject of your journaling. As the results pile up or as you see improvements, you will be encouraged to become more committed to journaling, and your success loop will be set.

  • Review your journal entries

Another important tip to get the best out of journaling is to review the entries you make on a regular basis. You want to accelerate your success, and not reviewing the material in your journal is counterproductive.

When you review what you wrote down, you get a glimpse into your thought processes and emotions, and then derive action steps to move you forward. You also keep your long term goals front and center in your mind, and that helps you to be clear about your priorities on a day to day basis.

The magic happens when you reflect upon what transpired during the day and then map out how things can be improved.

  • Ditch your laptop

We live in a digital world, and there are lots of digital tools that you can use to keep your journal. However, we recommend that you go the old school way and buy a notebook into which you will make your journal entries. This shouldn’t be restricted to a basic, dull notebook, but let it be a physical book that you write in.

Two key reasons back this recommendation. First, writing using a pen somehow slows you down and allows you to fully engage with your thoughts. This can’t happen if you are quickly typing a word document on your laptop or other device. We want your thoughts engaged, and physically holding a pen and writing on paper makes you fully involved in capturing your thoughts and reflecting upon them.

Secondly, digital devices are a source of distractions. You could be in the middle of making a journal entry and a pop-up alerts you about a message from a friend or workmate. Out goes your focused attention on journaling, and it will take time and effort to bring yourself back into the moment.

So, rather than think that you will fight the temptations or distractions, avoid them by sitting quietly away from all your gadgets while you journal.

Wrapping it up…

Journaling can make a profound difference in all areas of your life, be it your relationships, productivity at work, and even your health.

Start with the method discussed above and later tweak it to suit the different needs you have as you evolve. Document the magic as it happens!