by Stuart McAleese
As we start any new chapter in life, I want to focus on the skills that are essential for taking control of your life, your future, and your ultimate success - the things that automatically pull you to your goals together. Funny thing is, usually this begins with something as mundane as a Personal Journal.
Jim Rohn has said that his three most valuable possessions are his family, his library, and his journals, because if he lost everything else, but had his books, his notes, and the support of his family, he could start over and build everything again.
I have kept journals for almost 20 years, and they are truly one of my most valuable possessions. They summarize my life, my successes and failures, my pains and my joys. Journaling is a process of stimulating the mind, body and heart and then capturing the resulting thoughts, sensations and inspirations on paper or disk so we can give them more attention, reflection and meaning.
Different journaling tools and exercises encourage us to think in different ways. Once we capture our thoughts on paper, we can explore different sides of our nature. We can identify beliefs that hold us back. We can glimpse our potential and then monitor ourselves realizing it. We can discover insights, creativity and wisdom we didn't know we had. We have all the wisdom we need inside of us already. Journaling gives us the power to draw it out.
Perhaps, most importantly, my journals contain my vision and they keep me on track. I believe a journal is the essential first step to success because anyone can do it. Keeping track of your ideas, writing down your dreams and noting your progress is so basic that anyone who "doesn't have time" is probably kidding themselves. Show me a person's journal, and I can tell you how serious they are about their future. One of the most frequent questions I receive is "How do I start a journal?" The simplest answer is that any diary, notebook or scrap of paper is better than nothing. Just begin!
Here are a few things that can help make your Personal Journal as effective, powerful, easy and focused as possible:
1. Keep it close. To be effective, your journal must be honest, and you may not want other people reading it, so keep it safe. Keep it handy so you can write whenever thoughts, ideas or opportunities present themselves. Plan to record what's important to you - not the minor details of your schedule, but the ideas that catch your imagination.
2. Keep it simple. Some folks buy "blank books", and Jim Rohn uses an expensive, leather book that symbolizes the value of his journal. Many people use spiral notebooks, or their computers. Personally, I use ring binders so I can easily insert cards and letters, articles, and notes that I've jotted in restaurants or airplanes. Use what works for you.
3. Keep it organized. I recommend having a specific section for your goals, so you can review them often. In my ring binder, I use separator tabs to create several distinct sections. Whatever works for you is the right system, but organize it so you can find your notes and review them often.
4. Keep it inspiring. Some people use their journals as a place to whine and complain. Don't do that! Your journal is not a place for tears. It is a place of dreams, of challenge and inspiration. Use quotes, humor or decorate it with pictures, but remember - your journal is about designing your future. Write about what you want, not what you fear. Of course, you should note your mistakes or disappointments so you can learn from them. But this is not a diary of failures. You are creating the blueprints of success, so keep it positive.
5. Keep it full. Include a wide variety of dreams. I use separate sections for financial goals, personal goals, business plans, fitness goals, and notes from all over, right in my personal journal. Any time I want to be inspired, I pick up my journal and there are so many ideas and possibilities, I can't help but be compelled to action! Your journal should call to you in the same way.
6. Keep it daily. The more you write, the more valuable your journal will become. Over time, journals grow and take on a life of their own. Ideas mingle and give birth to new ideas. Last year's dreams become this year's achievements, and inspire bigger and better dreams for next year. If you forget for a while, don't give up. Just dust it off, and start again. Challenge yourself to write each day.
The path from "here" to "there" always begins with a description of where you want to go and a plan for getting there. Your journal is where you draw your maps, clarify your dreams, sort your priorities and create the future. Successful people have always kept journals, from Henry Thoreau and Emily Dickinson, to Jim Rohn and Annie Dillard. Thomas Edison left over 1200 notebooks when he died, and the world is (literally) a brighter place because of it.
Document your own inventiveness and guarantee your future success by keeping notes in your Personal Journal.