One Day At A Time
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Do you feel like you’re playing catch up? With work at the office, the kids’ activities, social meet-ups and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Every time you scroll down your social media feed, you somehow feel like everyone else is ahead of you and it is just overwhelming.
I used to believe that working long hard hours, being relentless, and never slowing down would almost always guarantee success. The only thing it did guarantee was a constant state of feeling tired, overworked, frustrated and eventually depressed. After many hours of reflection, I came to the realisation that one of the fundamental reasons I had ended up this way was the lack of clarity I had on who I was, who I wanted to be, and what my idea of “success” was!
As an individual who constantly strives towards continuous improvement in areas that matter to me, journaling is one of the many tools I have grown profoundly fond of during my journey towards becoming the best version of myself; a more relaxed, focused, and purpose-driven individual who is grateful no matter what the situation. It even helped me make a complete shift in careers, from an employee of a multinational FMCG company to an entrepreneur and coach in the health and wellness industry.
It doesn't surprise me that some of the world's leading High Performance Coaches, such as Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma all use and recommend journaling as a powerful tool to deepen mental clarity. Even medical professionals such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapists (CBT), Nutritionists, and many more, utilise journaling as a tool to help their patients/clients deepen their awareness and understanding on patterns that promote or inhibit their progress.
So what exactly is journaling? Over time, just like our bedrooms, our minds which were once spick and span, begin to get dusty, cluttered and unpleasant. Our minds, much like our bedrooms once again, need a clean up. We must clear out the unwanted, polish the relevant, and add in what is beneficial. Journaling is a tool that facilitates precisely this!
If we were asked “What did you have for breakfast seven days ago?” how accurate do you think our answer would be? Similarly, a series of incidents that has led to a life-altering event, or an outcome that brought you great joy, pain, contentment or grief, begins to become a distant, inaccurate memory as time passes by. Additionally, the sheer volume, variety and velocity of external influence on our memories, thoughts and behaviour from family, work, social media, the news, and so on only further complicate the accuracy and clarity of our minds! How then can we replicate the positive, or avoid negative emotions/actions/decisions/thought patterns to leverage the advantage that experience can give us towards leading a better life?
Dr. Loren Frank Professor of Psychology at the University of California carried out an experiment which concluded that as humans go through the course of the day, our minds record its’ series of experiences and events. It is only once we slow down and reflect upon these experiences that we begin to make logical sense of them. By journaling, we give ourselves that opportunity to slow down, reflect and process. We can then use that increased clarity to make better decisions, which lead to better outcomes, invariably resulting in better lives!
Here are a few tips that helped me leverage the power of journaling;
Start. Seriously! It doesn’t have to be perfect, just start! Our obsession for obtaining all the answers before beginning almost always hinders our progress. Life in itself is a journey. The reality is that we are all figuring it out. The more we learn, the clearer the picture gets. No one has, or ever will, know everything, so why stress so much?
Keep it simple
We don’t need a hand-crafted, tailor-made journal to start journaling. Neither do we need a limited edition Omas Phoenix Platinum Fountain pen. Any pen and paper would do. There is a significant amount of research that confirms that a larger number of areas in our brains are active when we use pen and paper as opposed to digital devices. But if you feel that you are more likely to get started and continue journaling if you use your digital device, then go ahead.
Write honestly and free of judgment
Here’s the thing. Our journal is for our eyes only. So how pretty our handwriting is, and how perfect our grammar or spellings are, are not important! Okay, maybe the grammar and spellings are, but the point is, the fear of making mistakes or being judged shouldn't prevent you from starting. We don’t get graded or win any awards for our journals, so let's relax. The whole idea of putting our thoughts in its raw form to pen and paper is so that we realise how absurd or amazing some of it is!
Don't live to journal
Getting lost in the beauty or misery of our own thoughts can be dangerously addictive. The objective of journaling is to use it as a tool to find clarity. If you find yourself unable to get on with your day, or you spend more time journaling than actually taking action in your life, you may have developed an addiction. Make sure you journal as and when it is needed. Maybe ten minutes a day, a few hours a week, once a month, or however frequently you find it necessary.
Write down your goals and what you are grateful for
For me, this is how I begin and end my journaling. It helps me take decisions that move me towards my goals everyday, and keeps me grateful for all the blessings in my life.
As a Muslim, I have one purpose in my life; to serve my Creator. I conveniently made the excuse of “needing to hustle” as a reason to drift away from my objective, and lose sight of its true meaning. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, my personal favourite when it comes to role models, was one who had much clarity, which helped him continuously make decisions that moved him closer to his purpose in life. Apart from prayer and honest, open conversations with my Creator, journaling was a tool that helped me slow down and reflect on that principle.
The bottom line is, whoever you are and wherever you are in life, journaling is a free and easy-to-use tool that can elevate your life and take you to the next level. And if it isn't this awesome, amazing, life-changing experience, at best, you would only have lost a bit of ink and paper; so why not give it a try?
-An individual who is on a mission to educate and empower people to become the best versions of themselves.
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACH
CO - FOUNDER KAIZEN FITNESS (PVT) LTD EMPOWERMENT SPEAKER