Could Journaling be the Answer to Everything?
I just stared at the blank page—frozen. Energy and motivation? Gone.
Having ten thousand things on my to-do list didn’t seem to be a motivator for some reason. Why the hell not?
This was early 2017. I was finishing up the work on my productivity journal, the ultimate method to prioritize, monitor and track progress on objectives every single day.
And it worked—most days.
So, why was I just sitting at my desk staring at the page, doing nothing?
How can I pitch a productivity journal when some days I feel like the lobotomy was successful? Why can’t we FORCE ourselves to be productive? Where’s my self discipline when I need it?
Something was Missing
Flashback to 2016, I noticed a friend using one of the popular journaling products. He explained how it worked. It didn’t seem all that practical to me.
In fact, he was modifying it to make it usable.
I searched and found several other massively popular journals; none of them seemed to fit my definition of what a journal should include.
Most of them contained elements of defining one’s purpose in life, how to balance work and family, gratitude along with some nitty gritty scheduling calendars and tasks lists.
Of course, I had my own hodge-podge of a system—developed over many years in various jobs. Not perfect, but it worked well enough.
I assumed there were lots of people like me, that wanted to have a great journaling/planning system and weren’t satisfied with what’s available.
So, I decided to clean-up my imperfect system and make it a product, believing this would only take 2-3 months.
Woo Hoo! I’m sure this will be a massive success.
(At this stage of a new project I’m typically filled with wild optimism that is later crushed like an empty soda can.)
I wasn’t going to include any fluff in my journal. It was all about productivity; nothing about my ultimate WHY in life, the quality of my Journey, the plant or animal I most resemble, or how I align to the vibrations of the universe.
None of that crap – just the hard facts of what needs to get done. I would make the journal my daily habit for success.
But, now I’m just sitting here looking at the blank pages of my productivity journal. Because . . .
- Temporary Burnout?
- Missing My Why?
- Too Many Carbs for Breakfast?
- Something Else Entirely?
I needed a 5-hour drink for my brain, my psyche, my ego or id.
That’s when I decided to create a companion to the productivity journal.
It would nurture the right-sided nature of my brain, the creative, intuitive, artistic, whimsical, and illogical side. It would touch the areas some of the other journals addressed but in a unique way; My Way.
I was all about gaining clarity.
For this right-brain type of approach, it needed to be open ended. But, not too much. (not just a freaking blank sheet of white paper).
It needs enough structure to keep a person’s focus, but open-ended enough to accommodate the huge variety of challenges that each of us face every day.
So, The Clarity Journal is a series of questions. Simply answering the questions each morning leads down a path of self-discovery and awareness.
Some days it takes 5 minutes to complete the questions—other days 30 minutes.
The time required is totally dependent on the individual and what needs to be addressed. Either way, it needs to be a daily habit.
Can Journaling Make a Difference?
HELL – YES
The Clarity Journal is firmly entrenched into my morning habit routine. I don’t even think about starting a day without it.
I’ve actually journaled off-and-on for years. But, never with a structure of my own design.
I typically journaled when I needed to focus on a difficult decision. Focusing for more than a few minutes is a challenge. The urge to check email, Facebook or Twitter is constant, they are intentionally designed to be addictive. Even without those distractions, the monkey mind jumps all over the place.
The mechanical act of writing seems to reign in this restless nature. The “mechanical” part can be pen, pencil, or keyboard. The pen on paper works best for me, but I also keyboard when the thoughts are coming too fast to write down.
The benefits of journaling have been well documented, from lay practitioners to academics. James Pennebaker, Social Psychologist at UT Austin, has studied both the mental and physiological benefits. Pennebaker Study
The next time you’re faced with a problem at work (actually—any aspect of life) and the solution isn’t obvious, try journaling about the issue and possible courses of action. A little self discipline is required to make it a habit. But, it will clarify your thoughts and reveals a solution that’s better than you imagined.
So, How is a Clarity Journal Different?
There are lots of journaling techniques, from blank sheets of paper to highly structured, each has its benefits.
I have NOT and WILL NOT examine the top 100 journaling approaches.
Curating every relevant publication on a topic is a popular approach. But, honestly, to evaluate 100 different approaches to journaling would require testing each method for a few weeks or months. That means MY journal might be complete in a few years.
That would actually never happen because I would flame-out well before finishing.
Besides, I didn’t want to curate – I wanted to CREATE.
It’s not that I’m averse to research. On many topics, I’ve found myself totally immersed down a rabbit hole. Admittedly, these are usually off-topic. Then, at the end of a week, I’ll wonder why there was no progress toward my primary objectives.
Bottom line, my approach was developed in response to my own situation. It’s intended to avoid those days when I look at my list and go into zombie mode. Better yet, it’s intended to ensure I start the day with energy, hope, and enthusiasm.
It’s an approach I believe can work for anyone, but especially if you’re in a work-at-home mode.
- Digital Nomad
Basically, anyone who works for themselves and has to function as their own boss.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Clarity Journal, you can start with my free 14-Day Clarity Challenge.
This challenge is about habits because habits are one of the foundations of The Clarity Journal approach. If you can master your habit routines, that’s a massive step forward. And, it’s not that complicated, honestly.
But, don’t confuse simplicity with ease. Getting down to a 7-minute mile is simple. You can find all sorts of training plans to help you improve day-by-day, week-by-week. Simple, yes. But, not easy to get up a 5 AM every day and run.
The 14-Day Clarity Challenge is delivered to your Inbox every day. It gives you a tip, advice and an assignment. By the end of the 14 days, you’ll be well on your way to mastering your habits. Think of it as your personal habit coach delivered via eMail.
And, if you have any questions. I’ll be glad to reply.
The Clarity Journal was refined over a period of many months of trial and error. But, it’s really a culmination of things I’ve learned from decades of practical experience in a wide variety of roles.
If you want to know more about my journey, you’ll find it here.