There's an old proverb which says “What can be measured, can be managed”.
In other words, if you can measure the results of something, you can adjust, improve and adapt to make it better.
Simple, but profound, right?
Of course, in order to ‘measure' something, you really need to closely ‘monitor' it.
Are YOU monitoring your progress and your journey through life?
I mean, I know you're aware of what's going on in your life… because it's happening to YOU. You're THERE, when it happens, right?
But are you really, truly AWARE of what's going on?
In my experience, most people really aren't.
Most people tend to think about the ‘bigger picture' of their life.
- what ‘stage' of life they are in.
- the state of their relationships.
- their financial condition.
- how happy and fulfilled they are.
Those things are the product and the result of the millions of smaller things that happen every day.
The smaller things which happen around us and to us, but we actually pay a lot less (if any!) attention to.
It's easy for you to stop and think “I wish I was happier” or “I wish I was more confident”, but it's really difficult to work out HOW to change it.
Well, because thats the ‘big picture' stuff. The gigantic struggles in life.
If you think about life from THAT perspective, then you're trying to win the war, rather than the small individual battles.
Life goes by SO quickly, doesn't it. You probably don't realise it, but you actually DO a lot of stuff, every single day.
And you THINK (both consciously and unconsciously) even MORE stuff, every single day.
So much stuff, in fact, that it all mounds up and, quite before you know it, you can't break everything that is happening in your life into the individual causes, influences or factors.
Whether you are just starting your journey of personal development and self-improvement, or it's something that you've been pursuing for a while now, I strongly recommend that you start a daily ‘journal'.
I was mega-cynical about this for a really long time, but it's something that I started a few months ago, and it's having a profound effect on my life.
I LOVE to write. I really enjoy it, actually… which is helpful when it comes to blogging here at Evolution Hacks.
That said, I've always written for the public and never for myself.
But I'd heard about this idea of journalling and decided to give it a crack.
Here's how it works:
You need to get yourself a nice notebook.
Putting physical pen to physical paper is generally better for this, although there are some cool apps available for iPhone/iPad if you'd prefer to do that way (I recommend DayOne).
Try to find a notebook that you feel ‘connected' to. I realise, instantly, that sounds a little too spiritual and wanky for my style, but just go with me on this.
Look around for something that you really feel comfortable with, in terms of it's style, size and look. The idea is that you want to try and carry this with you, everywhere that you go.
I have a rather delightful ‘man-bag' which travels nearly everywhere with me, containing my Macbook, a couple of books that I'm reading and my trusty journal.
I'm sure you've heard of 10 year old girls writing ‘Dear Diary' entries about the boys at school they think are ‘dreamy' and various other secrets?
I guess it's like a grown-up version of that.
Your journal is your daily opportunity to vent and get to grips with how you feel about your life, and the various things in it.
I tend to wake up at around 5.30am, have a quick freshen up and then head to an outdoor fitness club for 6am. I get home at about 7.15am.
Then, I spend 5 minutes thinking quietly about my life, thoughts and feelings, followed by another 10 minutes writing in my journal, before a shower and clean breakfast.
There's NO filter. NO editing. I just let my mind run free and my hand follows it, writing down everything that comes into my head.
It's such a feeling of freedom and liberation.
Remember those ‘flick books' that you had as a kid? With the little stickman who would do funny things as you fire through the pages?
Your journal becomes a bit like that. It gives you the ability to look back over everything you've done, where you've been and see how you've improved (or not, as the case may be).
This really helps you to keep track of exactly where you are in your life and how you're progressing… so that you keep focus on driving forward.
Have you ever watched another month zoom by and thought, ‘Fuck! Where did that go?'.
Journalling can't make time stand still, or give you more than 24 hours in a day, but it CAN help you to see what you're achieving on a daily basis and do something about improving it.
That gives you a LOT more time to stop, take stock and assess what's going on in your life and in your mind. It's so much easier to process everything that is happening around you and really understand it more.
Writing ANYTHING down helps you to really clarify how you feel about it and come to terms with the stuff that is more difficult to accept.
When you write things down, you have to CONSCIOUSLY make an effort to put your thoughts into meaningful words and think about things in a way that your general thought processes don't.
In short, journalling helps to bring context and meaning to what is going on in your life, at the same time as keeping track of your progress (or lack of progress).
So many people do ‘goal setting' and planning for the future and the ‘unknown', but people rarely stop and retrospectively look at where they have been and what they have come from.
Doing it, actually HELPS your ability to push forward in life.
HOW do you journal?
Well that's up to you.
There's no rights and no wrongs.
It's YOUR personal endeavour, so you can do whatever feels right.
The key is just to take time to yourself to pay attention to your feelings, activities, passions and thoughts, and put them into words on a page.
Let's say that you take this and run with it, over the course of the next year.
You have a fully documented history of what you were doing and how you were feeling, every day, for the previous year.
You can look at where you were, in your life, a year ago… where you are now – and how you got here.
It's SO powerful and, the more you do it, the easier it becomes to reflect on the past and project into the future, to help drive forward the lifestyle that you're looking for.
Remember, if you want to improve your life, you need to manage it.
What can be measured can be managed, and to measure it, you need to monitor it.
Rob J. Temple
PS. Do you journal? Are you going to start?
Leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of this blog post and what YOU have found effective for your journalling efforts.