18 October 2011

The power of Journaling to stay focussed.


Reaching a goal is simple but not easy.

It's simple to set a goal and get excited about it.  It's not so easy to stay focussed and motivated to see the goal through to fruition.  There are so many things vying for our time and attention every single day.

You set a goal to stop spending to get rid of your insane credit card bill.  And then the most incredible pair of stunning heels beckons from the shop window, enticing you away from your clear intention.  And before you know it, you're back up to your limit with the quick swipe of your card.  And you were only at the shops to buy milk!

Stopping ourselves from getting distracted is the ultimate discipline.  Or is it?

We can't stop ourselves from living life.  Going to the shops for the bread and milk is part of it.  Trying to remove all distractions is an impossibility.  Instead, it's all about managing what's going on in your life AND staying true to what you want to get done.

The secret weapon is Journalling.  Regularly recording your actions helps you to map out the steps taken towards your target.  When you get distracted, reading through your progress can help you to re-align and get back on track.

3 reasons Journalling is a great strategy to keep you focussed:
  1. We forget our good ideas.  On a daily basis you have a gazillion great ideas, many of which if followed through, could turbo-charge the progression toward your goal.  If you simply let them flit in and out of your mind, you tend to forget them in amongst the daily grind. Capturing them daily enables you to review and add these gems to your game plan.  (I get amazed reading back through my journal from time to time, to see just how many terrific ideas I've had and forgotten).  It's not the lack of good ideas that's the problem.  It's remembering them.  Your journal will become a gold mine over time.
  2. We get bored with the logical.  Creating and following a formal action plan towards your goal is a left-brain, structured activity, which can be stifling and limiting for the more creative souls.  Journaling enables you to free flow your imagination, allowing your creative mind to wander and add a new level of genius (and excitement) to what you’re doing.  Your subconscious mind will often think of ways to help you to your goal, outside of what’s recorded on your formal plan.  And when these bubble up to the conscious mind, capture them.  
  3. We're good at making excuses. Journalling helps you to be self-accountable by painting a solid picture of what you are doing and when. It's all too easy to let days slip by without doing anything towards your goal.  You're busy, right?  Your journal is not quite as forgiving!  Too many days in a row of non-activity shouts out that you are not focussed, and forces you to reflect on where you're at and how committed you really are.  And your journal will show trends as to when you're most focussed, and when you're not. Journalling helps you to be honest with yourself.  Only then, can you make real progress towards your goals.
If you're keen to have a go at Journalling your way to success at your next goal, here are the Rules (you can make your own up, but you've got to start somewhere, so you may as well try mine):
  • Commit to journalling daily.  Quantity doesn't matter, but regularity does! 
  • Commit to taking a minimum of one action a day toward your goal.  It doesn't have to be monumental every day, but it does need to be a step forward.  Recording your actions taken helps you to see your progress, and when you're most active and motivated.  
  • Record your thoughts and feelings for the day.  Your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings drive your actions.  It's helpful to view what's going on in your mental engine room.
  • For any negative thoughts, cross it through and replace it with a more positive frame.  It's easier to do this on paper than in your head. You're not going to feel on fire every day - there's always an ebb and flow, but it's important to catch the draining thoughts before they take hold for too many days, and get them in check. 
  • Record your 'In gratitude' thoughts.  Thinking of what to be grateful for that day can be a powerful calming force.  It's not always about pushing forward and driving yourself toward your goal.  Reflecting on what is working and great in your life, helps you to be happy in the 'now'.
Why not have a go at journalling. It can help clear your mental clutter and allow you to see just how much you ARE accomplishing on a daily basis.  I'm onto Book 17.  Signing off to journal...