For years I heard about people journaling but didn’t really understand what the big deal was. I thought journaling wasn’t for me and always just put it off as one of those things that I just didn’t do. Fast forward a few years and today journaling is one of the most important parts of my day and has profoundly changed my life.
In this post:
- I Share my story of journaling
- Give you an insight on what is in my actual journal
- Help you understand why you need to journal and what makes it so powerful
- Show you how journaling can help you physically
- Give you my #1 reason for journaling
- My 5 tips on how to get started
Robin Sharma is a huge inspiration to me. I have been following his work for well over 10 years. In fact, my personal growth journey started with Robin Sharma. I remember the exact moment I first found his book, The Greatness Guide like it was yesterday. It’s something that I will never forget. Robin is big on Journaling and knows the importance of putting pen to paper in order to gain clarity. A lot of my daily and weekly rituals stem from his work.
Journaling is something that I have been doing most of my life, as early as 14, but it wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started doing it on a more serious level. Without a doubt it has had the biggest impact on my life out of any form of personal growth that I have done. Journaling is one of my favorite things to do in my spare time and I usually do it first thing in the morning or it happens periodically throughout the day. I always say that I would rather loose my laptop then any one of my journals. See if a journal gets lost, it’s gone forever. I can’t zip over to an Apple store and purchase the journal of Emeka Ossai from 2016, no matter how much money I have. My journals are just that, priceless.
I wasn’t always into journaling though. There was a time when I didn’t write in them for years. I just kinda grew up and forgot about it. I guess it was during the stage of my life where personal growth wasn’t a priority and the thought of journaling was looked down on by my group of friends at the time. I wanted to be cool, I wanted to fit in, that is what was important back then and Journaling was for girls…I am so glad that I grew up and found out that you can do lots of things ‘girls’ do.
I have about 7 or 8 full journals that span across the last 10 years of my life. They are my pride and joy. They (aside from my family) are my most prized possessions. If the house was going to burn down, I would come running out with only my journals in hand. They are that important. I want my children to read these long after I have moved on, to get a good sense of what their father was like. Inside are all my thoughts and ideas that have shaped the person that I am today. One of my favorite things is to go back through my old journals and read about the person that I was back then. What were my thoughts, feelings, emotions and what my life was like back in the day. Journaling lets you travel back in time to relive some of your life’s most precious moments.
What is in my journal?
Anything and everything. For me I have mostly words, no pictures. I have tried to put pictures in my journal a few years ago, but I prefer to have pictures on my dream wall or in my dream book instead. Is my journal a diary? No, it’s a journal. What is the difference? I call mine a journal and not a diary. Really I think that is the only difference. I don’t start my entries as, “Dear Journal” I just write and see where it goes.
My journals are filled with my thoughts and feelings on what I was going through at certain moments throughout my life. I can flip to any page and tell you about what my life was like back then. There’s no better way to relive moments of the past then through your own words.
The day that I decided to marry my wife, its in my journal. I remember what I was thinking about, how the hotel room smelled and where I was sitting in the room. I can relive the emotions that I was feeling at the time and the sense of joy and fulfillment that came over me when I made that commitment to marry her. Those are the moments that make journaling so worth it.
I also have some of my biggest personal struggles in my journals. When it came time to close down and move on from another business, I journaled about it first. Journaling helps your true feelings and thoughts come out. It helps the truth show up on paper. Whenever I am frustrated or can’t make a clear decision, I journal about it. 100% of the time it helps. My journal is my most trusted advisor. It tells me exactly what I am truly thinking and feeling 100% of the time.
Some days I reflect on the previous day, what went well and what could have gone better. Some days I need to vent and my journal is a perfect place for that. Other days I will write what I am most grateful and thankful for in life. Sometimes I list people I want to connect with, other times I just write random thoughts down. There is no right or wrong way. You just write and overtime you will develop your own way of journaling.
How do you Journal?
There is no right or wrong way to journal. Everyone is going to journal differently. For me journaling constantly changes over the years. Some days I focus on gratitude and some days I just need to write down what is going on in life. I can tell you for certain, to start all you have to do is get a journal (a book with blank paper in it, don’t over complicate it) a pen and start writing. It doesn’t really matter what you write about, you will figure that out later. Write about yesterday and what happened, what you did today and what you are looking forward to tomorrow. By just taking a mental note and putting it on paper you stir a creative part in your brain that is itching to wake up. Journaling gets easier the more you do it, because it becomes a part of you.
What is the point and why is it so powerful?
Journaling allows your to deconstruct your life. Taking time to go through and deconstruct moments in your life, only brings you more valuable moments later in life. When things go well for me, I write them down. I want to know why did they go well, what was I doing that made them go so well? The opposite is true too when things don’t go well, I don’t see them as failures but as lessons to learn from. Your journal can be your greatest teacher. By writing down what I did or where I went wrong, I can reflect and figure out how I can do better the next time. There’s nothing more devastating in life than making the same mistakes over and over again. Journaling helps you see your flaws and work on them so you can become a better person.
What will journaling do for you physically?
When I started Journaling I wasn’t aware of any physical benefits that might come from it. By I have come to learn that there are a few that have been very helpful over the years.
Journaling helps boost your memory and can strengthen your self-confidence. It also tends to build self-discipline along with many other positive benefits.
When I am facing a tough decision, I tend to journal about it one day and come back to it the next. More often than not, I have found a way to solve my problem. Journaling breeds clarity, and clarity breeds mastery. Most times in life we already have the answers, but there is so much noise going on around us that we need to take a moment and put our thoughts on paper and shut everything else out. I find when doing this even the most complicated problems often have very simple answers. As humans, we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. By writing down and seeing our thoughts on paper, it helps us realize that we have the answers, we just needed to separate them from all the noise inside our heads.
Are you looking for more confidence?
One of my favorite things to do is to write down what I want to happen in my life. This can be anything from events I want to attend, to how I want to feel on certain days, to my ideal body type. I tend to be very detailed when doing this and the reason is simple. If you can take your thoughts and put them on paper with great detail, you are much more likely to accomplish your goals. As great as the human mind is, it is also our greatest enemy. I find that by taking my ideas for the future and putting them on paper it makes them much easier to visualize and thus gives me the confidence to take the small steps necessary to completing them. This is a tactic that I have been doing for years. I can reread my old journals and find dates of when I wrote down that I would one day accomplish something and then later read the entries of when I accomplished that exact goal. Powerful. I remember dreaming of flying my family back to Nigeria and I wrote about it in my journal back in 2007. In October of 2010 I was writing in my journal on the way to the airport, with my dad and my brother mere hours before our flight to Nigeria. It all happened exactly as I imagined it, exactly as I wrote about it.
The #1 reason I journal and why you should too.
My biggest reason for Journaling is it allows you to record your remarkable life. (JA being born) As you get older your memory tends to fade. One of the saddest things in life is not being able to remember the most important and remarkable times in your life. Journaling lets you capture those moments just like a photograph. The difference? When you go back and read your journal, you see the way your wrote, the other notes on that page, it allows your brain to go into a state that photographs don’t. When I look back at my journals from years ago, when I read a passage, I remember exactly where I was when I wrote it, how I felt and what was going through my head as I put those thoughts on paper.
When my daughter was about to be born. After I changed into my scrubs, I was in the prep area where the doctors scrub in. They were getting themselves prepared and I was on my phone using Evernote (my journal when I don’t have my actual one with me) and I was documenting everything I could about that moment in time. How the doctors looked, what they were talking about, how I was feeling, as much as I could in order to hold onto that moment forever. When we look at the video of my daughter being born that is a very special moment, but there was also that moment right before where I was alone writing in my journal, preparing for her arrival. That is one of my most cherished moments in my life, a moment that I can go back to again and again and relive all those same feelings.
Here’s how to get started
Here are my tips on how to get started with journaling.
- Find the best journal you can afford. I use a brand called Winnable. They are a Canadian brand only sold in Canada. I have tried others but for me this one feels right. Being in Mexico I have to order and then ship my latest journals all the way from Canada. Was it expensive? Compared to the cost of not writing in my journal and not recording my life’s most precious moments, not at all.
- Commit to writing in it for 7 days.
- Go back and reflect on your entries. What did you learn, how was your week? What could you change for this coming week.
- Commit to 7 more days of writing daily
- Don’t hold back, write honestly.