✍️ The 3 Pillars of Personal Development Journaling

published9 months ago
2 min read

Happy New Year! 🎉

It’s the beginning of January. Hope springs eternal. This is the time of year when everyone is making promises to themselves about the radical changes they’re going to make in the next 12 months.

But you & I both know that for most, it’s not going to work (nearly 80% of all New Year’s resolutions don’t).

So instead of looking forward and setting arbitrary & emotional goals, I encourage you to commit to a habit that will help you look backward and build momentum based on your progress.

That’s right, I’m talking about journaling. But not like most people think of journaling. Personally, I don’t really care how upset I was about something my coworker or family member said 6 months ago. But I do like to see the progress I’m making in terms of my personal growth.

This type of journaling will help you by doing 3 specific things:

  1. Cause you to shift out of negative thinking about your situation
  2. Eliminate the things that are outside of your control so you can focus on the things that really matter
  3. Provide a record of your accomplishments and victories that you can use to measure your progress

In order to accomplish these objectives though, your journaling workflow has to address the 3 Pillars of Journaling.

The first pillar is gratitude. Did you know that implementing a gratitude practice into your journaling habit can actually make you up to 25% happier? What’s really interesting about gratitude to me is the fact that it is physically impossible to feel anger or fear when you’re grateful. Sounds crazy, but it’s true! The next time you are in a negative mindset and upset about things that may be going wrong, try verbalizing gratitude for the things that are going right and watch all the anger and resentment melts away. Gratitude is crazy powerful.

The second pillar is daily action. Your journal is the perfect place to track the daily action you take that leads to the personal growth you want to achieve, but it’s important to disconnect from the outcome. Don’t track action in an attempt to achieve a goal, but focus on the things that if done consistently will get you where you want to go. For example, in the book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about the power of identity-based habits. If you want to write a book, the way to do it not to set a goal of writing a book - it’s to self-identify as a writer. And what does a writer do? They write. So if you want to become a writer, show up everyday and write.

The third pillar is reflection. This is where we process what has happened throughout the day so that we can turn the page start fresh tomorrow. Reflecting gives your brain permission to let go of what has happened by transferring the record of what happened into your journal. This helps your brain be free to focus on the things that really matter and see things the way they really are.

As you start the new year, I encourage you think about your own journaling habit. It’s by far the single habit that has contributed more to my personal growth and development than any other.

Here’s to a great 2023,

— Mike

P.S. If you could use a little help crafting your journaling workflow, I just updated and expanded my Journaling Bootcamp video course. It’s available as a free update for those who purchased the previous version, but is also $10 off for launch week ($27 instead of $37) via the Faith-Based Productivity Circle community here if you’re interested.

Practical PKM

A weekly newsletter where I help people apply values-based productivity principles and systems, primarily using Obsidian. Subscribe if you want to make more of your notes and ideas.

Read more from Practical PKM