For a while now I have been keeping a journal for the purpose of recording my progress and practicing my daily gratitude. It only takes a few minutes of my time, but it allows me to put things into perspective and helps me to remain rooted in the present moment. I can say without any doubt that maintaining a journal as part of my daily routine has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Honestly, I never thought that such a seemingly small habit could be such a major gamer changer.
In this blog I will go over the eight questions I ask myself each and every day and explain why I believe they could be of tremendous value to your personal development. Some of these questions are reflective while others are more practical, but I can assure you that answering them every night before going to sleep is almost a guarantee for a happier life. So let’s get right into it!
Question #1: What did I learn about life or myself today?
This question is to reflect on my overall daily growth. Every day has something new to offer and the sooner you realize that the sooner you start becoming more aware of everything that is happening around you. Let’s face it, all of us have to deal with difficulties and challenges in one form or another, whether in our professional lives or in our relationships. The question, however, is whether we’re able to transform these challenges into learning experiences that we can use for own good. So, what did you find out about yourself or your life today?
Question #2: Name three positive things that happened today
You’re still alive and breathing. There, I just gave you a free example. In one of my previous blogs “8 rules for increasing your ROI on happiness” I mentioned that being happy is a choice. By focusing my attention for a brief moment on three positive things – no matter how small they may appear – I can feel that there are more things going right in my life than going wrong right now. By focusing your attention just a little more on the positive side, you’ll soon start noticing that life is freakin’ awesome!
Question #3: How did I help, serve or assist today?
The reason I ask this question is to hold myself accountable for how I treat the world around me. Knowing that I’ll have to write it down by the end of the day, my brain unconsciously starts looking for ways to help others. That is why this question is so powerful! The fact that you can modify behavior just by writing it out is already pretty amazing if you ask me.
By the way, helping doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your entire day for someone else. It could be a simple gesture, such as holding the door open for an elderly person or giving a friendly smile to the cashier in the supermarket. Don’t overcomplicate it, it’s a lot easier than you think.
Question #4: What did I do today that moves me towards my goals and purpose?
Here, I write down everything that I took care of on that particular day that is directly related to my overall mission in life. Once I have done this, I assess objectively whether I believe this was enough or not. It’s so crucial to take responsibility and to hold yourself accountable for your actions, because nobody else is going to do it for you. Luckily, this question holds the same super power as the previous one. By simply knowing that you will have to answer for your actions (or inactions), you will be more likely to take care of your affairs.
Question #5: What will be my starting focus tomorrow?
A wise man once said ‘’Well begun is half done’’. His name was Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers of all time. I try to apply this Greek proverb as often as possible, and I think you should too. Writing down my highest priority for the next day will not only save me time and energy, it will also drastically increase my focus as I am initiating my day with a clear sense of direction. Make sure you always remind yourself of two or three key priorities before you go to bed. In this way, you will always know what to do when you wake up.
Question #6: What was my general mood today? Why did I feel that way?
Observing and acknowledging my thoughts and emotions every day has greatly helped me to break my negative habits and patterns. I highly recommend that you take a moment to reflect and ask yourself, “How did I feel today?”, “What was my general mood or state of mind?” And, more importantly, “Why was it so?” If you do this consistently, you will notice that both your positive and negative feelings at their deepest level can often be attributed to the same cause. This then helps you to work on them in a more conscious and mindful manner.
Question #7: What could have gone better today?
This question allows me to recognize points of improvement in becoming my own best version. Asking a few sub questions, such as, ”Did I use my time in the most efficient manner?”, ”Was I kind to everyone around me?”, and ”Did I take care of my health, physically and emotionally?” will help me evaluate my day and see what could have been done better. However, do not constrain yourself. If you feel like you had an amazing day and absolutely nothing could have been done better, you should write that down too, as long as you’re honest enough to own up to your shortcomings when they show up.
Question #8: Which three things I feel truly grateful for today?
This question is the mother of all questions, the holy grail of awareness and gratitude. It is an opportunity for you to be grateful and to be fully present in the moment. And what is happiness, if not that? I cannot stress enough that everyone should be doing this, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone! The release of stress and worry through this exercise is just incredible. Every time I write my three reasons to be grateful, I can feel all my worries slipping off my shoulders. Sometimes it’s like they weren’t even there in the first place. It is usually in these moments of total awareness that you realize that for every downside there’s always an upside. Having said that, make sure you do this exercise on paper, not just in your head, so that it will stick with you much longer.
I hope this article helped you consider starting journaling your personal progress. I think that by now it is fairly clear that I’m a big advocate of journaling. The reason is because it’s simple and everyone can do it, and the overall impact is just astonishing. In my journal I also write down ten statements, which I grade with a number from zero to 10. I will elaborate on this in my next blog post. For now, I just wish you a freaking awesome day….