Journaling for Success
by Ron Pate

Even the most successful person from time to time goes through periods of personal challenge in one or more of numerous areas of life. I am no exception. The past year, though I've grown a lot, I've also been challenged in my personal life on a number of fronts. One thing I've learned from past success is that when I find myself at a low point, it helps to look back to when I was at a peak in my journey of success and see what my habits, actions, and thoughts were like at that time. The past several months as I sought to resurrect the mindset that I experienced during times when things were going exceptionally well in my life I realized two things I did during those times were to write in my personal journal, or diary, and to become very involved in my church and church related activities. Since I started back my daily practice of journaling my thoughts, dreams, hopes, wishes, frustrations, and prayers I have experienced a remarkable reawakening. Things are rapidly shaping up as they should have been all along, mental cobwebs are disappearing, and my attitude and actions are once again aligning themselves with the cheerful, optimistic, and inspiring person that has allowed me to climb to where I am in life.

So, let's explore this often unrecognized tool for success and consider how one can best practice personal journaling and how it works to improve your chances of total life success.

First, it has long been recognized that the written word has tremendous power. For example, few that have achieved great things in life would deny that written dreams and goals have power orders of magnitude greater than thoughts, wishes, and dreams which are only verbalized and never reduced to writing.

When we record our thoughts in writing, it provides a powerful method of immediate feedback which helps us gain a level of clarity unequaled by nearly any other means. As we write it's as if we're experiencing an interactive dialogue with ourselves in which we can see more clearly the rightness or errors in our thoughts, and we find that our own intelligence can help us identify more optimal solutions in our endeavors or plans.

Recently I read a book on the principal of "flow". Flow is that optimal state people sometimes enter into in which things just seem to click into place, where time seems to become distorted, and where enjoyment reaches an exciting peak. One of the premises in this book is that states of flow can contribute powerfully to the experience of happiness. One characteristic of a person in flow is the absence of what is referred to as "psychic entropy". Psychic entropy is present when our minds become jumbled with disordered thoughts, often thoughts of a negative nature, perhaps the hundreds of little things in our life that are bugging us. As one gains control of the mind, and pushes out the clutter, entering into a state of greater focus and concentration, and as psychic entropy thus decreases, a more ordered and often happier and more productive state of mind is realized. This is where journaling can be used for powerful benefit. Journaling offers us a way to verbalize and crystallize our thoughts, and in the process of journaling we can focus our mind and thus lower psychic entropy. And as most consider and protect their journals as private documents you are free to verbalize and express even your most inner and secret concerns and thoughts rather than letting them remain bottled up inside where they contribute to increased mental tension and distress. Often in the process of journaling you not only verbalize your thoughts but as your mind becomes less cluttered, more focused, and as you enter into a state with less mental disorder you often find solutions, or clues that lead you to solutions, to some of the challenges you currently face.

Another excellent benefit of journaling is that you can remind yourself of important principles of success and reiterate positive things which you have read or learned. It is critical if you wish to achieve the greatest level of success possible that you constantly feed your mind positive, nurturing ideas and thoughts. When you journal you can reflect upon those positive mental ideas and images you've gathered and thus drive them deeper into your mind, memory, and subconscious. It is helpful to also remind yourself of your successes as you journal, pulling from them the things that you did to achieve the successful outcomes.

Let your mind flow free and don't just write about the challenges and frustrations you face but about the good things that happen to you in life as well. Since we often achieve or see realized in life what we think about and focus on most, journaling should be used to focus on the good things as well as the not so good.

In parting, here are some ideas of the things you can include as you write your journal. Consider tracking events in your life, planning for your future, dialogue with yourself on whatever important issues are at hand, document things happening in your work such as employee or employer challenges or accomplishments, spend some time in personal reflection, and clarify your personal goals and dreams. The sky is the limit. Give yourself ample time each day to journal. I suggest at least 15 minutes. Many feel better journaling at the beginning of the day, setting the stage for a successful day. Some, like me, prefer to journal at night taking time to unwind and reflect on what has happened while also thinking forward to the forthcoming day. Some like to type on the computer, some like to lie in bed and journal the old fashioned way, in pen and ink on plain composition books. Give it a try, figure out your style, and if you stick with it long enough you'll likely find as I have, that journaling can be an important tool in your success toolkit.

We hope that you have found this article useful and we welcome your comments and suggestions.


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Copyright 2006 by Ron D. Pate. All rights reserved.