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Become a Better Person by Keeping a Journal

Become a Better Person by Keeping a Journal

Life comes and goes quickly. One day you are young, vibrant, and “taking charge” and then all of the sudden your are waking up, going through the motions and putting your time in. As your life passes you by, your experiences are some of the most important things you have to show for it.

Rather than let your life pass as a stream of experiences that you won’t remember later or never stop to process their meaning, keep a journal to become a better person.

Journal now to remember later

Because your life moves so fast, it’s important to keep a record of it as it passes. There are so many little things that happen to us every day that shape us as a person. Accounting for these experiences as they happen can show us how we came to important decisions later in life.

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Not only that, but journaling now can help us produce something that we can share with loved ones later in life or can use to reflect on when we need to make large life changing decisions.

Ever since I have been keeping a journal, there have been times when I have had to make a decision or have been presented with a problem and realized that I have written about the situation before. It’s great to go back and read things that I have written in the past to help my present self.

Journal to process feelings

Another great practice of journaling is to process your emotions and to help you move on with your life. For instance, if you have someone close that hurt you or even someone that passed away and you never got the chance to tell them the things that you wanted to tell them, writing “a letter” to them to express yourself can be a very healthy thing to do.

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For instance, there were things that I didn’t get to say to my father before he died. Instead of keeping the range of feelings and emotions inside, it was suggested to me to write a letter to him and read it “to him”. This has been one of the most important things that I have done to process those emotions.

You don’t have to keep your writings either. Some people write for the sake of getting their feelings out of their head and on paper only to burn them or destroy them.

Journal your successes

Another great thing to add to a journal is all of your successes. When you hit any lows in your life, it’s nice to go back and see that you aren’t a total failure and that you do have something to offer humanity. We can be really hard on ourselves, especially if we fail at something, aren’t received by people as we think that we should be, or don’t meet our own expectations.

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Having a detailed account of our successes helps us get out of negative ruts and helps us to move forward in our lives.

Journal to understand your failures

Journaling your failures is just as important as journaling your successes.

First, we can learn from our failures. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Writing down your failures and learning from them keeps us from going crazy and making the same mistakes over and over.

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Second, understanding that you are faliable is an important thing. We all can’t be amazing and awesome every second of every day. Understanding that you can and will fail keeps you level-headed and realistic. It also gives your permission to makes mistakes every once in a while without being extremely hard on yourself.

How to keep a journal

Now that you know the benefits of keeping a journal, how do you go about it? Here are several ways to keep a journal:

  • At the bare minimum write once a week. I prefer to write at least once a day, sometimes several smaller entries during the day, but if you are writing once a week, every week, you are way ahead of the game. You can use software like Day One, a plain text file, or even a pen and piece of paper (you ol’ hipster, you).
  • If you don’t want to write, you can record audio or video as your journal. The cost of storage is getting cheaper and cheaper, so keeping your life’s story in audio or visual form is now more doable than ever. Also, there is something special about saying your thoughts out loud. I know that it may seem crazy to “talk to yourself”, but before you throw it out, at least give it a try, especially if you don’t like sitting down and grinding out text.
  • Keep your journal private. Some people don’t mind to have their thoughts read aloud, but the truth of the matter is that the more private your journal is, the more that you will trust it to write the important things that you need to write. It’s OK to have feelings and observations that know one else knows.

(Photo credit: Black Moleskine notebook via Shutterstock)

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CM Smith

A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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