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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)

More by this author

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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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