Author: Bret Gornik
For the next five minutes, I’d like you to reflect on your day.
What went well? What would you have changed? Did you speak with anyone who inspired you?
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we underestimate the value of taking time to reflect on our day.
We can all find five minutes to relax, decompress, and organize our thoughts. These constructive practices help us develop control and self-awareness, which ultimately aid in our personal development.
I have found that taking a few minutes each day to really reflect helps me to develop both clarity and direction in my life. Just like anything else, when you start doing something new it can take some time to establish the habit, but once you set aside this time, you will find that it helps to structure the rest of your day. After over three years of this practice, I look back on my life, celebrate my growth, acknowledge my weaknesses, and have built a foundation to make positive change in my life.
Daily journaling is essential in continued progression.
“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”
― Edmund Burke
Three Benefits of Journaling
Putting your thoughts on paper really makes you think deeply about your day. There is a difference between talking with friends about how work is going or about the TV show you watched last night and putting pen to paper to genuinely reflect
The commitment to spending a little effort each day on recording your thoughts and feelings adds up over time. Journaling is like working out. Consistency is the key. When reflecting on your day becomes part of your routine, you begin to be more conscious of decision making. This translates to purposeful action, clarity in the way you approach a problem, and the drive to improve.
Your time is valuable. We constantly discuss the development of routines. Whether you decide to journal once or multiple times a day, the important aspect is creating routine.
I find it helpful to have a set time every day to journal. For me, I put aside time in the morning right before my day starts and at the end of the day right before I go to bed. Both of these times help me create organization in my day. When I journal in the morning, I write down my goals for the day. To organize my thoughts in this way, I format my day to focus on what I want to accomplish. When I journal before I go to bed, I reflect on what I did or did not accomplish. Since I have implemented journaling into my routine, I have seen a tremendous increase in my productivity during the day and my quality of sleep at night
3. Personal Development
When you consistently journal, you start to see themes repeat in your reflections. If you are not already aware of them, you will realize what areas in your life you are proud of and which areas you can improve. You may not write, "I need to work on my listening skills", but you might start to notice little arguments, or misinterpretations, in your life that could be solved by improving your listening skills. It is essential to reflect on your entries and ask yourself how you can better yourself tomorrow based on your actions today.
This is where having the hard copy comes into play. It does not matter where or how you journal, but having the ability to go back and look through your thoughts is essential. Take time to really dive into what you write.
After months (and years) of keeping your thoughts documented, you have a catalog of emotions, triumphs, and disappointments to reflect upon. At this point, the act of reading old entries is equally as important as daily writing. You will find areas you can improve on, as well as the blessings that got you to where you are today. Let this be a guide for how to progress in life.
Finding Your Method
I have consistently written in my daily journals for the last three years. I use two different journals and I recommend both for different reasons. The important thing is to find what works best for you.
1. One Line A Day
My fiancé introduced me to the One Line A Day journal three years ago, and I truly wish I had been using this for my whole life. The concept of the One Line A Day is that each page is a day of the year with a few lines for you to write about your day. The idea is to write about important events or quick explanations of how you felt that day. You complete this every day for a year. Once the second year begins, you start the book over and write underneath the previous year’s entry. Once the third year starts you start over again and write under the previous two years’ entries and so on for a total of five years. It is fascinating reflecting on previous years and evaluating your growth and progression. I strongly encourage this tool. I have learned so much about myself thanks to this journal.
2. THE FIVE-MINUTE JOURNAL
I have been using this journal since the end of last year. I found out about this journal from Tim Ferriss, as he uses it as part of his daily routine. I find this journal effective because I use it in the morning and at night. Therefore, it sets me up for success at the start of my day and gives me a way to reflect at the end of my day.
The Five Minute Journal starts with a daily quote on the top of the page. The morning section prompts you with three things you are grateful for, three things that would make today great, and a daily affirmation. The evening section consists of three amazing things that happened that day and the question, "How could I have made today better?"
If you are looking for a way to kick-start your morning with a structured template, this is the journal for you.
Remember, you can use a specific journal, an app, or revert to the classic notebook. I challenge you to start now. Take just five to ten minutes to write down the events that occurred and emotions you felt that day. Daily reflection will steer you in the direction of having the best day ever, everyday.