I have a plan for my life. There was a time when I thought I had a plan, but it was not MY plan. It was a plan based on expectations, ideas, and beliefs that had been spoken into and over me since I was a child, and that I then proceeded to reinforce by how I showed up in my life. It’s a pretty common story I have discovered.
You can easily find a thousand articles about journaling, its scientific benefits, how to do it (what to write about and how), etc. And it’s all helpful, but at the end of the day only two things are required to tap into the power of writing your thoughts and intentions down each day (or every other day, or however often you can manage):
- A willingness to make time to do it
- The courage to get to know yourself
When people tell me they don’t have time to journal for five to ten minutes a day, I know they don’t recognize the impact it will have on their life. Of course, everyone has 5-10 minutes in a day–it’s about priorities.
In order to tap into the power of writing, it takes the decision to do it, and then doing it. The more consistent you are, the more you’ll gain control over your thought-life. The more you do that, the more you occupy the driver’s seat in your life.
The reason people think they don’t have time generally comes down to a lack of desire. It stems from our human nature to seek comfort and safety. Taking time to get in touch with your own mind is scary for most people. It takes courage. Courage is the first step to awareness, and awareness is a requirement for sustainable mental and physical health.
In conversation with clients, friends, and acquaintances, I find almost without exception they are driven by external things and it’s stressing them out. Stress is a killer–straight up. One of the main things that contribute to stress is not knowing what’s going on inside your own mind–being tossed around by the waves other people and outside circumstances create. On top of that, we live in a fast-paced world that rewards and urges you to “hustle” and get to the next thing as fast as you can–after all you’ve got to keep up and “succeed.”
But ask yourself: do you even know what success looks like for YOU? Or have you allowed the world around you to inform you of what your success should look like and spent years in pursuit of that only to find yourself unhappy? That’s what most people do–seriously, it is so very common in our culture. I did it for years myself.
So knowing it’s common, and knowing you’re not alone can give you some comfort–but I’m asking you to be the exception. Because you can be–it’s available to you. But here is the thing: nothing will change until you change–and you can’t change what you’re not aware of.
I believe there are two primary things that jack people up:
- Physical Imbalance (varying levels of physical decline)
- Absence of Awareness (avoidance behaviors)
Literally, every other thing falls beneath one of these two things. And the cumulative effects of our choices in these two areas begin to catch up with us–especially after the age of 40 (it’s like compound interest on the transactions we’ve made earlier in life).
Journaling (writing) helps fix #2 and fixing #2 resources you to better address #1. As a functional health and nutrition coach, I see this play out in every single client I coach. We are not as unique as we like to think we are–at least in terms of what it takes to get a strong and healthy mind, body, and spirit.
The good news about this is the tools for addressing these things are not that complex either. Much like we can go to the gym to get in shape, we can write to increase our awareness–of not only ourselves but also the people and circumstances around us that have been impacting us for better or worse. While we can’t control things outside of ourselves, as we get a solid understanding of who we truly are and what we actually want to create in our lives, we can show up in a way that has a powerful influence over those external things.
People love to put fancy words around these concepts like “manifesting” and “attraction” but at the end of the day, it’s just paying attention and simple probability. If I look at a map and start heading in the direction of the destination I want, I will most likely get there. Even if something gets in my way or I have to take a detour, I’m still far closer than if I didn’t get started, right?
If I can wake up every day and get excited because I know I’m heading in the direction I want to go, then ultimately getting there is less important than how I’m learning and growing along the way. I might even decide to adjust the course at some point as I build momentum–but I’m moving in a positive forward direction fueled by an awareness of what’s valuable to me–that’s freedom. That’s power. And those in fact ARE powerful attractors to those things around us that are for us, that will energize and delight us, and all of this together confirms for us that we are walking in integrity with who we truly are.
On the other hand, if I have no idea where I’m going, odds are I’ll end up elsewhere. Generally, it’s not a place I would choose to be. So a question to ask yourself is: “Why would I even consider not having a plan and executing on it?”
You can ignore what’s going inside yourself if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Why? It’s a recipe for ending up in the exact same place or worse day over day, year over year, decade over decade. We react from our emotions stuck in our subconscious and if we don’t take time to get in front of our mind through a consistent practice of awareness, life will happen to you, you will react, and nothing will go the way you want.
People who do this get depressed, bitter, and stuck in cycles of shame, abuse, and addiction. When you write, you are writing for your dear life. You’re one precious opportunity to show up strong in this world and make the impact that only you can make. You are worth taking a few minutes each day–and your life will take on an increasingly powerful and more beautiful trajectory as you do. What have you got to lose?
The way I journal? Simple. I write what I’m thankful for to start–because the subconscious mind (our inner toddler) will always look for what’s missing first–it’s human nature; our survival instinct. By writing what is good (not perfect–this is not about “positive thinking”), I’m training my brain to notice what’s good first–that’s something I can build on for the day and it sets me on a positive track forward. Powerful.
Next, if anything is bothering me I write it out. I think about it–what’s true, what is not. Can I do anything about it? Do I need to let it go for now–forever? Whatever–it’s just about awareness and making sure I know what’s going on inside of my mind. I don’t have to fix anything.
Finally, I spend time thinking about how I want the day to go–the week–the year, and the next few years. The reason I do this is because I know for certain if I don’t, I will end up in the same spot and I’m not interested in that. I want to grow–and I want to move in the direction of my intentions, not my emotions (which are generally based on past memories or frameworks that are not mine).
Having a plan doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments as you go–but we need an awareness of where we want to find ourselves today, this week, month, year, and five years out. Because listen, if you want to guarantee you’ll be stuck in the same patterns by this time next year, then don’t work on developing this skill–and by all means, don’t create a plan. The truth is that if you don’t know what you’ll be doing a year from now (intention-wise), you can be sure you’re already doing it.
Writing this way gives me clarity–I know exactly who I am, what I’m about, what I’m NOT about, and where I’m going. It’s one way I can show up for myself–for that toddler inside of my own mind who needs love, guidance, and boundaries that only I can provide. And I can consciously live in gratitude to God for the life I’ve been given to live well, fully, and in His power. It enables me to show up and love others in a way that would be impossible otherwise. And to see through all the external noise. It is incredibly freeing and empowering.
So there you have it–that’s what works for me. Maybe what works for you looks somewhat different, but the key is to find out what that is and be consistent with it. You have to consistently brush your teeth if you want them to remain healthy (and avoid bad breath ?), and the same goes for maintaining a healthy mind.
You might have 60 minutes left of your life, or you might have 60 years. No one knows–that’s why “midlife” is a myth. So wherever you find yourself in life today, why not take time to find out what’s going on inside your mind so you can get in the driver’s seat of your day, week, year, and entire future? Writing in your journal is one easy and exceptionally powerful way to do so–and you can start with a notepad you already have laying around. Just start.
I would love to hear from you if this is already a habit that serves you, or if you’re going to start. I’d also love to hear from you after you’ve been doing it for a while and learn how it’s helping you.
And if you’re ready to take ownership of your life and learn how to lean into your amazing future full of strength, wellness, endless possibilities and freedom, I’m ready to walk alongside you. Reserve your spot in my next Smashing Midlife course, or set up individual coaching with me. Spots fill quickly, so be sure to set up your discovery call today so we can figure out what will be the best fit for you.