This is a guest post by Joseph Luger of Western Mastery a great site where he talks about masculinity, survival, and other topics relating to being a man and getting the most out of life. Highly recommend you check out his site, you can also follow him on Twitter here. In this post Joseph talks about why every man should journal. Enjoy.
Imagine having a daily log of your life: your thoughts, your feelings, your goals, and your accomplishments. Imagine being able to refer back to it any time you want to update your progress on a goal or when you want to self-reflect.
If you could see what you would have written about your life ten years ago, how would you feel now? What about your thought process and lifestyle has changed? What would go through your head while taking a nostalgic trip into your life?
Now imagine yourself asking that same question ten years from now instead.
Smart men plan ahead. It’s why traditionally, men in cold climates adapted to become masters at surviving harsh winters. It’s why smart investors may take years to get a return on a great investment. It’s why accomplished men set long term goals and stay focused on the future. And it’s why smart men take a few minutes on average each day to write about themselves.
I have been writing a journal for two years now. The time commitment has been very low and it has been very beneficial to my development as a man. It has also been very interesting to read when I have downtime.
Journal writing is perhaps one of the best activities for goal setting, self reflection, and to have a record of your life’s memories. Let’s discuss in detail why you should take a few minutes to get started on writing a journal today.
Reason #1 – Goal Setting
Writing in a personal journal greatly helps you achieve your goals.
You can set daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly goals in your journal. You can ask questions in daily journal posts such as: What did I learn today? What did I do to achieve my goals? Simply having to think about these questions keeps you focused on your long term goals. Additionally, rereading your past answers gives you a better perspective on your progress.
It also helps to review goals that you never got started on. If you’re discussing your goal to sign up for a martial arts school then you look back in your journal and realize that you never did it, you start to feel like a man of inaction. How many times can you write about a goal that you haven’t taken steps to achieve?
Writing in a journal obviously will not automatically make you achieve your goals, but if you take your journal seriously and keep it goal oriented then it will absolutely assist you. Your journal will help you stay organized and keep your life in a greater perspective.
Reason #2 – Self Reflection
Perhaps the greatest reason to write a journal is that it helps you self reflect.
Self reflection allows you to have a greater understanding of your own psychology. It allows you to ask yourself tough questions and it can cause you to have revelations about your life.
You can write about your failures, your successes, and everything in between. You can see what you wrote in the past and how your thoughts have held up today. I’m very often surprised by the wisdom that I wrote down years ago. Sometimes I disagree with some of it, but that is part of self development.
You can do self reflection exercises to answer questions that nobody has ever asked you. These kinds of exercises can be immensely helpful in setting priorities and establishing goals in life. A great example of these types of questions are here.
I occasionally sit down and ask myself questions such as: What are my strengths and weaknesses as a man? What am I skilled at? What do I need work on, and how can I improve these skills? How have I changed in the last six months?
Men who want to get further in life will spend the brief time that it takes to ask themselves these types of questions. Simply by doing these exercises you may hit a revelation that you never expected.
I always say that you must verbalize to analyze. In other words, you have to consciously verbalize (or write about) something in order to gain a greater understanding of it. Self reflection exercises allow you to do exactly this.
Reason #3 – Memories
The most rewarding benefit of having a journal may be the ability to relive old memories.
Imagine the trinkets you will be able to read one day when you’re older. If you’re the kind of man who follows the advice of websites like Charles Sledge and Western Mastery, then you will surely become a man of great wisdom. Reading about your journey acquiring that wisdom will be an awesome experience.
Imagine being retired and looking back to what you wrote many decades in the past and seeing what you thought when you were young. Imagine the incredible insight it will give you. Imagine possibly selling your wisdom one day.
The times when I’ve written in most detail in my journal have been through my best and worst experiences, and during my travels overseas. I particularly love rereading my thoughts on trips: the women that I have been with, the adventures I have been on, and my thoughts and feelings through the process.
Learning is best done when it is deliberate and when you are introduced to the same concept multiple times. You cannot expose yourself to something once and expect to apply it to your life. I’ve written down lessons that I learned in a day, then reviewed them later and I’ve been better able to apply those into my life.
The benefits of being able to review your old writing cannot be stated enough.
I advise an average of five minutes a day of work into your journal. Don’t stress over it. Just write down your thoughts, feelings, and goals for the day. If you want to write even more, then great. Don’t worry if you have to skip a day.
How you decide to write your journal is obviously up to you. I generally just write the date along with my thoughts for the day. If I’m rereading my journal and I want to edit or add to what I wrote previously, I will add a dated note that says my current thoughts on what I wrote on the original day.
I use the program Evernote for my journal and my blog notes. It’s free if you only use two machines and it saves your notes on the program’s servers. You can use Evernote from a computer, smartphone or tablet.
You are free to use whatever method you want. I wrote my journal in a notepad file for a while. I switched to Evernote because it’s very convenient to have a program that saves text files so they can be accessed from any machine.
If you use Evernote then back up the file onto your computer occasionally. Make the file hidden and at least make the computer password protected. My Evernote account is naturally password locked.
Ultimately how you choose to write your journal is your decision. These are merely suggestions.
Journal writing is an easy and excellent investment into yourself. For a minuscule time investment you can have an excellent self improvement resource and treasure chest full of life memories.
You’re probably reading this on your computer now. I challenge you to open a text file and write down your thoughts and your future goals. Sit down tomorrow and do the same thing. Rinse and repeat.
You will thank yourself in the future for starting a journal today.
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