Journalling Your Way To A Better Mindset
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Why I Journal To Improve My Mindset
I’ve had a couple of messages as a result of a comment on a thread in the EBA Facebook group about mindset. It’s no secret that I’ve been on a huge journey over the last 18 months when it comes to mindset and there are a lot of things I’ve done to become someone with a positive growth mindset who is better able to take knocks and deal with the inevitable lows that come with the entrepreneur life. If you’re not sure about what a growth mindset is or why you need one, I’d recommend you read this article which does a great job of summarising the work of Dr Carol Dweck on the subject.
Alongside having a great coach, I’d attribute journalling as the number one thing that has helped me in developing a growth mindset. The good news it that unlike a coach, it’s totally free and you can do it almost anywhere at any time.
So what is journalling and how do you do it?
That’s a bit of a tricky question to answer because it’s an intensely personal activity and what I can share is what works for me, which might not work for you. I’d encourage you to try it though and experiment until you find something you enjoy doing and that you feel is having a positive effect on your mindset.
The best time to journal for me is first thing in the morning, as soon as I get up and ideally before I go near a phone or computer. I like having a dedicated, pretty book for it (the Peter Pauper Press range has beautiful covers, nice paper quality and are reasonably priced) because the ritual of making a coffee, getting the journal out, finding a fountain pen and sitting down at my desk is a nice way of helping my brain switch into the right space. If I’m travelling though, I’ll journal in any notebook, on my laptop, iPad etc. I do find though that writing by hand seems to tap into a different part of my brain than typing – plus I don’t get distracted (hello email inbox & Insta stories…).
Once I’m sat down, pen in hand, I’ll use my journal in three ways
1) Setting intentions / getting clarity on what I want
2) Unpickling my brain
3) Developing an abundance mindset / gratitude
Sometimes I do all three, sometimes I just pick one, depends on how much time I have and where I feel I need the help.
Setting intentions is about writing down what I want to happen. The more detailed and specific I can make this, the more effective it is. When I was at a bit of a crossroads in my personal and professional life, I spent a lot of time writing about my ideal day. It’s a nice exercise where you describe your ideal (every) day – from where you are living, to the time you get up, who you are spending time with, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. When I started doing this regularly, it became clear that I needed to move to a different city, streamline the services I offered in my business, put my horses on full livery and structure my working life so I could work from anywhere. It’s also a great tool for smaller decisions than crafting your perfect life! I’ll use my journal to set my intentions for the day – how sales calls will go, how I’ll tackle an obstacle or tricky situation, how many people will sign up for an EBA masterclass etc.
The second way I use the journal is for brain unpickling. When decision making feels like pushing a wheelbarrow through treacle or my mind is acting like a racehorse heavily dosed on Redbull, I turn to my journal and literally dump my thoughts onto the page. There’s no structure to this, it’s pure stream of consciousness recording. Putting it down on paper immediately relaxes me and often the solution is apparent within a few minutes. If it’s not, at least I have identified the issues so I can get advice from trusted advisors.
The third way I use a journal is to cultivate gratitude and appreciation. I started this habit when I was using the Self Journal as my daily planner / to do list. Part of the daily spread was a list of 3 things you are grateful for. I admit I struggled with this at times – more than once the list was coffee, horses & gin because they were the only things keeping me going through the day! Slowly but surely though the habit of being grateful started to sink in and become engrained, so much so that I usually list my 3 for the day in my head as I go to sleep at night and when I wake up. I took a course in January around mindset and one of the pieces of homework we had was a 5 minute abundance journal, where you spend 5 minutes writing everything you are receiving in life. I don’t do this daily (although I probably should) but it’s a lovely way to get yourself feeling really good and in the right mindset to receive more good things.
Now you might be reading this rolling your eyes thinking it’s easy for her to do this when she’s sat on a balcony in Andalucia watching the sun set with a cold glass of fizz. And I get you, but because it’s my blog post I’m going to reply with two points. The first being that I’ve had some really really shit moments in my personal and professional life over the last few years. Like really really shit, not sure if I can get out of bed and face this shit. So I get how “woo” and airy fairy this can sound. All I can say is I found doing this was cheaper and less hangover inducing than hitting the gin bottle or any other vice you are using to run away from your thoughts. The second point I’m going to make is how do you think I ended up sat on this balcony in the winter sun, having ridden my horse earlier in the day, who’s here in Spain with me and installed on one of the smartest dressage yards in the area 😉
To close, I’m going to mention a fourth way to journal which I’ve not used much. That’s why it’s not on my list above but another good way to get journalling is through the use of prompts. This is exactly what it sounds like, when you use a prompt / question to base your journal entry on. There are thousands of books and blog posts with lists of prompts but I’m going to highlight a friend of mine, Gemma Ray. She’s a best selling author of a book on self-discipline and procrastination and last month she ran a blog series using the Wordsmith journal card prompts from Best Self Co.
If you want to see what a selection of these prompts are and how Gemma got on with using them, then head on over to her site at http://mindandbodyworld.com/
So that’s how I journal. As I said at the beginning, it might not work for you but what have you got to lose from trying? Does it need you to find time to do it? For sure, but on a personal level, the effects on my biz, bank balance & general happiness has been spectacular, so I’m happy to invest the time.