018: Journaling for Future You



Journaling is a great habit for now, but journaling also can have big impacts on future you. Justin outlines three ways keeping a journal can improve life for your future self.


00:00 Hello and welcome to Process. My name is Justin DiRose, community leader at the Productivity Guild, and today we’re talking about journaling for future you. As with last week I’m still little under the weather, so bear with me with my voice. I’m a little congested. It’s not very fun especially when you’re trying to talk into a microphone, but we’re going to get through this one and I think today’s topic is going to be pretty interesting. But first I wanted to give you a quick update on the Bear Primer. As I mentioned last week, we are scaling back the scope of the Making Sense of Bear course and putting it into a small primer inside of the Productivity Guild Pro membership. Well, I mentioned last week I had the videos recorded and I now have them all edited and ready to go so I’ll be getting those posted within the next week or two. So be looking forward to that if you have a Pro membership. And if you don’t have a Pro membership, you can sign up for a one month free trial using the code PROCESS19.

00:58 Onto today’s topic. Journaling for future you. If you’ve hung around the productivity space at all, you’ve probably run across articles that are talking about just how amazing journaling is for your mental health and your emotional health. And I fully get behind the reasons for that. There is some thing that activates inside of you when you actually put what’s your thoughts and feelings are on paper. There’s a release that happens there and it’s part of being an emotionally healthy individual and being more emotionally healthy oftentimes means that we can be more present in our lives. But that’s not what I want to talk about today because I feel like those praises have been sung enough by other productivity and journaling people all around the world.

01:46 Instead, today I want to talk about three main areas that you can journal for your future self. Then when you revisit your journals, that they’ll be all the more helpful for you. Reason number one, celebration. Lots of people talk about having a journal of your accomplishments, things that you’ve gotten done during the day, things, goals that you’ve reached, um, important things that have happened in your life that are significant to you, such as getting a new job or a promotion or whatever that may be. It’s really fun to write those things down in the moment. Where I feel like this comes into play is down the road when you’re not feeling very successful, when you’re not feeling very happy, when you’re not feeling very good. It’s in those moments when we need something to go back to and remember where we have been successful because it’s easy to forget who we are.

02:38 It’s easy to forget where we’ve come from and it’s easy to forget just how many things in our lives have gone right. And so I know something that I haven’t been the best at, but I try to do every once in awhile is when I’m feeling down, I try to remember the good things that have happened in my life. It’s partly gratitude, but it’s also partly like, hey, these amazing things are going on. These amazing things have happened and when I remind myself of that, it brings me up to a better place. It brings me to a place where I can see a little bit more clearly and get out of my funk a little bit easier. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I remember like, Oh yeah, life is actually pretty good and some really amazing things have happened and this negative situation isn’t going to stick around forever.

03:25 Reason number two, progress. When we’re trying to develop ourselves or do something different with our lives, it’s often very easy to get trapped in a very short time span and look at ourselves, you know, say over the course of a month that I get better on this thing or over the course of six months did I get better on this thing. But to be honest, most change happens in our lives very slowly. So for example, if you’re trying to become a healthier person and you’re eating a bunch of fast food, you don’t exercise, you don’t really get out of the house all that much. I mean, I say this because I’ve been there in my life. It could be really discouraging to try to gauge your progress based upon where you want to be in the future after a week. Honestly, this is I think where most people get tripped up when they’re trying to make bigger changes in their lives as they’re trying to make them in such a tight scope of things and a tight scope of time.

04:25 So that doesn’t really make sense in our brains. Like we get this ideal picture that were just like, oh, snap of the fingers, let’s get it done. I’ve definitely fallen victim to that myself, but it’s not how life works. In fact, most changes like this take place over a long period of time. So on the example of health, health is a lifelong process. You can be the healthiest that you’ve ever been at every single day in your life going forward, but it’s because you’re making little steps along the way. There’s no absolute cap to the peak of your health. It’s a matter of taking care of yourself every day and making slight improvements along the way. In order to avoid getting trapped by this one, we have to have the mindset that it’s a longterm investment to do something like this. The other part where I find journaling to be helpful is that if we track our journey along the way, going back to reason number one to celebrate our accomplishments and remember those, especially when we’re feeling down, we can also utilize those pieces in our journal to remind us of our progress over time.

05:26 So I know over the last 10 years or so has been a journey of me getting slowly healthier over time, going from eating a lot of fast food to not drinking soda because I couldn’t afford to have it. And then just slowly eliminating things in my diet and exercising periodically. And over the last 10 years I have gotten significantly healthier than I was before. But it’s difficult to remember that. And so journaling is one way that helps me remember that I am in a process over a period of time getting healthier. It lets me go back in time to my past self and remember, Oh yeah those are the kinds of things that I was doing at that point in time and I don’t do that anymore. I’ve moved on from that or I’ve gotten over that. I’ve gotten through that thing. And so having a journal of whatever it is, you know, if you specifically journal health things or just make a note about something that you ate during the day or whatever it is that you’re trying to track long term that will help you remember down the road the progress that you have made. We’re best to measure progress in terms of years, not terms of months, days or weeks. And having a journal that we can go back to over the long term helps us keep track of that progress. We don’t have to specifically track these things. But just having it there to remind us of where we were really helps keep the bigger picture and perspective.

06:56 Reason number three, reactivation. I really can’t remember if it was Tim Ferriss or James Clear that said this. If I find the place where I remember it mentioned, I’ll put it in the show notes, but it’s really easy to replicate success in your life by doing what you did when you were successful at it. So on this whole health topic here, when I was in middle school, so about age 13 or 14, I got into going to the gym and lifting weights and it stuck for an entire summer until I broke my wrist and couldn’t do it anymore. But the reason that it stuck is because I had somebody to go with.

07:32 Now, remembering this is something that I know works for me to have some accountability person to help keep me on track with where I want to go, where we’re just committed to it together. So now I can go back and if I want to start going to the gym again, I probably need to find somebody that I can stay accountable with and do that process with in order to stay on track with it in the future. Whoever mentioned the journal aspect of that I talked about at the beginning of this point. Um, they were talking about diet and how they had written down foods that they had eaten all throughout their life. Um, you know, for a significant chunk of their life anyway. And when they wanted to get healthy again, they just went back to when they were at their peak and looked at what their diet was.

08:17 And so one thing that our journals can do is that when we get a little off course, we can go back and look and see what we were doing at that point in time that was successful. So, so this is something to keep in mind as you’re journaling, as you’re doing your journal, if that, if you know that there’s something that you might get off track on in the future, but it’s something that’s important to you, again, such as healthy living, find a way to track it or just make notes about it along the way. Again, it doesn’t have to be complex, but it can be something small to where when you look at it three years down the road, five years down the road, 10 years down the road and you’re like, oh yeah, I remember that in that season I was eating this way and I felt the best I’ve ever felt in my life.

09:03 I’m going to try that again and you can basically replicate your diet by doing that. Again, this is just one example of how journaling for your future self may be able to help keep you on track for things that go long term. Journaling is an exceptionally helpful habit to build and I’ve noticed that since I’ve started the bullet journal, I’ve actually made my journaling a whole lot less complex as a result. Instead of feeling like I have to sit down and write a bunch of words on the page and just spill everything out, I can just bullet list some items and it can be whatever it is. It can be tasks that I want to do or have done, events that happen in my life or even just random little thoughts and I’m finding even going back and reviewing these over the last month or the last couple of months since I’ve started doing this, it keeps a bit of perspective in mind.

09:58 So I’m not necessarily saying that the bullet journal is the best way to handle this for you, but I know it’s one way that has helped me kind of get things together a little bit better and it’s a little more structured for me to be able to use it better when I look at it in the future. So there’s a lot of different ways we can journal for our future selves. These are just three of them. I highly encourage you to think about whether you’re journaling already or you want to get started on the journaling habit, how you can incorporate the journal for your future self or for future people like your children or your children’s children and how that might be able to benefit them. You’re ournaling is really a history of your life and it’s something that you can sow into the generations to follow, so it’s, it’s so much bigger than just this immediate health impact that it has now, but it can have an impact on the people that come after you to see, wow, man, this is how this person lived. These are the things this person did and these are things that I can learn from them and we can learn from ourselves too in that process.

11:03 Well, that’s all for this time. If you want to join in on the discussion for this episode or if you want to connect with others who are in the process of becoming better on their productivity journey, head on over to the Productivity Guild at productivityguild.com. Or if you want to support this podcast and get access to video modules, productivity courses, and more, consider signing up for a Pro membership at the Productivity Guild for just $10 a month. Get a free month trial using code PROCESS19. Lastly, if you like this show, rate us on iTunes or recommend us on Overcast. My name is Justin DiRose and join me next time on Process.

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