The Joys of Journaling

Are you using one of the best, least expensive ways to gain personal clarity and emotional power?

That’s right, I’m talking about the power of journaling. Setting aside time dedicated to write and meditate on life, can not only help you keep a record of your daily activities, goals but can also help you with troubling situations, dispel future worry and get creative by flushing out new ideas that are buried under task lists.

Ever been to a business or personal retreat and notice they often provide a journal? It’s not just for taking notes or drawing pictures. Diverting the aspect of our brain concerned with survival tactics of flight, fight or freeze allows journaling to provide a process allowing you to capture creative and helpful ideas.

Journaling is the number one tool to change our belief sets. But are you ready to commit to it? We’re busy people, after all. You have a lot on your plate, so how can you dedicate time to stop the to do lists and busyness and actually begin writing about your day?

Let me first redefine what “journaling” is about.

Many people have this notion that to journal effectively you have to sit down and write pages and pages of flowering language regarding your feelings. In reality, journaling means to take quiet, undistracted time to think about your life.

When should I journal?

If you can set a daily time, that’s great. Mornings are considered best, but if you can keep it to the same time, it’s more likely to become a habit. Honor your own body’s schedule and when you’re most alert.

What should I write?

Begin with these 3 lists:

101 thoughts of gratitude
101 thoughts of what you want
101 thoughts of what you need

You won’t get to the end of each list but magic begins here and things start to unfold. You realize you don’t need as much as you think which puts you in a great frame of mind.

Write on the journal: “I commit to this journal 10 min everyday for 60 days until X date.”

Next you’ll need a few tips to get your pen actually moving…

1. Use this acronym, GAGA each day

  • Gratitudes
  • Affirmations
  • Goals
  • Attraction

Write about each of these items to get you going.  Do the same tomorrow and you’ll see it evolve over the next 20 days. An inspirational quote, anything you’re worried about, where you ARE and where you want to GO and begin to see opportunities crystallize in your mind.

2. The next acronym to use is: BAGELS

  • Behavior
  • Attitude
  • Gratitude
  • Evaluation
  • Lessons learned
  • Success


 What are the absolute things you MUST do today in your business. This will begin like a todo list and begin to emerge as more of a daily mission providing inspiration to do the hard stuff first. This is based upon the Eat The Frog principle from speaker, Brian Tracy, one of the Godfathers of motivation when he said, if you have something difficult to do first thing to avoid procrastination and small troubles becoming bigger ones.

 What attitude do you need to work on that will make you better at what you do? Where is the struggle and how will you conquer that challenge

 For the next 24 hours, you will be grateful for this ONE thing. Use your 101 list.

 Did you meet your behavior, attitude and gratitude goals?  Where can you improve?

Lessons Learned:
 You will be amazed at just how wise you are just by listing the things you’re learning through everyday living.

 Celebrate yourself, above all else. We move from one thing to the next faster and faster and rarely stop and breath in the small little success that gets us closer to what we want and who we are.

3. When it comes to goals, break them down to daily, weekly, monthly, quarter and for the year so as not to get overwhelmed. Remember that goals should be SMART. Specific. Measurable. Realistic. Time driven.

 Write about your belief systems regarding health, money, success, business, relationships. Just free-flow writing can identify massive value in how you’re operating and provide a wonderful road map to your success.

4. In all of this writing, aim high! Yes, that’s right, aim bigger than you think. Start and let this evolve with what’s called the BHAG, Big Hairy Audacious Goal. (I fully realize this post has a LOT of acronyms. Stay with me here!)

What should I journal with?

The easiest tool to journal on is the one you’ll actually use. There are beautiful moleskine journals with fine pens that look amazing to carry, some integrate with wallets and sketch pads while others will hold phones and iPads.

The one I recommend is the one that is most comfortable to use. For years I filled up dozens of mid-sized, Mead Five Star notebooks because they came in various colors and folded over for easy writing and held a pen nicely. Viola!

Later I moved to digital because I was tired of digging through dozens and dozens of journals for ideas and tracking of my results. My favorite is Evernote (free) for it’s ease of use, integration of images, voice dictation and web pages. I use the premium version and it allows me to sync across all three of my Apple devices (iPhone, Mac and iPad).

Others digital options are:

One Note (free)

Momento ($3.99 year/£3.28)

Day One ($4.99/£4.10)

Simple Note (free)

Bear (free)

Other helpful tips:

If starting on a blank page feels daunting, rely on the acronyms above or create a template. A great one is “Gathering Momentum” by Jessica Mullen, which has creative ideas to improve focus as you start the day. Print out 10-15, organize them in a binder, and make it a priority to complete one each day while having your coffee or tea. Brilliant and full of Soul Gold!

I have clients that use journaling to calm their anxiety, track their progress in relationships and step into mindfulness by placing concerns and worries on the paper versus taking up valuable mind space.

For more helpful tips on how to create a mindful life, visit the blog here at or send an email to

To your good health,

~Noel McDermott

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