I can’t remember the last time I read a fiction book—something for pure pleasure. My bookshelves are filled with personal development books, with topics ranging from leadership to storytelling, positive psychology, relationships, and lots of stops along the way. I’m fascinated by us humans, how we work, and how we can learn to work better together.
I’ve spent close to a thousand dollars on personal development books over the years.
Some of these books have been good, some light and fluffy, some I couldn’t finish, and a few I wanted to start re-reading as soon as I got to the last page. The truly great books were great because I did something with the information. I tried something new, built a new habit, changed a belief, or opened my eyes to a bigger perspective.
But all of these books have one thing in common: the author writes from their perspective. Even when the author is a researcher, it’s still filtered by understanding the data presented.
Some of my favorite books have a preface that includes wording that sounds like – this book provides information that you have to figure for yourself if it works for you. A nod to the fact that we are indeed all snowflakes and no one way will work for everyone.
But what if you wrote your own personal development book that was just for you?
What if, through journaling, you could start to think about the different areas of your life? You could focus on separate parts of your life like health and relationships, career, emotional states, character traits, parenting, relationships, career, and finance to improve them.
Evolving into the human, we want to be is what I believe our purpose is on earth. It’s a never-ending evolution because growth is not a straight-line trajectory. Growth is much more like that scary roller coaster that made me puke when I got off of it.
And let’s face it, change is hard. We have all these limiting beliefs about who we are and what we can do.
But what if you actively choose better beliefs?
Because quite honestly, many of the people I coach (and me too) have beliefs that are not serving them. Here’s the exciting part – YOU CAN CHOOSE DIFFERENT BELIEFS. They’re not written in stone. Your beliefs probably came from someone else or a small data set. What if you purposely choose beliefs that lead you to new behaviors and outcomes?
You can use your journal to document what your current beliefs are in any area. Are they helpful or hindering? What might a stronger, better belief about you be?
Then you can create your vision.
Once you have a good foundational set of beliefs about your health and fitness, about your relationships, about your career and finance, you can craft a vision for your future. Take a look around your room right now. Everything in it was once a thought.
You have a much better shot at creating the future you want for yourself if you create a vision for that future.
When I began documenting the character traits I want to have; it became deep work. How do I want to show up in difficult situations? In relationships? As a coach? Creating a vision for the character traits of the human I want to be, gives me a lifetime of experimentation.
And I am definitely not there yet! I want to continue to grow into the character traits of reliability, courage, kindness, vulnerability, curiosity, gratitude, positivity, integrity, and persistence.
Now that I’ve documented them, however, it pains me when I step out of alignment. Let’s just say I’ve got a lifetime of work in front of me.
But that’s where defining your strategy comes in.
It’s not enough to have a vision. A vision without any action is just a dream; it begs to have action behind it. And once again, your journal can come in handy with helping you define how you will create these visions in the real world.
A strategy isn’t a step-by-step plan of action. Sometimes our visions are too big; we can’t possibly know what all the steps are.
But we can usually figure out the first step. We have an idea of what we’ll need to figure out to get to that end state. Planning out our first steps and taking them almost always opens the door to our next steps.
Our journals can become our own best life design book.
Our journals can be more than a place to drop our mental gremlins off at the pool for the day. (Though, that can be super helpful) They can be the place we redefine our beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of. They can be the repository of the best visions of our lives. And they can be the best how-to book of all for our unique snowflake journey.
You are the author of your life. I hope you enjoy the story you get to tell.