PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

4 Steps to the Life You Want

Bronnie Ware worked in palliative care for years and discovered that those who are slowly dying have many regrets. She codified them into a list of five regrets (which you can read on Bronnie’s website by clicking here).

However, what I want to discuss is just the number one regret of the dying on the list.

The number 1 regret of the dying is this: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

A life true to myself… This is what I call a custom-tailored life. It is not easy to live in a way that fit you perfectly.

It is difficult to push beyond the expectations of others. To change careers, for instance, is oftentimes to change identities. Not only are you stepping away from something, you are stepping into something.   You find yourself asking, “If THAT is not who I am, then who am I?”

At times it is difficult to know what you want because you have been told what you should want for so long. This is what I call the “Shackles of the Shoulds.” You feel bound to a certain way of life before you have given it any thought.

At times you do not make the move you want because you fear making a mistake in front of everyone, in front of all the naysayers and people who were concerned that you will fail, or who would not change to THAT career and who do not believe that anyone else should either.

So What Do You Do?

Here are 4 steps to the life you want

Step 1 – Ask yourself “What Would I Like My Life to Look Like?”

Step 2 – Record the answers (there may be several)

Step 3 – Look for ongoing support for your idea in your social circle, in your online circle (Facebook can be good for this), with a therapist, and/or with a career consultant.

Step 4 – Practice continued kindness… with yourself and others.

 

The steps are simple, the practice is difficult. These facts render a strong support system necessary.

Are you living a life that works for you?

Peace,

Deborah

Are you considering a career change? Are you an introvert?  Let me brainstorm with you to find your new career. Sign up for my free consultation.  Just send me your career change challenge by clicking here and Become a Consulting Beta Tester. This offer ends November 10, 2018.

JOURNALING

Journal Writing Suggestions

This is a letter which I sent to an acquaintance -Mr. X- who asked for journal writing suggestions. Two decades have passed since Mr. X has written in a journal. He wanted to start again and asked if I had any tips.

I did.

What follows is my answer to him, reprinted with permission and with a few edits for clarity. Hopefully, this might prove useful to others.

————————————-

Hi  Mr. X,

Via text you asked for journal writing suggestions. I started thinking of everything I wanted to say and it was too much for a text message over the phone, so I’m writing in a longer form. Here are journal writing suggestions that I hope will be useful. (By the way, my mother always says this about taking advice:  glean what works for you, and then toss the rest.)

Here we go:

  1. There is no right or wrong way to write in your journal. Your journal is neither an exam nor a measure of your worth. Some beginners become obsessed with doing it “right,” choosing the “perfect” pen, not making mistakes, etc., to the point of paralysis or negative thoughts about themselves. You are not being judged or graded. This book exists to serve you.
  2. Understand your purpose for the journal.
    • Knowing why you journal helps to choose your format. If you journal for future generations 100 years from now to understand what life is like for you in 2017, then you might choose a leather journal or a digital journal -something long-lasting- as opposed to a paperback sketchbook.
    • Knowing why you journal helps to choose how frequently you should journal. I write every day because I would like to look back on what I was doing a year ago today and see my progress (or lack of it). Other people only write on vacation, because those trips are important to them. They do not need to write 365 days a year.
    • Knowing why you journal will come in handy on the rare days when you do not feel like doing it. Your “why” can be your motivation through writer’s block.
  3. Here are a few reasons that people journal:
  • Some use a journal to record a history of their lives for the next generation. I call these heirloom journals.
  • Some use it to think through an issue, e.g. Sometimes I don’t know everything I think about a subject until I write it all down.
  • Many use a journal for personal development, to establish goals for the kind of person they would like to become, the kind of life they would like to have, etc.
  • Others use journals to vent frustrations.
  • Others keep interesting quotes in their journal so that it becomes an inspirational reference book.
  • Some record their progress– physical, mental, academic. E.g. One guy uses it to record his daily diet and exercise regime. He can refer to an entry from 10 years ago to sculpt his body the way that he did in the past.
  • Some use journals for specific events – e.g.  They buy a new journal to record their thoughts during the first few months of their newborn’s life; they sometimes include photos.
  • Many people use journaling just to find a home for the thoughts which ricochet inside their minds all day.  e.g. Leonardo DaVinci used his notebooks to sketch many things that would not be invented for centuries, including the military tank.

leonardo

 

 

  1. Choose a format which works for your purpose.
    • There are traditional paper journals, which I use often. Paper journals are good for slowing down and thinking through an idea. They are also great for heirloom journals, since your heirs can hold the same book that their ancestors touched.
    • There are digital journals –online and offline- such as the ONE DAY journal app for Apple products, or the JOURNEY journal app for Android phones. Digital journal apps are the best for searching through your old entries, creating tags so that you can re-read all journal entries that are under one category.
    • You might type your journal on a WORD document on a password-protected flash drive or external hard drive, so that it’s offline and private.
    • There are audio journals. In those moments when I do not want to write, I use the voice recorder on my phone to talk through an idea.
    • There are video journals. You can record yourself using your camera phone, a point-and-shoot or a DSLR set up.
    • An entrepreneur named Roberto Blake uses social media apps, like Instagram, as a public journal to record his life visually, to recall where he was, geographically and psychologically, on that day.

roberto

You can choose one of these formats or use a combination. It all goes back to your purpose for doing this, your lifestyle, and personality.

  1. There are different formats for organizing the contents of journals. Here are a few types:
    • A log. In a log, you talk about what you’ve done today or during the week.
    • Self-Improvement Journals. Usually you are hashing through what you’ve done, how can it be improved, what you’re going to do moving forward.
    • Art journals. These tend to have fewer words and more images. An art therapist from Australia, Jade Herriman, says that art journaling is therapeutic and helps you to develop a creative mind.
    • Bullet journals. These are mostly custom-tailored to-do lists more than traditional journals. Visit Boho Berry for bullet journaling tutorials.
    • Commonplace books. These feature inspirational quotes or images that you have come across.

It’s best to make a combination that you prefer.

  1. It is helpful to have your form of journaling handy. I keep my paper journal nearby because I write at random times of the day, whether at home or away from home. Other people write at a set hour and at a certain desk, so they keep the book on that desk, ready to go for when they want to jot down an idea.
  2. On the days when you do not feel like writing, or when you would like inspiration, you might discover how other journal writers write.
    • I have written a blog post on Tim Ferriss and a journal process that takes only about 5 minutes to write every day. Here’s a link to “How to Write a 5-Minute Journal.”
    • Clark Kegley, a Youtuber, started journaling in 2013, I believe, for personal development and sharing what he has learned on his channel. Kegley uses only one journal per year. He suggests that you divide the journal into different subjects like a school notebook, e.g. He might section off 30 pages for each subject – 30 pages reserved for inspirational quotes, another 30 for ranting, another 30 pages for his goals, etc. He can go back and forth between the different sections throughout the year as he deems necessary.

Here’s a link to one of his many videos about journal writing called 4 Questions to Upgrade Your Journal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIqMzigWx04 (The four questions are also in the description box below the video if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing.)

Kegley

Here’s another Kegley video that you might find useful, he takes you through how he sets up his journal in The Ultimate Guide to Keeping a Journal.  (It’s not really the ultimate guide, there is no ultimate guide; it’s just Kegley’s way of journaling.) The talk  starts at the 7min 12sec mark; this is a deep link to that part: https://youtu.be/kcNz4AE1FiI?t=7m12s

    1. Austin Kleon has a blog post about journaling called, ”On Keeping a logbook.”  Here is the link: https://austinkleon.com/2010/01/31/logbook/

Basically, he explains that his journal is a list of 4 or 5 things he has done that day, with a few doodles. I’ve noticed that calling it a list instead of a journal seems to help many people to write more often.

Here is an image of what Kleon’s journal looks like:

KLeon

Ultimately, the journal is for you and your purposes. After a while, journal writing becomes a habit. Journal writing can become something as useful to you psychologically as eating or drinking water is for you physically.

Always remember, however, if you decide to walk away from it, that’s fine too; it’s your life.  (Plus, you can always pick it up again, if you wish.)

Peace,

Deborah M. Thomas


What are some of your journaling suggestions? Let me know.

 

JOURNALING

Use Your Journal to Improve Language Skills

The premiere Korean language company- Talk to Me in Korean- suggests one thing to do to improve the study of Korean- use a journal. This can be applied to learning any language.

They suggest that you write every day in your journal using the language skills that you wish to improve. Use subject matter that is meaningful and important to you and you are more likely to continue the practice. For instance, if you enjoy writing about family or a friends, that is what you write about in the language that you are learning.

Watch the video where a Talk to Me in Korean host explains the method on Youtube: Do This One Thing to Keep Improving Your Korean.

Peace,

 

Deborah

JOURNALING

Addressing the YOU of five years ago in your journal

The leader of a Facebook group recently asked a question similar to the following, a question which might be a great journal prompt:

What is something that you have done which would have impressed the you of five years ago?

That’s a mouthful.

This prompt is meant to help you understand the progress you have made in life.  Have you done something that five years ago you didn’t expect to have done? Have you accomplished something that, five years ago, seemed out of reach? Have you altered your life in ways that you had not even considered back then?

Contemplate it and record your answers.

This prompt can also be used to get your ideas flowing for what’s next. What might impress you in the next five years?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING

A Public Journal

Ten years ago I would give away paper journals to relatives and friends, hoping they would join me in recording their lives. They often did not take me up on the offer.

Enter the touchscreen phone/smartphone, the tablet, etc. Now they record their lives in more ways than I do, through Facebook, Snapchat, and other applications online.

There are many different ways to journal now, even if people do not call it by that name. I still love my paper journal the best, but I am thrilled that so many people are finding the way that suits them to record their endeavors.

I recently came across a video by online entrepreneur Roberto Blake called, “I’m No Instagram Model, But…”. In it, Blake notes that he had not found a way to use the photo app Instagram in a way that fits his personality. Then, he says,

“I decided to turn Instagram into a public journal where I can express what I’m thinking and feeling as a creative person, as a human. And so I can look back on that myself and know exactly when I felt something, where I was at that time – both geographically at the time and just where I was in my own head.”

He’s journaling on social media! But then again, so are most individuals who are on the app. He’s one of the first people that I’ve heard use the word “journal” to describe what he’s doing with it.

Recording your life and thoughts can be done; sometimes  it’s a matter of finding the tools that work for you and your life. Perhaps the journaling tool that best fits your life has not yet been invented. (Perhaps you should invent it.)

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Organize Self and Home · Productivity

Templates Create Efficiency in Your Journal’s To-Do List

If your journal also houses your to-do list, then efficiency in creating those lists is necessary to get the job done.

One of the biggest culprits of to-do list failure, of not achieving the goal, is the tedium of having to write and rewrite your list on tasks to complete on a regular basis. Delay writing burnout by creating templates.

If you know that you will create a to-do list every day or every week in your journal, it might be a good idea to type a list template that you can print and affix to your paper journal.e.g. If you have a weekly to-do list for the foreseeable future that has as its focus Housing goals, Blogging goals, and Financial goals, then type those headings in a simple table, leaving blanks for you to write in the specific goal each week.

If you are using a digital journal for your list, create a to-do list template that you can copy and paste every day or every week.

Continue tweaking your journal and your lists until it fits your life. Pay attention to what fatigues you about your writing and what brings you  a sense of well-being.

And remember that what worked for you in a different phase of life might need to be tweaked for your current phase of life.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Which Pen Should You Use for Journal Writing?

Use the writing implement or medium that works for you and your journal. If a Visconti Rembrandt fountain pen makes you eager to write, go for that investment. If a store brand pen which you can buy in packs of 50 gets your creative juices flowing (because you’re not worried about someone “borrowing” it), then use that inexpensive pen.

Sometimes you’re not even using a writing implement. There may be times when you  glue an image to a page to speak for your mood instead of words.

The pen (or other medium) you should use for the journal is the one that serves you.

Onward,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Old Journals Are Like Letters to Yourself

Have you written a letter to your future self? Depending on the purpose of your journal, your personal book can serve as an extended letter to self,  featuring goals,  wishes,  your ideology. . . Everything. Anything.

This morning, I read an entry from ten years ago. I was jaded,  dejected,  and hoped that my older self was having fun.

My younger self had been despondent for months. I do not recall those moments lasting so long, but there they are in black ink (someyimes red ink when feeling particularly dramatic).

I cannot help her now, but I can help someone else who shows similar deviations from their baseline behavior.

These journals help me to be aware of how a person might feel during different phases of life, phases long forgotten.

The journals help to empathise with younger people or those going through the doldrums.

Have you read one of your old journal today? What did you discover in what is, essentially, a letter to yourself ?

 

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

When Tim Ferriss mentions his daily writing routine in Tools of Titans, I was intrigued. He calls the routine the 5-Minute Journal.

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts that Ferris uses every day – morning and evening- to recall daily highlights and to improve himself for the next day.

These are the 5-Minute Journal Prompts:

Morning Questions

  1. I am grateful for…
  2. What would make today great?
  3. Daily Affirmations

Evening Questions

  1. 3 amazing things that happened today
  2. How could I have made today better?

 

I have incorporated the 5-Minute Journal Prompts into my daily writing routine for ten days. There is already a weekly goals list incorporated into my journal; I was searching for a way to remind myself daily of the tasks that should be completed by Saturday. The 5-Minute Journal Prompts bend to this purpose.

Early on, I would often write in the Evening Questions section that nothing amazing has happened today. It was then that I realized that I associate the word “amazing” with momentous and often unexpected occasions. I substituted it with the word “awesome,” which I associate with any size event or occurrence. That prompted me to change the wording in other places in the prompts to fit my life and the way that I speak.  I would encourage you to do the same.

After a few days, writing the same questions over and over became tedious, so I typed the questions, leaving a space for writing underneath each one. I then printed out a bunch of the pages to glue one every day to my journal. Then I start writing. That has been so much better than handwriting the questions every day.

Of course, if you’re already digital journaling, this series of  prompts can more easily fit into your daily writing without so many steps, and without the tedium of writing the same words every day. Just copy and paste.

What do you think of the 5-Minute Journal?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What has prevented you from reaching your goals? Is part of it fear? Fear of what? Writing it all down in private, in a journal  (paper or digital) helps to process what’s going on internally. From there, you have a better stance from which to address the issue.

A journal can also help you to understand your patterns of fear as well as the things you continue to say that you want, the goals you continue to claim will be completed. Following the patterns of behavior recorded in your journal can help you  understand what you fear, at what points you tend to fail and why.

Reading my old journals where I would write that I plan to do X, Y or Z, and then seeing how little of that I had accomplished was devastating. I determined to discover where I continue to fail. A lot of it was allowing fear to make my decisions, or just not making a decision at all (which is a decision by omission).

Use your journal to help you understand what you would do if you were not afraid.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Do You Use a Table of Contents in Your Journal?

How many of you use a table of contents in your paper journal?

While it is perfectly possible to enjoy the benefits of journal writing without labeling each entry, a table of contents or an index will help to skim the journal for an entry that you will want to re-read later.

Plus, a table of contents gives you a summary of your year (or whatever time frame in which you used the journal). Sometimes you look back in wonder at all the thing you have done (or didn’t do) in a year, just by looking at the table of contents.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Tech Thoughts from a Consumer

Journey Digital Journal [A Review]

Inspired by the founder of National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, who talks about his enjoyment of digital journal writing, this month I journaled using an app on my phone.

I used the Journey brand of digital journal, which is for Android.

You type as you would a memo. (In fact, Journey  resembles the Memo Pad which comes automatically with your Samsung, but with a more aesthetically-pleasing interface.)

You insert video, photos,  stickers, etc., should you prefer to do so. I did not find an audio feature (other than whatever audio is on your video); I’m surprised since even Memo Pad allows for voice-only attachments to your entry.

There are other features which you access with an upgrade, however, there are plenty features in the free version to keep a simple digital journal.

Journey automatically dates the entry; the date and time remain even if you update. There is an option to change the date and time manually. (So that’s one up on the Memo Pad, which automatically updates your date and time when you change an entry and you cannot alter it.) When you start a fresh entry but use an old image, Journey asks whether you want to change the date from the current date to the date on the image.

journey digital journal - screenshot - Deborah Observes

To read the next journal entry on Journey, you can easily click the arrow at the bottom of your journal post (or use the timeline feature to have a big picture glimpse of your little essays). Journey, of course, comes with standard tag features and the ability to search. These features spark the feeling of creating a personal mini blog.

Journey is great for those moments when you do not have your paper journal with you, or when you need to add text to that image you have just taken so that you do not forget details of an event.

It’s a serviceable journal app to capture moments, but not so great for lengthy, soul-searching, life-altering journaling. For me, Journey would supplement my main journal writing, but not replace it.

I prefer the intimacy of a hand-written, paper journal; I’m accustomed to it. However, Journey’s ability to allow you to search for specific entries and categorize by tags is selling me on digital journal writing in general.

Ultimately, Journey is a less-clunky, journal-dedicated version of Memo Pad.

Journey digital journal might be for you if…

…you like an intuitive, streamlined, user-friendly app for journal writing.

…you need a journal app that can be used with a desktop or laptop keyboard.

…you need an Android app to capture moments while you are out and about.

…you would like to store journal entries on Google Drive.

Journey digital journal might NOT be for you if…

… you prefer to use your iPhone for journal writing. Journey is currently only for Android users.

…you prefer to journal exclusively on paper. (However, there is an option to export as a WORD document or a PDF, among other formats, should you prefer to print it off  into paper form.)

… you already use Memo Pad for digital journaling and are ok with not be able to sync the text to other devices.

Click here to view the specifics of Journey brand digital journal on Google Play.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Stop Imitating Your Heroes and Just Get Started Already

In a Facebook group, a business owner asked how to become “unstuck” in the planning stage. There are projects waiting to be finished, but she’s busy reading more content from other business owners who inspire her. How can she become “unstuck” and not just copy someone else?

I struggle through the same issues. However, I have found ways to think about them which have helped me to “unstick” myself and get something done.

REMEMBER THAT IMITATION IS A COMMON STARTING LINE

It is common to EMULATE YOUR HEROES when you start out. Children play dress up in their mother’s shoes, for instance.

Eventually, if you are self-aware, you develop what fits you, you create a custom-tailored business or life. I find that you start creating content that is unique to you when you distance yourself a bit from someone else’s content.

Whatever you ruminate on the most tends to be the most easily-accessible content that your mind can produce. Thus, to create content that is unique to your perspective, it is crucial to stop and consider what YOU think about a subject, what experiences YOU have had. Then, if you wish, go check out what someone else has to say on the subject.

Your heroes are a good jumping off point, but be sure to jump off, otherwise you become a copy.

To answer this question on Facebook, for instance, and to make sure I wasn’t copying what I had read in the comment section, I just dived in, writing from the perspective of  my own experience with the topic; I did not read the preceding replies first. After posting my comment, I then proceeded to read a few others. I’m glad that I did it that way; some of the other answers were so brilliant, I would have been intimidated had I read theirs first. When intimidated, I hesitate sharing my thoughts, thinking that I cannot help anyone. Many people tend to have this issue.

TO REDUCE PROCRASTINATION, CREATE A 1:1 RATIO OF PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION

To get started on a few projects, the following is something that I’ve done recently. For every hour that I consume business content, I must use an hour to produce something for my own business. For every hour I spend consuming Youtube videos or reading a book, I must spend an hour writing in my journal or typing an article. When I follow this rule, I usually end up creating more than that minimum 1:1 ratio.

In this way, I’m tipping the scales in favor of being a PRODUCER more than being a CONSUMER. You might choose to do it in a different way, but developing the habit of becoming a producer is what you’re after to become “unstuck.”

I fail at this all the time, mostly due to a lack of confidence in my own production. But the best way to barrel through the lack of confidence is to revisit your WHY -your reason for starting the project in the first place- then continue to produce. Wade through what you consider dreck until it’s not dreck any more.

[If you’re worried about what other people think about you or your content, read this article, based on a Cornell study, about how to handle social disapproval. I needed to be reminded of this information just yesterday.]

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING

How to Use a Journal to Remember a Recently-Deceased Relative

When a loved one dies, you might wish to remember the person by writing about your experience in your journal, writing about the deceased and keeping mementos.

Here are a few things that I have done with a journal during Aunt C’s recent illness and  death:

1. Print Text Messages

These days, some are irritated if you call them on the phone without advance notice. Instead, we send short text messages on our cell phones or other mobile devices when it is more convenient than voice-to-voice or face-to-face communication.

I’m so glad that this is the case, because text messages from loved ones who are now deceased become written (or, rather, typed) keepsakes.

I have texts from Aunt C that I will print out and place in my journal, including her last one in which she thanked me for sending a book about cancer and hope – There’s No Place Like Hope: A Guide to Beating Cancer in Mind-Sized Bites.

2. Record Their Words and Habits

One of the issues that mourners sometimes have is this: as time wears on and the person you love has been dead for a while, you fear forgetting the little things. You want to remember how they laughed, for instance, but can’t quite recall it.

Long before anyone dies, make a habit of recording interesting conversations from the people in your family, or sayings, or even what seems mundane. I would encourage recording people in your video diaries so that you have a visual and oral representation of them.

Barring that – let’s say that they are camera shy- then using your paper journal will  suffice. Be detailed in your description of the person; use similes, if needed. e.g. Her laugh is like the tinkling of a wind chime in the summer breeze – tinny, and insistent.

Let’s say that you did not record much about that person while they were alive. Then, just after the death, when you feel you are ready, record as much detail as you can.  Don’t scold yourself for not having done this sooner. Be kind to yourself.

(One of the great things about social media is that many people have shared their voice and face on the internet; they have already recorded themselves. Try to acquire copies of those videos, if you can.)

3. Attach The Funeral Program to the Journal

These days, it is easy for a family or a funeral home to create printed programs for the event.  The program is usually both an order of service (e.g. song, prayer, song, eulogy) as well as an obituary.

The printed funeral program is another keepsake that you can attach or adhere to your journal.

I acquired two programs from Aunt C’s funeral, cut them at the fold, and glued them to pages in my journal. I used two in order to display the content on the back and the front of the program; you may use just one program, if you wish, and copy the back.

4. Journal At the Funeral

Take a journal to the funeral; write what you would like to capture about the event, or about yourself, or about the deceased, or about the people that you have met.

One way to help yourself remember the details of the event (or just to calm down if you are overstimulated) is to pay attention to your 5 senses and write about them. (e.g. Who do I see? What one thing do I hear? What one scent do I smell? What do I taste? What textures do I feel on my skin right now?) Write down those observations. Whether at a funeral or not, some of my most vivid memories have come from moments when I just drink in basic things in my immediate surroundings.

If you journal at the funeral, be aware that others might look over your shoulder and see what you write. I tend to journal only about the funeral when I’m at the funeral, i.e. I take notes. When at the funeral, I do not write anything revealing, or too personal, or anything that I wouldn’t mind someone else reading while I’m there.

If the person eulogizing the deceased knows her well, the speech is usually informative and chock full of stories that you can record in your journal.

If the person giving the eulogy does not know the deceased very well, the speech tends to be an impersonal lecture. However, he or she might still have a few words worth worth your time; take notes. I do not put too much pressure on myself to summarize the eulogy if the person did not know the deceased; I just grab one concept from the whole speech, then write about something else.

At some funerals, there is a point in the service when audience members may go to a microphone for a couple of minutes and reflect on the life of the person who has died. Usually, the audience member tells a story about one moment in time when the deceased was kind, or entertaining, or a welcome presence, etc. These are often stories that I’ve never heard before, so I take notes. I summarized these 2-minute reflections about Aunt C in my journal during her funeral.

You may decide to do all of this in your journal later at home. However, I have found that I tend to forget some of the things I want to record unless I’m taking notes in the moment, as if it is an important class.

(Actually, a funeral can be an important class in life. Everyone is thinking about death and what is important to them. It’s a time of reflection.)

5. Consider an heirloom journal

Let’s say that the deceased did not leave much of a personal record of themselves – their opinions, their thoughts on life, their thoughts on the family, etc. There’s little you can do about that.

However, you can consider leaving YOUR journals behind so that your relatives have a keepsake from you.  The heirlooms might be your daily journals or a separate journal specifically dedicated to what you want your relatives to know about you, about life, about concepts that you find important.

Aunt C did not keep a journal (at least, not that we know of); she was a private individual. However, after her death, a few relatives perused her papers to get a better sense of who she was, that which she never really told us about herself. It was a bit impersonal since the papers were diplomas, certificates, office papers, bills, etc., but they still told a story. It would have been nice to have something a little more personal from her.

Give the gift of your personal story to your loved ones by leaving your journals in your will.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you are worried about what can happen to your journal after you die, read this article to consider your options: Journaling Q and A, Part 1.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Thoughts on Influence

As we looked through Aunt C’s personal property the other day, preparing to give away most of it, I noticed items here and there that I had given to her through the years.

  • Aunt C displayed prominently a personalized birthday card that I sent her 6 years ago. I had never noticed that on her shelf before.
  • A handful of DVDs, which I loaned to her long before her hospitalization, were next to the television. I had forgotten about them.
  • Sari fabric that I brought home from Brixton 15 years ago was right there as well.

Whether I had a positive influence on my aunt’s life, I never thought to ask. It must have been pleasant enough for Aunt C to hold on to a few items from me. However, you never know.

One thing I do know: I have sent notes to people describing what a wonderful influence they have had on me. They have those words in black and white, so there will be no mistake about how dear they are to me or how they have helped me.

From personal notes given to janitors and supervisors during summer internships in my student days, to personalized birthday cards, to random letters to a relative sent because it’s Tuesday, letter writing has been my way of expressing gratitude for the positive encounter provided by another person.

I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy new stationary and a fountain pen or sky write “I love you.” However, I would encourage you to find your way of expressing to someone else how they have helped you in life and make a habit of it.

You may never know your full effect on another person, but help other people to understand their influence on you.

Peace,

Deborah

Introverts

How to Handle a Funeral as an Introvert

My family recently held a funeral. It is the kind of funeral where dozens of cousins and others from all over the planet join together in one spot to remember our deceased relative.

From the carpooling, to the hosting duties, to having to meet and greet people you haven’t seen in a while, to viewing images and hearing stories of the deceased,  it’s an intense hour or two for so many reasons.

When you are introverted and would rather be alone with your thoughts, you might feel the overwhelming, almost claustrophobic, social atmosphere in ways that others do not.

Here are a few tips for introverts that I have used recently and in the past at funerals:

  • You might decide that the funeral is not for you, that it doesn’t help you grieve. You might decide not to go at all. Respect your own way of healing; do not be pressured into attending if you would rather not.
  • Ahead of time, spend as much time to yourself as you require, or around the individuals that you enjoy most. Once you arrive at the funeral, you will be surrounded by two kinds of people: those you like and those who are helping you to practice patience. Fully charge yourself (like a battery) beforehand.
  • Even with the best of intentions, you still might feel the need to step out of the room for a minute or step out of the room until it is time to leave the property. That is perfectly fine. Each person, introverted or not, has her or his own way to grieve and process a death. At a certain interval, I walked away from the crowd in the building to be alone at the cemetery for awhile; it was the only peaceful place.
  • Journal during the funeral. Journal writing can be a solitary endeavor where you slow down, calm down, and organize your jumbled thoughts. I like to take notes on the different stories that people are telling about the deceased. Be aware, however, that other people might look over your shoulder to see what you are writing.
  • If the funeral is a two-part event, wherein there is a memorial and then food is served, skip the meal, if you wish. It’s just more crowding and how-do-you-dos.
  • If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, if you are having sensory overload, concentrate on something. Ask yourself, what one thing do I see? What one thing do I smell? What one thing do I taste? What one sound do I hear? What one texture do I feel right now? These are also good journal prompts.
  • If  it is not too much for you, be a listening ear to someone else who wishes to get something off her chest. I find that commiserating with someone that I like, helping her with her problems, takes my mind off of my own tendency to bolt out of the crowd.
  • After the funeral, do something enjoyable or relaxing. The weekend after the funeral, when I would usually concentrate on business or work,  I did absolutely nothing that wasn’t enjoyable to me. I thought about my deceased relative, read a book that I like, wrote in my journal and just relaxed.

What are your tips for introverts at funerals?

Peace,

Deborah

Brain Drops · JOURNALING

Do You Reread Your Journals?

People write in journals for a variety of reasons. Depending on the purpose of the journal, rereading it can be useful. Sometimes, however, rereading the journal serves no purpose for you or perhaps it is too painful.

However, for those of us who use journals to record our history, our progress (or lack of it), rereading is essential.

I recently stumbled across Tim Ferriss’ book – Tools of Titans. In his introduction, I was struck by his use of journals. He calls them “notes.”

“I’m a compulsive note-taker…. I have recorded nearly every workout since age 18 or so…. It is the collection of my life’s recipes.

“My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.

“For instance, let’s say I stumble upon a picture of myself from June 5, 2007, and I think, ‘I really wish I looked like that again.’ No problem. I’ll crack open a dusty volume from 2007, review the 8 weeks of training and food logs preceding June 5, repeat them and -voila- end up looking nearly the same as my younger self (minus the hair). It’s not always that easy, but it often is.”

For Ferriss, workout journals and food logs are important.

What would be important for you to recall from your journals?

For me, recalling what I was doing a year ago  helps me to understand my progress and my process in any given area of life. Have I made progress on the goals mentioned last year?

Approximately a year ago this month, I said that I wanted to create a business. I’ve set those gears in motion.

One of the things I now do that I wasn’t doing last year this time is use the journal to record my goals for the week, re-reading the goals daily, and revamping the next week’s goals on Saturday.

A music group that I like asks themselves at least three goal-related questions every year, questions that I have adapted to a weekly form and ask myself every Saturday in my journal. They are these:

  1. What accomplishments excited you this week?
  2. What would you like to accomplish next week?
  3. Give yourself encouragement for the next week.

I answer these questions. Under accomplishments for the week, I note daily which things I’ve done and which I have not. I reread the answers at the end of the week. Sometimes I look back on the week and see lots of notes that something did not happen, that I did not accomplish this thing or that. It can be discouraging. But the great difference between last year and this year is that I correct the failings quicker because I  reread the list of things to do every week.

My journal is also where I record my feelings or thoughts about family, business, technology or anything else I’m thinking about. Not only is my to-do list there, but the mental state that I’m in when I accomplish (or fail to accomplish) a thing is right there as well. This helps me to see patterns of thought that I can change to alter my behavior, map my behavior towards the goal.

The person that I once was is always a familiar stranger. This is comforting. Since I made such terrible career decisions in my youth, I am forever in doubt that I’ll know what future self wants. However, according to my journals, the terrible decisions occurred when I stopped listening to myself and followed the crowd. Now, I listen to myself more, I follow the way that I am bent more, even if my behavior is difficult to explain. (This is another reason that rereading my journals comes in handy – if I can explain myself to myself, I have a better shot at being able to explain myself to other people.)

Do you reread your journals? Why do you do so?

Peace,

Deborah

 

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Handle Social Disapproval [Cornell Study]

According to a Cornell study, social approval (or lack of it) does not affect people who have a sense of purpose. Or, rather, it does not affect them as much as it does those whose self-esteem hangs on being liked.

Anthony Burrow, a co-author of the study, defines a sense of purpose as

“ongoing motivation that is self-directed, oriented toward the future and beneficial to others.”

How do you develop a stronger sense of purpose to create a sustainable and healthier mindset?

Let’s look at the first area of purpose in Burrow’s definition.

Sense of Purpose Factor #1 – Ongoing motivation that is self-directed.

Check these areas of your plans to make sure you have a strong enough sense of purpose:

  1. Define (or re-define) why you do what you do –  Is your purpose well-defined? Do you know when you’ve reached your goals? Are they measurable by something other than social media likes?
  2. Focus -Is your business purpose always at the forefront of your workspace? Zig Ziglar, the famed motivational speaker, motivated himself for weight loss by having the picture of a person at his ideal size somewhere where he could see it often.
  3. Set Your Goals – Make sure there are big pictures goals as well as daily goals. If daily goals are nebulous, you run the risk of being distracted by blog stats and such.
  4. Plan regular meetings with mentors and accountability partners – Everyone is ignorant, just in different subjects. Your mentor can see what you might not see about how you run your life or business. Your accountability partner helps you run the extra mile.
  5. Understand how you function.  e.g. What’s your personality type? In what sort of environment do you do your best work?
  6. Regular self-examination and paying attention to the results of your goals.

Let’s take a look at the second and third areas in Burrow’s definition of a sense of purpose – oriented towards the future and beneficial to others

Sense of Purpose Factor#2 – Ongoing motivation that is oriented toward the future.

To develop a sense of purpose and not give way to the fickleness of social likes,  the second thing we must have is an ongoing motivation with a future orientation, according to Burrow.

The past is great -it can teach us many things, it can help us not to reinvent the wheel.  As C.S. Lewis says,

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

In other words, strike a balance between now and then.

We must also appreciate and anticipate the future, moving ever forward if we are to have a sense of purpose and not be swayed by social likes (or a lack of them).

How do we gain and maintain this future orientation in our motives?

Neil Patel has written The 7 Secrets of Self-Motivated Entrepreneurs. His article can be useful even if you are not a businessperson, no matter what your goals might be. The biggest takeaway I see in his article is this – to keep looking forward, make your goal a part of your daily routine in someway (emphasis on daily). Put it in your face, in the mirror, in your pocket, on your desk. Wherever you need to encounter your goal, put it there and interact with it or chip away at it every single day.

 

Sense of Purpose Factor #3 – Ongoing motivation that is beneficial to others.

We have discussed before how the sweet spot of success lies where your interests overlap with the needs of others. This seems to be Burrows’ conclusion as well. Ongoing motivation that helps you to weather social disapproval is not only self-directed and future oriented, it is also beneficial to other people.

It has been my experience that when I’m concerned so heavily about what people think of me, I might achieve something, but I am miserable the whole time. When you seek to help others with their problems, you’re not concentrating so heavily on your own issues. In a way, you have derailed your mind from the “woe is me” track that it was on.

This is not to say that your challenges are not important. They are. However, a totally self-involved set of goals will not help you create that sense of purpose  which helps you to weather the storm of social dislikes. There must be some outer direction in your plans.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. How do you handle social dislikes? Let me know.

Introverts

Introvert at a Family Reunion

Family reunions can crop up at any time, especially during holidays. You love your relatives,  but the crowds can be draining for those of us who are introverts and gather our energy from solitude or quiet. We are like the battery in your phone -plug us in,  leave us alone,  and we will recharge.

Here are a few tips to help an introvert at a family reunion.

~ Remember why you are at the reunion.  If you are there to get to know people,  have a goal to better understand at least one of your relatives.  After you have accomplished this task,  consider the event a success and go home.

~ If you are on the reunion committee,  use your influence to suggest quiet times,  more breaks between scheduled programs,  or help to create quiet corners in the event space.

~ Even if you are not on the reunion committee,  and it is an informal reunion,  volunteer to help behind the scenes where there tends to be more work going on and less chatter.

~ Take a break from people when you need to do so.  Self-care is not rude.

~ If the reunion is at or near a hotel,  rent a room there. Quietly steal away to decompress in the room when needed.

~ If the reunion is in a more rustic area and you are camping,  rise before everyone else,  drink in the beautiful vista, and enjoy the quiet by yourself before the events start.

~ Help other introverts. As you understand your relatives more,  you will learn who also needs quiet time;  help them find it. You might need to run interference for an introverted relative by distracting Aunt Fern with chit chat so that Cousin Chad may escape to solitude.

At a recent reunion,  I discovered that one of my younger cousins does not like crowds and would cry whenever too many people engaged with him. His parents, however, were there to socialize. I volunteered to supervise him away from crowds and he seemed perfectly contented.

~ Have a long talk with a relative that you like. The familiarity tends to ease the frustration of crowds.  Before you know it,  the event will be over.

~ Arrive in your own mode of transportation so that you can leave when needed.

~ If you carpool to the event,  choose to ride with two relatives who love to chat with each other.   Engage in the conversation  only when you feel like doing so.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Why Do You Write?

We all write for different reasons. Here are a few that I’ve found.

~ You write as a natural extension of the skill of reading, wanting to recreate  or create your own version of what you’ve seen.

~ Eventually, you write out of habit.

~ You write, sometimes, to review what you honestly think about a subject.

~ You write to express  yourself and put your stamp on all of the information you’ve ingested through the years.

~ You write to emulate some of your writing heroes. Sometimes what you read inspires you to take out your own pen and paper and give a little of yourself to the public.

Why do you write?

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Digital Journal Vs. Paper Journal Debate, NaJoWriMo Founder Weighs In

Author and founder of the National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, weighs in on the debate of digital journal vs. paper journal in his article, “10 Reasons I Prefer Digital Journal Writing Over Pen and Paper.”

My favorite of his reasons for using a digital journal over a paper one is that it is easily searchable. One of my greatest problems has been in finding a way easily to return to specific parts of my journals. Right now I use a table of contents. I’ve tried indexing, but it’s just too time-consuming.

I have used both. I more readily use the paper journal since it lends to a feeling of privacy even in a crowd. Sitting there, cradling your book, you are visiting an old friend, it seems. Currently, a digital journal requires lots of tapping and typing (or talk-to-text dictation), which my brain associates with work and not much that is personal. But that is a quirk.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. The best journal is the one that works for you. We have discussed before that  a journal is there to serve you and your needs. If a digital journal works for you, go for it.

In a way, this website serves as a kind of digital journal.  Many of the thoughts that I free write about on paper every day becomes fodder for this website.

Which do you prefer? Do you use both? Do you use someone other journaling method?

Sincerely,

Deborah

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles

Ziglar Quotes for Motivation

Hilary “Zig” Ziglar (1926-2012) was an author and motivational speaker filled with pithy quotes for overcoming obstacles and continuing with your goals. Here are a few that I hope will be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Zig Ziglar Quotes

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”

“You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations before they arise.”

“You are a success when you have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and are optimistic about your future.”

“[Move] from survival to stability, from stability to success, from success to significance.”

“Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do. It is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you.”

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

“Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.”

“Opportunity does not lie in the job; it lies in the individual who looks at the possibilities instead of the problems.”

Bonus:

In the video below, Ziglar quotes another person -Joe Sabah- who says, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Brain Drops · JOURNALING

How to Journal: 7 Journal Writers Give Advice

Whether you have just begun journal writing, or have been doing it for years, or are taking it up again after a hiatus, these fellow journal writers are here to inspire you in the journey. I’ve compiled quotes and links to their full content. Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Deborah

1. Arnold Bennett, Author

“There is only one valid reason for beginning a diary—namely, that you find pleasure in beginning it; and only one valid reason for continuing a diary—namely, that you find pleasure in continuing it. You may find profit in doing so, but that is not the main point—though it is a point. You will most positively experience pleasure in reading it after a long interval; but that is not the main point either—though it is an important point. A diary should find its sufficient justification in the writing of it. If the act of writing is not its own reward, then let the diary remain for ever unwritten.”

2. Jade Herriman, Art Therapist

“Check out the journals of writers, artists and scientists for inspiration – in doing this you will see how many options are available for a journal, the format is not set and can reflect your interests and passions.”

3. Alexandra Johnson, Author

“As my shelves filled with separate notebooks -travel journals, commonplace books full of quotations, writer’ notebooks- so they filled with the work that had come out of them. Now, I never have to worry about getting started. In dry seasons, all I have to do is open an old journal. Inside, something waits… to spark a new project. I learned long ago not to care what the journals look like, or if they’re well written (they’re usually not). or how often I fill the pages.” – from the book Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal

4. Kristin at Journaling Saves

“Remember that journaling should be enjoyable (most of the time). If you take the task too seriously or put too much pressure on yourself, journaling will become a burden instead of a gift. Keep a spirit of play, and infuse your journal with a little humor. Adding art, creativity, color or heart to your journal keeps the process fresh and inviting. ”

5. Jen Morris at Jen Morris Creative

“[We] think we need a good 30 minutes undisturbed to sit down and journal, but really it can be done in bits and pieces throughout the day. For example, if you leave [an art journal] open to a spread you’re working on, it can be easy to swipe a bit of paint across the paper right before you head out to work. That literally only takes 2 minutes. ”

6. Brett and Kay McKay Online Magazine Editors

“A journal is basically a chance for your past self to lend counsel to your present self.

[Simply] writing about your feelings and frustrations helps you focus on what’s really going on in your life and in your head, so that you can come up with a solution to your problems.”

7. Barbara Sher, Author

“Let’s end the notion that ideas have no value unless they turn into a business or have some other practical use. Save them all in a beautiful book like Leonardo did. You might want to give them away someday, perhaps to someone who needs an idea. Or your great-great-grandchildren might love knowing what a fascinating mind you had. Or your biographer might be very happy after you’re gone.”  – from the book Refuse to Choose

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Unchain Your Brain

How to Think about Regret

Thoughts on regret.

  • It seems that regret should be handled like pain – it’s a warning that something is wrong and should be addressed immediately.
  • Regret seems to be useless beyond that initial stab of discomfort. Otherwise, you’ll end up trying to change what is unchangeable- the past- when you could move forward on some aspect of life.
  • Mistakes are lessons, sometimes expensive lessons, sometimes opportunities are lost, sometimes people who you cared about are no longer responding in the way that you prefer because of what you’ve done (or omitted doing). These are tough circumstances, but think of them as lessons. What can you learn from this? Glean what is beneficial from the situation.
  • When you train yourself to see a rough spot as potentially beneficial to you, you begin not to fear making a mistake as much.
  • Note that you do not need to be born this way. (I’m not sure that anyone is born thinking this way). You can train yourself to start seeing problems as opportunities for improvement, instead of pits of despair and regret.
  • How do you train yourself to see problems, not as potential things to regret, but as lessons that benefit you? Well, how do you build muscles? Daily. It will not be easy. Remember to practice patience with yourself. And try not to do all of this alone.
  • To train yourself to see problems as benefits, it helps to write down what is good about the terrible situation. It might take a while to write this list, because your brain might be stubbornly stuck in pouting mode, but it can be done. Review that list regularly. You are rewiring your brain to focus on what’s good.
  • This rewiring of your brain does not mean you should keep doing the thing that led to your situation in the first place, it is simply a way of viewing life to get you out of the rut of regret.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Like Your Life to Look Like?

Picture your ideal life. What does it look like? Are you working 6 months then off to explore other interests for the rest of the year? Are you speaking at conferences, sharing your experiences in life? Are you simply making twice as much as your current salary, but from home?

Pause to think about what you want, what you actually want, not what you think you should want. (We’ve talked about the “shackles of the shoulds” before.)  Write down your answer and then seek a career coach (non-traditional coach or otherwise) to help.  To paraphrase Barbara Sher, the author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was,  attitude is not the dream killer, isolation is.

Start on your ideal life today.

Peace,

Deborah