- What are your holiday shopping plans for this year?
- What type of meal prep will you be doing for the holiday season?
- List some of your favorite cold-weather meals.
- Have you experienced any challenges in your business recently?
- What types of business sales can you do this month?
- How can you take more accountability this month?
- December 7th is Letter Writing Day – Write a letter to yourself about any topic.
- If you could write a letter to anyone, who would it be?
- Do you believe you are honest with yourself?
- Plan some fun crafts to do indoors on cold days.
- How can you have a more productive December?
- What are some habits that would improve your productivity?
- What is something you are proud of?
- List the movies that cheer you up no matter what.
- It is the final quarter of the year – How is your business going?
- List 3-5 of your top priorities in your life.
- Draw a picture of what you think of in December.
- Write down some ways to be more organized this month.
- Do you think you have good survival skills?
- If you could wake up in any season, what would it be?
- December 21st is Winter Solstice – How are you going to celebrate?
- How is this holiday season different from the last?
- What is a funny memory you remember from a past holiday season?
- What family traditions do you continue with your own kids?
- Has your business gone through any changes this month?
- Describe a dream day in your dream business.
- If today was your last day, how would you spend it?
- If you got on a cruise right now, where would you go?
- Write down some goals you have for the new year.
- Begin working on your New Years’ Resolutions.
- What brought you the most gratitude this month?
- Today is November 1st, if you live where daylight savings time ends how does this make you feel?
- Write down your top goals for the month.
- What colors do you associate with this time of year and why?
- Have you thought about running some Black Friday sales for your business?
- Are you venturing out for Black Friday this year or just planning on shopping online?
- It’s Family Stories month, write a Family Story that you would like to share with others.
- With the weather changing how is this going to affect your lifestyle?
- What can you do this month to keep exercising and staying healthy?
- It’s Vegan month, can you take one of your favorite recipes and make it meatless? Share your results with your friends.
- With longer nights create a book or movie list.
- Remembrance Day – write about what this means for you and your family.
- What hobby would you like to start this winter?
- It’s World Kindness Week – what act of kindness have you seen or done?
- Where would you like your business or career to be in then next year?
- Pick two fall vegetables that you would like to use and look up some new recipes.
- If someone told you they need to be motivated, what advice would you give them?
- Write about what the word ‘cozy’ means to you.
- Thanksgiving is just around the corner, how are you planning on celebrating this year?
- What was the best thing that happened to you today?
- What do you love about where you live?
- What is your best skill?
- What are you most proud of accomplishing?
- Make a list of all the things you are grateful for.
- What one thing currently inspires you the most? Why?
- What challenges have you dealt with this year?
- Happy Thanksgiving, what does this day mean to you?
- What are you shopping for on Black Friday, or what would you love to get if you were shopping?
- What Small Business Saturday deals are you looking for if any?
- What puts a smile on your face?
- What plans do you have for December?
If you’ve started any of the other journals by now, you’ll know that a personal development journal starts off the same way. Begin by dreaming about your up-leveled self and your ideal life (a carryover theme from Lesson 1). Now think about the action steps you need in order to become the newest version of yourself. Put those into action and continue journaling your successes and struggles as you break through barriers.
As your journaling habit becomes reinforced, you may decide to get bold and write a journal entry for all these topics. Don’t force it, however. Journaling is your process and it will be different from others. Choose the journal topic that is on your mind that day or make a point of alternating a different journal every day. There’s no right or wrong, so long as you continue journaling.
Choose ONE prompt each day and dedicate 5-10 minutes writing your answer. If your time runs longer because you have a lot to write, so be it.
- Are you happy with your life right now?
- What’s one thing you want to change about yourself?
- Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
- When you feel down, how do you cheer yourself up?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- Are you happy with your work/job? Why or why not?
- Write about a fear you have. How do you overcome it? Do you need help overcoming it?
- What do you need more of in your life?
- What do you need to let go of?
- Explore why/if you have difficulty letting go.
- What are 5 ways you can get out of your comfort zone this month/year?
- What are 3 things you’re passionate about?
- What are 5 things you’re really good at?
- What motivates you to keep going?
- How can you show yourself more love?
- What negative mindsets do you need to let go?
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- How can you add happiness or joy to your daily life?
- What are 10 things you love about yourself?
- What makes you unique?
- Create a forgiveness list of those who have wronged you.
- Have you been the best spouse, friend, sibling, etc. to others? Create a forgiveness list for yourself.
- What is your favorite self-care activity? Do you practice self-care enough? How can you add more to your day/week?
- What is one thing you always wanted to learn? Why? Why haven’t you followed through?
- What are 5 insecurities about yourself? What can you do to overcome them?
- Do you let other people’s opinions affect you? Why? How can you deflect their negativity?
- Write 10 positive affirmations about yourself.
- Do you make decisions based on confidence or fear? Why?
- Do you like change or find it difficult to adapt? Why?
- Describe your life in one word.
- What is one behavior that is holding you back? How can you change it?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What is the first think you think of when looking in a mirror? How does that make you feel?
- What is the scariest thing you’ve done? Did that change you?
- How do you handle stressful situations? What would you like to do differently?
- How do you handle confrontation? What would you like to do differently?
- Do you feel you have a voice in all your relationships? How can you make yourself heard more?
- Visualize your dream life. Write about how it makes you feel.
- What changes do you need to make to achieve your dream life?
- Do your family and friends support your dream life goals? Why or why not?
- What are your biggest distractions?
- What skills do you have that others don’t?
- List 4 things that come easily to you and 4 things that do not.
- What is your biggest reason for getting up in the morning?
- Are your current routines getting you closer to your goals?
- List 30 things that make you smile.
- Name something you wish others knew about you.
- Describe yourself using 10 words.
- What is the nicest thing someone has said to you? What was your reaction?
- What’s your purpose in life?
After you’ve worked out what the new version of you looks like, think about how it compares to your current life. How would you feel waking up in the morning, and how would you address struggles along the way? In the morning or evening, think about how things would have gone differently if you were already the new version of yourself. What are the elements of your days that would feel better? Note that change sometimes requires sacrifice, so also consider some of what you might give up in order to become the new version of yourself. Think about what change will mean for your life and use it as motivation for focusing on your goals.
Being Happy and Grateful
Similar to keeping a gratitude journal, a journal starting with the prompt “I’m so happy and grateful for…” can be an invaluable tool for reaching your next level. Write in the present tense but write as the person you aim to be in the future. Use this exercise to fully embody who you want to become and focus on the feelings you experience and how they make you both happy and grateful. Practice this exercise every morning, as it’s a powerful technique for giving yourself the motivation you need to level up.
Consider a Dedicated Approach
Think about starting a journaling practice dedicated to focusing on your future self. Although the journaling techniques you develop can be more than enough for leveling up yourself, practicing techniques developed by others might provide a fresh outlook and help you gain a new perspective on yourself. The Holistic Psychologist, for example, offers a free “Future Self Journal” program that offers a framework for helping you become aware of subconscious patterns affecting your life and uncovering how to shift them to more productive thinking techniques. Make sure to spend some time reading about journaling techniques developed by others, as trying out new ideas can lead to better results.
Redefine What Journaling Means to You
Journaling doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all approach, and you’ll need to take some time to find out which journaling techniques work best to meet your needs. However, you’ll also want to think about what journaling means to you and how you can better use it to meet your goals and live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Journaling isn’t just about writing down events and how you feel; it’s also a means of thinking about who you want to become and envisioning your future self. It’s about finding out how to transform from the person you are today to the person you want to be in the future. Journaling can be meditative, and it can serve as an invaluable source of motivation and a catalyst for real change. Don’t just go through the motions: Make journaling a part of your identity and a framework for achieving your dreams.
Becoming the Next Level Version of You
Complacency can feel comforting, but business owners often find that complacency can lead to malaise and stunted growth. Although journaling is great for being the best version of your current self, it’s also an excellent technique for deciding who, exactly, you want to be, and it helps you visualize the next level version of yourself and what it would mean to you. Above all, it’s great for developing the skills you need to achieve your goals and enjoy becoming a new and improved person. Although the road can be a bit frustrating at times, the results are well worth the effort.
We all know what a comfort zone feels like; it’s that space where you are content and comfortable with the way things are in life. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life in your comfort zone but rest assured, you won’t see any of the changes you’ve dreamed about. No increase in clients or income. No release of your signature product or planning an exclusive tropical retreat. For any changes to occur, you need to step away from that comfort zone.
Think about the next level version of you that you’ve addressed in your journal. How does this person differ from who you’ve been in the past? How does she tackle tasks in ways that are new to you? Journaling provides a framework for asking yourself important questions about leveling up before tackling individual tasks, and you’ll eventually use your journaling to find out which questions to ask about yourself and proceed as the “next level you” would proceed. View your journal as a catalyst and use it to serve as a guide.
Next Level Habits
Just as building the habit of daily journaling takes time, so does building the habits of becoming a new version of yourself. Use your journal to find out which habits you want to build over time and use it to track your progress during the days and weeks. Don’t just think about habits as obligations; think of them as activities you perform as your idealized version of yourself.
Two different strategies regarding building habits are quite popular so the choice is yours as to which you follow. The first is based on doing the new behavior for a very short period of time every single day. For instance, doing one pushup a day in the hopes of working up to 50 pushups a day. Increase the number each week until you reach your goal.
The second strategy is to complete the new behavior every day for 21 days to form a new habit. While this may not work well for the 50 pushups a day example, you can choose another habit, such as clean eating or increasing your water intake. By the time you reach your 21-day mark, you’ll be grabbing for your water bottle on Day 22 without thinking about it.
When you embody this new version of yourself that you’re aiming to achieve, you signal to your mind that you’re becoming a new person and that the habits you’ve focused on are a part of your life. Again, change won’t happen overnight, but journaling helps you make steady progress.
Making Better Decisions
Another part of journaling is focusing on how you make decisions and conditioning yourself to make better decisions than your previous self might have made. We make more decisions during the day than we realize, and we rarely have the time to sit down and think carefully about all of them. Journaling to make better decisions involves thinking through how your mind works when you’re faced with a decision to make.
How do you recognize when you’re venturing down the path of making suboptimal choices? How can you realize when you need to slow down and spend time thinking through factors more carefully? Leveling up involves focusing on your decision-making process, and you’ll eventually develop habits more in tune with the next level version of you.
Again, this is not a time to feel shame about decisions or to wonder “what would have happened if.” Acknowledge your emotions around making a decision and the process your brain goes through. Examine the possible outcomes if you had done something differently during your process and if those outcomes would have been better or worse than what actually happened.
Journaling helps you focus on many of the small things in your life. However, you’ll also want to take some time to think about bigger issues. What is the new version of you more inclined to say “yes” to that previous versions of you would be afraid to take on? How does your new view of life affect what you’re inclined to take on, and how does the person you want to become face challenging and even potentially frightening issues?
Growth often requires going outside of your comfort zone, and journaling helps you find out where you need to push past previous boundaries. Saying “yes” to every opportunity or invitation that comes your way surely makes for an over-crowded calendar; but saying “yes” to those things that challenge you to get out of your comfort zone should be definite commitments.
If you need even more inspiration about how saying “yes” can change you, check out this TED Talk with Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes talking about her Year of Saying Yes.
Similarly, becoming a new version of you requires practicing self-discipline and learning how to say “no” to certain questions. What are some sources of distractions that lead to you becoming less productive in the past, and how can you prepare yourself to say no when faced with temptations?
Also, think about which elements the new version of you will say no to that your previous version would have accepted. Refusing an opportunity can be difficult but thriving as a business owner means prioritizing which opportunities are most important to focus on. Your journal serves as a means of managing your priorities and tracking your successes and temporary setbacks.
Remember, too, that saying “no” is its own sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for saying “no”. This is often a difficult habit to begin but you’ll feel freedom once you stop making excuses for saying “no”.
Now that you’ve explored some of your current beliefs and hang ups, it’s time to turn those negatives into positives and write a new story. Journaling about yourself isn’t just about addressing who you are today, so make sure to spend some of your journaling time focusing on who you want to become in the future. Tell a story about yourself you’d like to see realized in both the near and distant future and flesh out this story as much as possible.
Think about your limiting beliefs and envision a future where you aren’t bound by these limitations. Take a view of the big picture: How will you be writing about yourself once you’ve uncovered how to level up your life and become the next iteration of yourself? How will your life differ, and how will the changes you make lead to improved happiness and success?
Setting Goals Through Journaling
One of the most powerful tools for becoming the next version of you is setting goals that help you become your ideal version of yourself. Every morning take some time to journal your goals for the day and the upcoming days. Doing so helps you define your goals and set concrete elements for leveling up.
Also take some time to look over your goals from the previous day. Did you reach all of your goals? What helped you succeed, and what are some things that held you back? Are there steps you can take today to improve the odds of reaching all of your goals? Planning is an essential part of success, and journaling is a powerful way to make your planning more concrete and personal. Use journaling as a means of setting your goals down in a concrete manner and finding out how to achieve them.
Go one step further and create long-term goals for your future. Dream big; think about where you want to live, what your dream home looks like, and what activities fill your ideal day. Knowing what you want to accomplish in the future allows you to set smaller milestone goals that will lead you there, similar to a road map.
Remember, goals can change at any time; they are not set in stone so don’t be afraid to put those goals down on paper. Sometimes reaching those smaller milestones will help you realize the bigger goal wasn’t really what you wanted to pursue after all.
Make Your Journal an Extension of You
Goal-setting journaling shouldn’t just be a routine you go through in the morning. Although dedication is necessary, setting your goals daily in a journal will eventually become a framework through which you view your minute-by-minute activities and plan for success. Eventually, your journal will become an extension of you, a conduit through which you strive for and reach the goals you need to level yourself up. The process will take some time, so make sure to be patient and forgive yourself if you don’t make progress every single day.
What’s Your Definition of Success?
No matter who you speak with, every one of those people will have a different definition of success. Some might aim for that six-figure business while others might aim for living off the grid in a hunting cabin. Still others may be focused on raising strong, independent children or retiring early at age 55.
Your definition of success will ultimately aid you in making decisions. Knowing this definition and your ultimate goals in life – and keeping these thoughts foremost in your journaling – will help you recognize opportunities and conversations that can propel you toward this success.
Who do you want to become? It seems like a benign question but when you really sit and think about the type of person you want to be, it’s not that easy a question to answer.
Even though the self-help section of any bookstore is overflowing with titles from various gurus, many people don’t pay attention to themselves and just roll through life, day by day, surviving whatever gets tossed their way. But if you keep a personal development journal, you can explore all the pieces that make you who you are as well as set personal goals and challenge yourself to take actions that lead you outside your comfort zone.
Regular journaling isn’t just about staying static. When you have a journal, your goal should be to consistently find out how to “level up” and become the next level version of you. Although journaling will likely become a valuable part of your identity, thriving as a business owner demands finding ways to consistently improve, both personally and professionally. Having a mind toward the future will fuel you to become even better over time. Your journal can serve as a powerful centerpiece for your transition to a new and better life.
What’s Holding You Back?
Leveling up requires setting goals, but perhaps the most important step is finding out what’s holding you back personally and professionally. In particular, you can use journaling to find out what beliefs you hold that result in artificial limits about what you can become. Dedicate some of your journaling time to focusing on your beliefs, both positive and negative, and question whether some of these limiting beliefs are actually based on reality.
Although you might not have a breakthrough every time you sit down and write in your journal, you’ll learn, through experience, which of your beliefs are limiting your potential for reaching the next level of you. This process might take some time but uncovering what’s holding you back is essential for growth.
To conquer limiting beliefs, write the belief down in your journal and realize that this is just a belief, not a truth or fact. In your journal entry, list the reasons why the belief is holding you back. Turn this negative belief into a positive by writing affirmations that help you banish the limiting belief out of your mind. Just because you “believe” you can’t do something (or aren’t good at something, etc.) doesn’t mean it’s true.
Visualize yourself living outside of that belief and boost your mood by rereading client testimonials. We are our own worst critics and often it takes the kind words of others to see the truth
The Story of You
We constantly tell ourselves stories about ourselves, and we often have a pre-planned version of these stories that we share with those who we meet. By journaling, we can set aside the time and energy needed to more deeply examine the stories we tell and how they shape our view of ourselves.
Be as detailed as possible, and make sure to be bold enough to examine parts of your story that might make you feel somewhat uncomfortable at first. Remember that your journal is intended for an audience of one: Yourself. Don’t be afraid to touch on uncomfortable topics, as journaling about them gives you control over your narrative and helps you identify potential barriers to thriving.
Over time, journaling will help you feel more comfortable with uncovering your barriers in a frank and empowering manner. It’s important to focus on your strengths and how they can improve over time, as building on your strengths can lead to a better version of yourself.
However, you’ll also need to identify your weaknesses, as knocking down barriers is key for your growth.
Journaling provides a unique means of serving as your own therapist and asking tough questions can lead to breakthroughs. Again, don’t expect life-changing revelations every time you sit down to journal. Feel free to ask questions about yourself that you can’t answer right away. Addressing them over time can help you find the solutions you’re looking for and giving yourself the time needed to uncover answers is essential.
You’ll notice that some of the prompts from your personal financial journal can work in this business journal as well. Always keep your business and personal finances separate but you can certainly explore the similarities within a single journal.
Consider this business journal a place to brainstorm your ideas for growth. Of course, add some financial information in this journal as it fits but that is the primary difference between the business and financial journals.
Choose ONE prompt each day and dedicate 5-10 minutes writing your answer. If your time runs longer because you have a lot to write, so be it.
- Write or create your business mission statement.
- Who do you want to serve in your business?
- What services, products and/or programs do your clients need?
- What are your clients’ pain points that you can solve?
- How specifically can you solve your clients’ problem?
- Where do you see your business next year? In 5 years? In 10 years?
- Do you see yourself staying a solopreneur or hiring a virtual team? Why?
- Do you see yourself opening a physical office location with employees? Why?
- Write down your current income. What products, services, or programs are bringing in that income?
- What income level do you want to achieve next year? In the next 5-10 years? What products, services, or programs will you add to reach those goals?
- What’s your bestselling product, program, or service? How can you sell more units?
- Does your bestselling product, program, or service need an update or added features? Work up a new price for this updated product.
- Write a review of this last year of business. What were your successes? What could use improvement? What are your lessons learned?
- What milestones did you reach this week?
- What were your challenges this week?
- Name 3 positive things that occurred this week.
- Choose a primary goal for the week. Break it down into smaller action steps to make it more achievable.
- “Eat the frog.” What task or project have you been procrastinating about? Schedule that first one day this week and get it done.
- Write about your favorite time management tool. Do you currently use it frequently to stay focused? How can you make improvements on your overall time management?
- What are some stories or case studies you can share with your audience? Focus on the positive outcome.
- What would you like help with this week? Who can you ask for help?
- What’s your favorite tip about your area of expertise? How did you discover this tip? Share it with others via your content.
- What is something you want to create this next week? Do you have the resources? Who can you ask for help?
- What was your work/life balance like last week? Is there anything that needs improvement? Changes to be made?
- If you had a sudden infusion of $10K, how would you invest in your business?
- When is the last time you intentionally invested in your business?
- Is there any business tool you need to grow? How much do you need to invest to make this purchase? How will this purchase grow your business (be specific)?
- Name 1-2 businesspeople you would like to meet. What would you ask them? Why do you want to meet them? What lessons can you learn from their stories?
- If you were granted an extra hour each day, how would you spend it (with money being no issue)?
- What’s the best business/self-improvement book you’ve ever read? What lesson(s) did you learn? How did you implement this advice into your life and business?
- What mindset roadblocks do you need to break in order to move forward and grow your business?
- What are 5-10 business accomplishments you’re proud of?
- What do you know now that you wish someone had told you when you started your business?
- What would you like to tell your younger self about running a business?
- List 10 things you want to improve/change about your business. Do you have the funds/resources to do this?
- What can’t you live without in your daily life? List 3 non-negotiable tasks that bring you closer to realizing your potential.
- What was the inspiration for starting your business (or creating your bestselling product)? Remind yourself of what put you on this path to entrepreneurship in the first place.
- Outline your current marketing strategy. Is it working for you? What changes can you make to expand your reach and increase sales?
- Write about an “aha” moment in your business life.
- What causes or charities are important to you? Create a goal to donate XX amount; then work out a plan for earning that extra income.
- Ask for testimonials from happy clients. Utilize them in your marketing and look through them whenever your confidence lags.
- What’s the worst business advice you received? What lessons did you learn?
- What’s the BEST business advice you received? What lessons did you learn?
- How do I want to feel when working? How is that different from my current feelings about work?
- List your daily tasks; which of them makes you most productive? Which ones can you change to improve your productivity and efficiency?
Keeping a business journal provides the ultimate stepping stone in your quest to build a bigger and better business. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should be all smiles as you envision your business’ future. As good as it is, you need to sit back, reflect, and look back to ensure that you get the most out of your efforts.
While reflecting, you can spot some missed opportunities as well as bind spots to avoid. As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20,” so get in the habit of reflecting on what has worked and what has not in your business.
Among the points to consider as you reflect and evaluate your ideas and goals include:
- What am I doing well?
What are my business’ strengths? What did I do to achieve it? Can the same be applied in pursuit of my current goals? Establishing your strengths is as important as spotting your weaknesses, as you get to realize what you can leverage in your quest to build a bigger and better business.
- What am I learning?
Every step is a learning opportunity, and if you aren’t learning anything, then you’ll never move forward toward your goals. With the experience accumulated through the journey, you learn a lot, and such insights come in handy as you scale your business to the next level.
- How can I improve?
There is always room for improvement. Even on points that you feel you are doing exceptionally well you could be surprised to realize there still is more to do.
- What should I do differently in the future?
You don’t want to make the same mistakes, but if you can’t remember what you did wrong, you are bound to repeat such steps. What did you do that added no value to your business? Even worse, cost a fortune and derailed your progress? Such information is crucial, and as you strive to build an empire, you can’t afford such avoidable leakages.
“I work well under pressure” How often do you quote that phrase, and deny your business the opportunity to scale to new heights by failing to keep a business journal? Every prospect call might seem like it brings out the best in you, but that is because you haven’t explored the free-flowing ideas that are always running through your mind when you aren’t “thinking.”
With the simple daily practice of keeping a business journal, your efforts to build a bigger and better business won’t only be more natural, but seamless as well, as you get to enjoy an edge with innovative measures that your competitors can only dream about.