5 Signs That You Might Be Settling For A Hand-Me-Down Personality

The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.

– Jim Hightower

We are trained, from the very beginning of our lives, to fit in. Your parents teach you how you should speak, eat, dress in a socially acceptable manner.

Your school teaches you what you should study, how you should study it, and what grades define your level of intelligence. The peer pressure tells you what kind of backpack you should have, and what shoes you should wear.

Your job teaches you how you should behave, how you should measure your performance, what kind of files you can use, and how you should label everything and make it uniform like everyone else.

And as you go through all of these stages, you are also taught how you should speak to people, avoid conflict, try not to rock the boat. So essentially, you are taught to be in the average stream where most people are floating like the dead fish mentioned in the above quote.

Most people don’t even acknowledge that they are accepting status-quo. They actually do believe that fitting in is the right thing to do. But then there are others, who simply don’t have the awareness yet. They need a trigger or a catalyst to begin their journey towards who they really are, and who they are meant to be.


The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you, but yourself.

– Rita Mae Brown



5 Signs That You Might Be Settling For A Hand-Me-Down Personality

Your entire life revolves around fitting in and not rocking the boat

Have you spent your life trying to fit in? Did you try so hard to be one of the crowds that you learned to dress like others, speak like others, and laugh at the right jokes?

Fitting in is the most common form of conformity. It starts early for most people, while they are in school. You try to fit in so you wouldn’t be the oddball on the sidelines. You try to fit in so you could be friends with the popular people, or at least so you wouldn’t be sitting alone at the cafeteria table.

You try to fit in at your job, do what everyone else is doing, sucking up to whoever everyone else is sucking up, and slowly and steadily climbing the corporate ladder.

You fit in so you could accompany your husband or wife at their office party. You fit in to be like parents of your kids’ friends so you wouldn’t embarrass them.

You go through life, trying to squeeze yourself into gaps that were not made for you.

Your first thought, when making any decision, is if someone else will approve

What is your thought process while making any important decision? Perhaps you weigh pro and cons. Perhaps you make a decision based on gut reaction. But once you have focused on your individual style, how often do you change your decision because you think someone else won’t like it?

Or perhaps you never actually make the decision because you are worried that other people won’t like it. You keep going in circles, trying to make up your mind, trying to please everyone and please yourself, and so you stay where you are. No decision. No progress.

You measure yourself against other people

How do you define your successes and failures? Is your B not good enough because your best friend or a sibling got an A? Is your salary insufficient because someone else you know makes more money? Or maybe you compare your negative situation to others. You think your job or a relationship – the one that doesn’t make you happy, and keeps you constantly dissatisfied – is good enough, because other people you know are in much worse situation.

You are unable to truly celebrate your successes, because you are always comparing yourself to how much more someone else has achieved. You sweep your failures under the carpet, because you tell yourself that other people have done much worse.

You are easily daunted when someone shots down your idea

Finally, you gather the courage to speak up. You had an idea. Something different. A solution to a problem, or simply a new way to do something. You share it with others. Then someone pipes up and says things like:

“That’s so unrealistic”

“Don’t be ridiculous. We don’t do things like that.”

“We always do it the other way.”

“It will never work.”

So you press your lips together, sink back in your seat, and try to disappear in the corner, wishing you’d never spoken up in the first place.

You rarely feel comfortable in your own skin

Every morning you wake up, wishing something was different. You go to school, and wish you were as cool as the other kids. You go to work, and wish you were as confident as the other people. You go to a party, and wish you were as sexy as someone else. You go to a place of worship and wish you had the inner tranquillity other people seem to have. You wish you had a better accept, better nose, better dress-sense. You wish your kids achieved more, or spouse earned more.

You wish you could be someone else.


Does any of the above sound like you? Be honest. Acknowledgement is the first step to advancement. Unless you acknowledge that you are in a situation you don’t want to be in, you can’t make a conscious change.  Until you acknowledge, how much the conventions of conformity have trapped you, you can’t break free.


Write in your journal about how the above five apply to you. How much of these 5 things are regular occurrence in your life? Be brutally honest, and don’t hold back. It’s time to face the truth, and then you can decide what changes you want to make.



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Ask the Readers: Do You Think It’s Wrong To Be Ambitious?


There is often negative connotation with the word “ambition.” It’s a sad truth of our society that ambition is automatically associated with greed, or money and power without soul.

Ambition is…

A strong desire to do or achieve something

Why would anyone consider that a bad thing? Why are we not encouraging every single person, every child in school, to be ambitious? Just imagine the sheer energy of motivated people, if every one of us had a strong desire to achieve something.

Do we all have to achieve the same thing? Do we all need to aim for millions of dollars, Hollywood fame, or a noble prize? Of course not. Ambitions are just another aspect of our dreams. Even the experts I interviewed had different takes on ambition.

Do you ever admit you are ambitious?

Are you ashamed of it, or do you simply hide it to avoid conflict?

How do you react when other people say they are ambitious?



Leave a comment and let me know what your views are about ambition. If you don’t like public comments, you can always send me an email – dolly [at] kaizenjournaling [com]

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3 Must Have Traits of Your Success Support Group

Every person and every idea needs a champion. We’ve heard this over and over again. Maybe, you can do it alone, but unless you are a hermit by profession, it’s going to be a lonely journey.

I’m all for independence. I’m proud to be independent. But a support group is not about dependency. It’s about having people to give you honest feedback when you can’t think straight because you are too close to your goals. It’s about having people to cheer you on when you feel like giving up. It’s about having people to kick your ass when you are dragging your feet.

I know, it’s not always easy to find those people. If you are aiming to do things that are different than then the norm, and not categorized by the standard tangible outcomes such as grades, certificates or pay cheques, then the chances are you face one of the below problems:

  • Your nearest and dearest don’t necessarily understand what you want to do and why you want to do it
  • They want the best for you, so they try to steer you towards the less risky method, tried and true conventions
  • You feel uncomfortable talking to people about your dreams, because they just don’t see your vision and you want to avoid conflict
  • You haven’t got anyone in your life that you trust enough to discuss your deepest dreams
  • Your friends are too busy with their “normal” lives
  • People don’t see why you are dissatisfied when you have a nice house, and a good job, and a lovely family
If any of that sounds familiar, you are not alone. And all is not lost.

So what’s the solution?

You find a new support group. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it also doesn’t have to take years. In whatever you are pursuing, there would be other people attempting the same thing, or similar thing. It doesn’t have to be identical. It just has to be something that makes you relate to each other.

Say, you want to start your own flower shop. Do you need to go and make friends with other florists? Not necessarily. But you could connect with other small business owners in your area, or online. You can share your journeys, get support for your weak areas, and help others out with your strengths. With the Internet, and the ability to connect with people through so many different means, there is really no reason or excuse for not being able to find like minded people.

What to look for? What makes these people different?

 3 Traits

If you are lucky, you will find people who will share all these traits. At the very least, you need to find people who at least have one or more of these:

  • Passionate
  • Driven
  • Positive

Make a list of people who are a major part of your life. Online or off-line. These are the people you spend a lot of time talking to. Day job, family, Facebook friends – whatever it is, it counts. Don’t worry about emotional bond with them. If you spend time with someone, but you don’t like them, they still go on this list.

These are the people in your life, whether you chose them or not. Are they any good for you? Find out by answering below questions. There is no need to make excuses for them. There is no need to get overly complicated. This is your journal. Be brutally honest.

Answer These Questions in Yes or No:

  • Do they care for you?
  • Do they support you in your goals?
  • Do they “get” your goals?
  • Do they promote you?
  • Can you learn anything from them?
  • Do they bring positivity to your life?
  • Do they make you smile?

For everyone on your list, if you have less than three “Yes” then consider why they are in your life. If they are family, you wouldn’t want to dismiss them, but perhaps you could spend less time with them. With other, less binding relationships, think about the value it brings to you.

This isn’t about being bitchy. Friendships are supposed to be mutually rewarding relationships. If you don’t have at least three “Yes” then is that person still your friend? Or have you just got relics from a faded friendship?

Is there any one with 5 or more “Yes”? These are the people you want to spend even more time with. These are the people that probably bring out the best in you. Build more relationships like that.

Create your support group with conscious awareness that you are there for mutual nurturing. Be selective in who you let in that group, but once you have that, be generous in what you offer them.

Success support group is a give and take relationship, but it’s not about keeping scores. As long as you have the right people in your group, your mutual drive, passion and positivity will propel you forward towards your goals.


Take 30 minutes out of your day, and make a list of everyone you spend your time with. Answer above questions in yes or no as to what they bring to your life. Then, make a conscious decision about which of those people you want to spend more time with, and how you can achieve that.


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The Kaizen Journaling Manifesto


Creative Commons License

The Kaizen Journaling Manifesto is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Feel free to share the work anywhere, but please link back here.

These values are what this site is about. If they resonate with you, inspire you or intrigue you then we would love to consider you a regular reader.

Just enter your email below to get free updates and a collection of powerful workbooks to get you started on your Kaizen Journaling journey.






Write down at least three values from the manifesto that resonate with you. How are you living these values? If you aren’t, how can you start living them?
Thanks Holstee and Expert Enough for inspiration.

P.S. You can now purchase this manifesto on various products for continuous inspiration. Click here.


15 Experts Reveal How Ambition, Audacity and Authenticity Contributed to Their Success

Success is a variable term. It could mean different things to different people. But regardless of what your definition of success is, I believe that three ingredients can contribute to it. Those ingredients are: Ambition, Audacity and Authenticity.

I decided to test this opinion, and see if successful people from different areas would agree. I asked these fifteen, amazing people one question:

How do you think that following three things have contributed to your success?




Their answers are inspiring. This is straight from the horse’s mouth. These people have achieved their definition of success, or at least a part of it (because for some of us, the journey is forever). They are recognized names in their fields. Each of them are an example of how you can achieve things that are so-not-average. Together, they make a hefty doze of inspiration.

So let’s see what they have to say:

Corbett Barr – Blogger Extraordinaire, and amazingly helpful person! He helps people build cool stuff online. He’s a founder of How to Start a Blog that Matters and Think Traffic.

These are such great ingredients Dolly! Ambition is what leads me to suspend disbelief long enough to try all the crazy ideas I’ve tried in my life. Audacity makes me bold enough to get through the ups and downs. Authenticity keeps me honest and is responsible for the best relationships in my life.


Robert J. Sawyer – Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author of 22 books, including Flashforward, which made the hit TV show. His prolificness and imagination astounds me.

Ambition: There’s no doubt that I’m ambitious, but I also made sure to set reasonable goals. I’ll likely never be on The New York Times bestsellers’ list, but I have repeatedly had the top-selling science-fiction novel for the entire year in my native Canada; I’ll never win a mainstream or literary fiction award, but, according to the LOCUS Index to Science Fiction Awards, I’ve won more awards than anyone else in history as a science fiction or fantasy novelist. A writer needs to strive, but also needs to be realistic.

Audacity: When I was starting out in the 1980s, people told me that setting books in Canada was a mistake — you had to set them in the USA if you wanted an international audience, they insisted. I said “bull,” and set out to make my work flagrantly Canadian. It’s paid of with top-ten mainstream bestsellerdom in Canada, but also with my books having been translated into 20 languages worldwide, and with me recently having received an award for being the top selling foreign science-fiction writer in China. Don’t let anyone tell you NOT to be true to yourself; write about who you are.

Authenticity: In the mainstream press, “science fiction” is often used as a synonym for “crazy, far-out stuff.” But, actually, good science fiction is rigorously extrapolated from what we know into what plausibly might be. I work very hard to have accurate science and plausible predictions in my work — and, as result, not only do my readers trust me, but NASA and other organizations come to me for advice. It’s very, very gratifying, and one of the big pluses of the job.

Matthew Kimberley is Head of the Book Yourself Solid School of Coach Training and author of How To Get A Grip. His site is full of useful information.

Ambition is a poorly understood idea, often couched in terms of relentless climbing upwards to more and more and more. My take is that ambition is having a very clear idea of where you want to be, and keeping on the straight and narrow until you get  there. It’s OK to be a nurse — you don’t have to be a doctor. Ambition is healthy so long as it’s your ambition. Jumping through hoops held by other people will elad to spinal injuries. I stepped back from naked, literal ambition a few years ago, put my own clothes on, and I haven’t had a bad back since.

Audacity is another concept that has largely negative connotations – you normally hear it  tied alongside an echo of disbelief that somebody had the cojones to act inappropriately. having cojones is important. Having the nous to put yourself out there is important. It takes a certain arrogance to believe that people will be interested in what  you have to say. But a dose of arrogance, a slightly swollen set of balls and a temporary suspension of timidity will help your positioning and, frankly, allow you to have more fun. Give yourself permission to act. Others don’t have the right.

Authenticity goes hand-in-hand with credibility. Credibility leads to trust. Trust leads to relationships. Relationships lead to not having to  worry about being homeless. There’s nothing more important. You can say anything you like, but if it’s not real, it won’t resonate. Be yourself. You do it better than anybody else.

Pat Flynn is a blogger, podcast host, and multiple business owner. He’s also a super friendly guy. Check him out at Smart Passive Income.

All three of these words, together, describe the core principles that have  contributed to my success. Without desire, there’s no drive or motivation, without being bold there’s no way to stand out of the crowd and experiencing rapid growth, and without being authentic there’s no reason for people to trust me and my brand. All three are absolutely necessary and if even one of them were not present, success cannot be achieved – at least not for long-term.

Jeff Goins is an author, an award-winning blogger, and speaker who is passionate about helping people live and tell better stories. Find him at Goins Writer.  We can expect to see great things from Jeff.

Well, success is always relative. What’s one man’s success is another’s disgrace. That said, I think ambition is always an important part of doing something important. However, with that comes a lack of satisfaction. I like the idea of passion more than ambition. Ambitious people, it seems, are rarely happy; they always want more. However, passionate people do what they do, because they love it. I identify more with the latter category. As to why, passion is naturally attractive. Probably because it is so rare today.

In a world where the things we were certain of are now dwindling, it takes courage to lead. To be bold and speak with conviction is a lost art. Those who dare to do it will undoubtedly gain significant followings – as long as they don’t turn into jerks.

Perhaps what marks the Information Age most noticeably is a lack of trust: in advertising, mass marketing, and corporate brands. We don’t believe in “big” anymore. We only trust small. If you’re going to communicate in a way that matters, you’ll have to reach people with a message that is accessible, not over their heads. More than ever, we need to be looking for ways to dignify people, not commodify them.

James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda, a site about earning more money, more time, and more freedom. He also looks impressive with that microphone.

All three have been critical. In many ways, ambition and audacity drove me to branch out and work for myself in the first place. Without that first step, nothing else would be possible. You have to be willing to be bold, and ambition and audacity enable you to be bold. So both of those have been key.

Authenticity is also a critical component to anyone’s success … not just online. Obviously, trust follows authenticity, but I think there is more to it than that. On a personal level, doing something authentic is inspiring, motivating, and energizing. If you’re ever going to create something substantial or something that will stand the test of time, then you need to be authentic. You can’t fake enthusiasm … and you’ll also find it much harder to succeed without it. That’s why being authentic is so important.

I know it’s not on the list, but I would say consistency is the other component. Anyone can be authentic for a moment or ambitious and audacious for a day … but doing all three consistently is the real test.

C. S. Lakin is novelist and writing coach who spends her time divided between developing new book ideas and helping writers polish theirs. Find her on Twitter.

I love your choice of these three words. I so believe in authenticity and writing from your heart to tell a story that you feel passionate about. That drives us writers to succeed in a healthy way. So with Ambition, for me, it needs to be spurred on by a desire to reach readers and touch them—not solely to make a killing. And part of authenticity is being audacious—being daring to be a new, different, honest voice through writing. I always push the envelope, try new techniques even though they may not “sell” or will be criticized. But those who conform to existing models all for the sake of making a sale will lose that great joy of creativity that comes with being bold and daring in their writing.

Caleb Wojcik inspires cubicle renegades at Pocket Changed. He’s an assistant editor at Think Traffic. He’s also super helpful and a very nice guy.

Ambition is what keeps me going. If I didn’t think that the sky was the limit on what I am able to do, then I probably would have given up multiple times. My ambition is to reach my full potential.

Audacity to me is about being bold and overcoming your fears. I also used to just do what was safe and “smart”. Now I am willing to take the leap when the end goal is something I really want.

Authenticity is the only way that you should try to be successful online. You can trick people in the short-term by being fake, but if you really want to build something with long-term growth you need to be authentic.

Emily Gee is one of my favourite fantasy authors. I stumbled across her book on Amazon browsing session, and since then have become a fan. She is a very good writer, and a lovely person.

This is a tough question, Dolly, because I wouldn’t call myself either audacious or particularly ambitious! As a writer, I strive for authenticity in my Regency novels, to get that Regency flavour, just as I strive to make my fantasy worlds feel real. In place of Ambition and Audacity, I’ll substitute two other A words: Application and Apprenticeship. Getting published doesn’t happen overnight; it takes thousands of hours of application, of hard work. An apprenticeship, so to speak. And the end result of that application and long apprenticeship? Hopefully, a publishing contract!

Maneesh Sethi travels the world, looking for ways to Hack The System–to achieve goals by approaching them in unconventional ways. This guy lives by his own rules, and helps the world at the same time.

Ambition – I don’t think of it as ambition, but I want to be well regarded—a non remarkable life is a boring life.

Audacity – I don’t care what other people think so I do what I find to be awesome. Radical, audacious goal setting helps me achieve goals.

Authenticity – I am who I am, so I make videos to showcase my personality. People love it.

Gareth L. Powell is a science fiction author, and has written a series of non-fiction articles on science fiction. Gareth’s absolutely lovely to talk to, though we disagree about whether first drafts are easy or difficult. He’ll be a Guest of Honour at BristolCon 2012.

In order to keep writing in the face of rejection or indifference, you have to keep your eyes on your goal. You have to have an ambition, and let it drive you onward. You also need the audacity to actually submit pieces of writing to editors, and to promote your work — two activities which may not come naturally to a writer beset by self-doubt and a lack of confidence. You have to keep your focus on the prize, and have the nerve to reach for it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But at the same time, you have to stay true to yourself. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not. The words you put down on the page have to come from deep within you; and the face you show the world has to be your own. If you try to put on an exaggerated act or persona, it will ring hollow. People will be able to tell. Instead, be the best version of yourself that you can be. Act professionally, with grace and tact.

Srinivas Rao is a blogger, podcaster, and freelance social media strategist. He loves riding the waves. Connect with him on Twitter.

Ambition: I’d say this has been a huge contributor to my success. It takes an incredible amount of self-motivation to grow a blog or online business. It means working on the days when you don’t feel like and when you can can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Audacity: I’m going have to steal some quotes from the guests that have been on my show. Erika Napoletano said “the middle of the road is where you get killed.” I think you have to take chances with your content. The most popular posts on my blog have been the ones where I’ve been willing to be audacious.

Authenticity: One of the cornerstones of my brand has been building relationships. I’m the same person offlline as I am online. If you meet me in person it won’t be like we’re meeting for the first time and thats’ what I consider authenticity.

Indu Sundaresan writes Historical Indian Fiction that makes the past come alive. The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses are two of the best Historical Fictions I’ve ever read. She transports you to the glorious past of the mughals.

Ambition:  Like most writers, I write to be read—I want my work to reach as many people as would be entertained/edified/made happy by it.  Perhaps the hardest part of the publishing process was finding the right agent to represent me; this was the first step and it took some five years and many, many rejection letters.  But, I did believe in my own work and persisted even despite the rejections.

Audacity:  The same answer as above!  When you first decide to write something, it’s difficult to visualize who will read it, and this is as it should be.  I wrote four novels (two before I wrote THE TWENTIETH WIFE and THE FEAST OF ROSES) before I seriously looked for representation.  I revised them extensively, I sat in critique groups, I took creative writing classes (after I wrote all the novels, not before) and I finally thought that THE TWENTIETH WIFE should be the book I first published.

Authenticity:  I write historical fiction.  In the very literal sense of this word, I try my best to keep to known historical facts and documents so as to tell a story that is rooted in history.  A lot of research goes into all my novels, and most of it doesn’t make it on the page—it lingers in the background and shapes the writing, the characters, the events and the plot.  I also put in an Afterword in most of my novels, pointing out what is fact and what fiction and why I made the choice to go one way or another.

Mary Jaksch is an authorized Zen master (Diamond Sangha lineage), psychotherapist, and author. She’s the operational captain at A-List Blogger Club where she makes all the newbies feel welcome.

Ambition is an interesting word. I must admit, it has rather unpleasant connotations. However, if ambition means having a dream, and feeling a fire in the belly to make the dream come true – then it’s a powerful force for creation. Ambition in this sense of the word has definitely contributed to my success. When I first talked to Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame how we could create an insanely useful resource for bloggers, the A-List Blogger Club , it was just a dream. But today, with over 800 members, it is a reality. I think ambition can be a good thing, if it means that we want to develop our dreams and make them real. It has certainly helped me.

Audacity is a necessary ingredient for success. When I first started my blog Goodlife ZEN, quite a few of my fellow Zen teachers felt I shouldn’t create a blog. But I had the audacity to continue – and it has become a successful blog.

Authenticity means being true to who we are so that our thoughts and feelings are mirrored in our actions. Some bloggers try to fake it; they pretend to be someone other than who they are, or they hide their identity behind a pseudonym. In the long run, this doesn’t work. Readers only trust us if they know that we are real people, with real lives and real experiences. I think that authenticity has been the foundation of my success.

Jonathan Mead helps people kill their day job and get paid to be who they are. He’s a natural speaker, and an inspiration. His passion radiates through his words. Find him on Twitter.

Ambition for me means a will and hunger to move forward, to keep progressing. Sometimes it means biting off more than you can chew, but for me it always means adventure.

Audacity is about me having the courage to do something different than what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to fall in line and do what’s already been done. But it takes courage and audacity to go off the path and outside the lines.

Authenticity means not doing what I think I should do, but staying true to my values and deepest goals. If I try to create arbitrary or superficial goals, I’ll inevitably rebel and won’t make much progress. When my goals are rooted in authenticity, that’s what I find momentum, excitement and energy.

Get your journal out, and write down at least two answers for each area (Ambition, Audacity and Authenticity) that resonate with you, and inspired you. Read it daily for a week or so, and think about how you can incorporate it in your life.


Welcome to Kaizen Journaling: How We Can Contribute to Your Success


I believe that no one wants to settle for mediocre achievements. People end up leading average life because they fall into it by following conventional routes of education, career and relationships, and they never quite manage to break the cycle.

My mission here is to advocate dreaming big dreams, and believing in possibilities. It’s about realising that everyone gets only twenty-four hours in a day, and it is what we do with that time that makes the difference.

I’ll never tell you to accept other people’s definition of success. I believe that success, like people, is an individual concept. Your success is measured by what you want, not by what someone else has achieved. It’s in your power to be the best you can be. I’m here, to guide you on the way.

Here, you’ll find practical resources that you can use to create your personalised arsenal for success using simply a journal and a pen. Every post will have SPECIFIC ACTIONS at the end, so you can start applying what you read straight away. Learning is good, and I encourage it heartily. But application is what makes us progress.

Does any of the below resonate with you?

  • You want to wake up, feeling enthusiastic about going to work.
  • You want to feel like you are living up to your potential.
  • You are not always comfortable being yourself, for the fear of what others might think, or for the fear of having to justify yourself.
  • You are afraid you will be unsuccessful, and won’t make your mark in the world.
  • You want to do many things, but not sure how to go about it.
  • You are worried your dreams are unrealistic.
  • You feel that there is not enough time to do everything you want to do, and too many things to do that you don’t want to do.

If you agree with any of the above, then you are in the right place.

This is the beginning for all of us…

We are here, united by our drive to live in a way that is an extension of who we are. We are here to practice Kaizen by continuously improving our lives, fuelling our dreams, and honing our skills. We are here to stand up for what we believe in.

I’m here to help.

You are all here because you share my belief, and are not afraid of hard work. You know that anything worthwhile takes hard work. You are not here expecting a miracle, but guidance to get the best results.

I’m grateful that you are here, and a part of this community. Individually, we are just a few odd balls fighting an uphill battle against the world full of “should” and “must”. United, we are a movement. 

We are not meant to simply exist and fit quietly in this world. We are here to make our unique mark. We don’t all have to lead revolutions and change the world on a grand scale, but we can take control of our life.

If you agree, I would love to consider you a regular reader.

Just enter your email below and become one of the Kaizen Warriors.

Connect with me through Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any updates.

If you know someone who belongs in this community but haven’t found us, please send them a link to this article. If you haven’t joined yet, I hope you will.

Welcome to Kaizen Journaling.

– Dolly Garland

P.S. Be on the lookout tomorrow for an official launch post, featuring some amazing people. I bet you’ve heard of at least some of them.



Join the community, and become one of the Kaizen Warriors. You will also get subscribers-only free content to add to your arsenal.

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7 Ways to Turn Your Journal from Whiny to Empowering

When I first started journaling, over twelve years ago, it was usually a place for me to record all the negative things in my life. A few years ago, when I was flicking through that journal, I read some of the entries and put the journal aside with disgust. It was all negative, and I most certainly don’t remember my life being that bad. I wanted to look back to some happy memories, but based on my journal, it was all doom and gloom.

Do you ever finish writing in your journal only to end up feeling more depressed than when you started? Do you focus mostly on who hurt your feelings, was horrible to you, or how many bad things happened to you? Do you write a screenplay of arguments you had with your loved ones? do the pages of your journal ooze negativity?

You are not alone.

It’s a human tendency to focus on negatives. When we have problems, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. Most of us complain to whoever would listen, including our journals. When the problems are too personal to share with others, a journal often becomes the only listener.

There is nothing wrong with sharing your woes or even winging in your journal, and you don’t even have to be fair. Complain and get it out of your system, but don’t let that become the only use for your journal.

If you are going to forget that when you are going through a hard time, leave reminders in your journal to include other aspects of your life.

Things you can use:

  • A simple post-it note inside the front or back cover.
  • A photo of someone you love, or even of you – smiling wide and bright.
  • Something that inspires you – a poem, a landscape, just some random image from the Internet.
  • Your happy place – write a detailed description of it, or if you have the skill, draw it.
  • Use whatever works for you, but the aim s to get a full picture of your life in your journal. When you capture your life as a whole, you will be able to look back at your journals for learning rather than to drown yourself in depression or disgust.

7 Ways to Turn Your Journal from Whiny to Empowering

Don’t go to bed without a positive entry in your journal

It doesn’t have to be a long entry, and it doesn’t have to be something that makes you ecstatic. It could be something as simple as someone bringing you a cup of coffee with a smile, or telling you a joke that made you laugh. It could be stepping outside in bright sunshine, and smiling just because of the beauty of the day. It could be a movie that made you laugh, or giggling with a girlfriend over something silly. It just has to be something that gave you one tiny moment of happiness.

If you can’t think of anything at all, then stop right here, and make an appointment with a therapist. I’m serious. You need help. Go and get it.

List Three Things You are Grateful for

Not just today or yesterday or last week. Look back at your entire life. What are the three things that you are grateful for?

What about any of these:

  • Parents who tried their best for you, loved and supported you
  • Sibling who hero-worshipped you
  • Best friend you’ve had forever
  • You’ve always had a comfortable home and food on the table
  • You’ve always been in good health
  • You’ve travelled and seen the world
  • You’ve experiences that made you grow that many people don’t have
  • You’ve someone who loves and adores you
  • You’ve brought up wonderful children
  • Write Your Most Powerful Positive Memory

Sit somewhere quiet and comfortable. Close your eyes and focus on your memories. What is the happiest moment you can remmeber? A moment when you were just happy to be alive? Is it a memory that brings a smile or even tears of joys every time you think about it? Maybe it brings a wide grin or maybe it makes your heart fill that you wonder how could anyone contain so much happiness? Focus on this memory with every fibre of your being and write it down.

Write fast and furious so you can focus on your feelings and emotions rather than your thoughts. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Don’t even focus on your words. Just focus on your memory and write from your heart.

Focus on your visceral reactions. What were your physiological reactions when you were feeling this? Was your heart racing? Palms sweaty? Or maybe you were calm and content and every muscle in your body was relaxed. Depending on the nature of your memory you would have different reactions as you focus on that memory with complete intensity you might even start getting same physical reactions.

Use them. Write them down. When you are done, put down your break and take a break to savour those emotions.

Congratulations! You have just create created a happy pill for yourself.

Write about your favourite holiday as a child

Christmas, New Year, Easter, anything. It doesn’t matter what the holiday is, as long as the memory is good and powerful.

  • What did you do?
  • Who did you celebrate with?
  • Did you have any traditions with either family or friends?
  • Did you exchange presents?
  • What kind of food did you eat?
  • Did you play games or did activities together?
  • What was the weather like?

Again, focus on the details. Write as much as you can.

Make a list of your strengths

Everyone has strengths. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hopefully, you already know some of your strengths, but if you don’t, this is a good time to start with that area of self-awareness.

Our strengths, like us, are unique and comparison to others is not required and not recommended. Focus on you – who you are – and what are your unique talents.

Maybe you are super at organising stuff, or maybe you bake a hell of a cake. Perhaps your strength is in being a mediator and bringing people together. Think about this. When have you used your strength and made something happen? Ask close friends or family members.

List your favourite feel-good books or movies

You know that cheesy movie you wouldn’t admit to liking in sophisticated company, or maybe you would. But it always makes you feel good.

I know a woman who likes bad horror movies. I personally love feel-good light hearted stuff like Princess Diaries or Legally Blonde.

Re-read your comfort book. Some books become companions over a lifetime. You know every scene, but curling up with it, and even just reading a few sentences is like curling up with a favourite blanket. Of course you can do both.

Name one person who makes you laugh on regular basis

If there is no one, you need to make new friends. Being surrounded by positive people is essential for any kind of growth.

Do you know anyone who has perpetual frown on their face? I certainly do. No one likes being around a misery guts, because miserable people only spread their negativity. Positive people lift up their spirits environment around them, so strive to be positive. Laugh a lot. Smile a lot. Smile at strangers (though not at the weirdos who might misinterpret that). Smile at your colleagues. Smile at your family. Sometimes I just laugh and my husband gives me a look that plainly says he thinks I’m a whack-a-doodle. But you know what? Better be a happy whack-a-doodle than a miserable “normal” person.

So stay in regular touch with people who lift your spirits up and make you laugh.

Even if you do only two or three of these things every day in your journal, you will soon have a journal that is full of positivity. When you are having bad days, you will be able to re-read these pages and think about the good things in your life.

To help you focus on the positive side of your life, I have created a free PDF guide, 17 Questions to Find Your Positivity. You can download it by entering your email address below. If you find it useful, I would love to hear from you. Please leave your feedback in the comments below.




  1. Pick at least one of these seven methods today, and apply it in your journal.
  2. Download free guide 17 Questions to Find Your Positivity, and take time to answer those questions honestly, and you’ll never be short of something to make you smile or feel grateful.

If you think this post and this free guide would be useful to others, please share it by using the social media buttons below.


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23 Kick-Ass Success Quotes That Will Get You Moving

Quotes are awesome. When I read a good quote, I get a visceral reaction that gets me all revved up. Read these, and if any of them resonate with you then I recommend reading them out loud, often. Stick them on a post-it on your computer, on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror. Hell, everywhere in your house. Stay motivated.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. – Robert Collier

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will. – Vince Lombardi

Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration. – Evan Esar

Some people dream of success…while others wake up and work hard at it. – Author Known

People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. – Dale Carnegie

The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of successful outcome in the mind. – Henry David Thoreau

Courage to start and willingness to keep everlasting at it are the requisites for success. – Alonzo Newton Benn

Success will not lower its standard to us. We must raise our standard to success. – Rev. Randall R. McBride, Jr.

We were born to succeed, not to fail. – Henry David Thoreau

To guarantee success, act as if it were impossible to fail. – Dorothea Brande

Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility…in the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have…is the ability to take on responsibility. – Michael Korda

Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. – John Maxwell

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. – Benjamin Disraeli

No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. – Bill Cosby

To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish; then resolve to pay the price to get it. – Bunker Hunt

To succeed…you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you. – Tony Dorsett

Action is the foundational key to all success. – Pablo Picasso

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set  yourself on fire. – Arnold H. Glasow

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. – William Feather

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year. – John Foster Dulles

Pick at least one quote from the above list, or find your own that really inspires you and motivates you. Read it every single day for at least a week. Keep a copy of it everywhere. Take it with you when you leave the house. Take a note of how it makes you feel, and every time you read it, keep that inspiring feeling and use that to take action towards your goal.

5 Common Journaling Fears (and How to Overcome Them)

Have you ever thought about keeping a journal? Perhaps, you did keep a journal at some point in your life, but stopped because you thought it was childish or you grew out of your teenage obsession or you found it a waste of time. Maybe you had nothing to say.  There might be a variety of reasons, but main fears usually come back to one of the five below.

Five Reasons Why People Are Afraid To Keep A Journal

I don’t have time.

This excuse is used for nearly everything, and yes, it is an excuse. Every gets twenty-four hours in a day, so how is it that some people manage to achieve seemingly incredible amounts of things, while most of us find just managing day job and family demands overwhelming? It’s very easy to fill time with unproductive activities. Often, we don’t even know that we are wasting time, and so we think we are busy. If you want to do something, and I mean really want, then you will find the time even if that means sacrificing your favourite TV show, spending less time on the phone, cutting down on the window shopping or spending less time slaying dragons on video games.

I hate writing or I’m a bad writer.

Your journal isn’t supposed to be a literally masterpiece. No one else will even see it, so it doesn’t matter how good your writing skill is. As long as you can decipher it, and understand what you wrote, that’s enough. Like most skills, writing can only be improved by practice, so if you keep a journal, you get that added benefit of actually improving your writing ability.

I don’t know what to write.

If you get stuck, the first place to start is writing about your day. Write what you did, who you met, how you felt.  Google for journaling prompts, or just keep a list of your own. I encourage you to do this especially for the ones you find effective. Write about your family. Write about where you live. What do you do? Make a list of your favourite things, places  you want to travel. You can start with almost anything, and it will lead you somewhere else.

I’m embarrassed to keep a journal.

Some people actually do feel this way, and it’s okay. If you are embarrassed, that’s fine. Be a closet journal keeper. There is no need to advertise this to the world. Journal only when you are home, or somewhere private. If you are uncomfortable not telling the people you live with (clearly there is an issue you need to tackle in your journal) then journal in the privacy of you room, or even the bathroom. Let it become a habit before you worry about not hiding it.

What if someone else reads it?

This is a big one, and of all the fears listed here this is most valid because it is often beyond your control. Privacy is a genuine concern. If you are to make the best use of your journal, it is essential that it remains a private tool.

Here are several things you can do to ensure privacy:

  • Consider your living situation. If you live alone, then you don’t have much to  worry about, as long as you don’t keep your journal lying around where visitors might pick it up. Keep it in a drawer, or somewhere where no one else would go. If you have frequent stream of unannounced visitors or drunken guests leftovers, then it might be an idea to keep your journal in a locked drawer.
  • If you live with someone else, then think about your trust level. If it’s family or spouse/partner, make it clear that this is your personal space and that what you write there are unprocessed thought which might be taken out of context. I would still encourage you to keep your journal out of sight to keep the temptation away. If you live with room-mates or even family members you don’t entirely trust, then always keep your journal in your private space. Back of a wardrobe, between piles of clothes, a locked drawer etc.
  • If you keep an electronic journal, make it password protected, and make it a secure password. Always, always make it clear to people in your life that your privacy is essential to you, and that you will not take it lightly if they infringe on it. It’s easier said then done, I know, but you need to be in a situation where you can trust people you live with, and if you are not there yet, then that’s a big part of your life you need to take a look at.
If you haven’t already, start one. That’s it. The best way to overcome a fear is to face it. So go get yourself a journal, and start creating your personalised arsenal for success.

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