Journaling Exercise: I Remember…



Whether you are trying to write your memoires, or simply attempting to remember the past, this journaling exercise will help. This will also help if you are going through a process of self-discovery, because memories play an important role in that journey.

This is a simple but powerful exercise. For the maximum results, do it for at least 10 minutes at a time, non-stop. That means, you must not stop writing. Write as fast as you can for 10 minutes straight.

There are only a few rules: 

I Remember…

  1. Start each sentence with this phrase, “I remember…”
  2. Be as specific as you can. “I remember the smell of magnolias outside the house.” 
  3. Don’t worry about being chronological. If a memory of when you were five is followed by a memory of when you were thirty-five, that’s fine. Your mind will make its own associations. 
  4. Don’t force memories. Just keep writing “I remember…” even if you end up repeating your previous sentence. Go with the flow, and let your subconscious direct the pen. 


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Kaizen Journaling – 12 Lessons Learned in 12 Months AND Two Announcements




Kaizen Journaling officially launched on April 17, 2012. I can’t believe one year has gone by so quickly. When 2012 began, I honestly had no idea I was going to do this. The only thing I had thought about was that I wanted to do journaling workshops some day. That’s it. That was my great plan. But then in February, I just happened to see this message about a programme called Trailblazer on my Facebook Page. It captured me enough that I clicked it. The programme was inspiring. I began to get this heart-beating feeling about this. I didn’t sign up immediately. I did A LOT of research. I even sent a message to Jonathan Mead (creator of Trailblazer), asking a few specific questions. He answered my questions to my satisfaction. I took a leap of faith and signed up.

Trailblazer inspired me to create something I hadn’t even considered before. I’ll be honest, the work’s on me. I was totally and absolutely committed. Even obsessed, you might say. But it helped to have a roadmap I could use, and it helped to have people I could talk to, people who were attempting to blaze their own trail, just as I was. Create something unique of their own. 

Once I’d decided on the concept of Kaizen Journaling, I was impatient to get started. And so in about 2 months from when I joined Trailblazer, on April 17, 2012, Kaizen Journaling was born. It’s been a busy year, and often with unexpected results. But it has led me forward towards my individual potential. So, here I’m going to share with you the lessons I’ve learned (or learned again) in the last  twelve months.

  1. Passion is paramount. Kaizen Journaling has been a project of passion from the very beginning. Journaling is something I do because I can’t just not do it. It’s a part of my life. Because I kept putting passion into it, because I kept thinking about it, and because I kept putting an effort into improving my own journaling, somewhere along the way, journaling became a lot more than just my personal record. It became a way to make sense of just about anything. I honestly believe that journaling is a super powerful tool, which can improve all areas of your life. I also believe that it is an essential tool if you are going to consciously attempt reaching your potential. So all of my beliefs fuelled my desire to create this place. I knew I had enough knowledge to share, and that was reason enough.
  2. You can learn almost anything if you put  your mind to it. When I decided on the concept of Kaizen Journaling, I realised I needed a website. Based on my knowledge at the time, I had two choices: Pay a designer to create a site, or put up with an amateur website. I couldn’t afford to pay a designer, and the second choice was totally unacceptable. I’d a vision of what I wanted this site to be like, and so I learned how to design a website. I like using computers just fine, but I’m not that into techie stuff, unless I need it. Unfortunately, I’m also a perfectionist. So then came the few horrible weeks, during which I spent just about every free moment, often until early hours of the morning, on building this site. This was alongside a demanding full-time job. But I’d a deadline, and I was damn well going to stick to it. And so, after a lot of frustrations and hard work and some tears, Kaizen Journaling was born. I’m sure there are things that could be improved, but I’m so proud of having created this. After this, Kaizen Reading was a piece of cake. (more about this at the end of the post)
  3. Deadlines are good driving force. I like deadlines. I think pressure is good. It keeps you from slacking, and makes  you push harder. That’s why I’d a self-imposed deadline for the release of Kaizen Journaling. But to make sure I would stick to it, I announced it to the public. That made me want to save face, and deliver what I promised.
  4. Plans change, and unexpected is often better than what you planned. In January 2012, when I set my goals for the year, this whole business was nowhere in it. My goals were quite different, and there was no time or resources in there for a project this big. But in February, things changed, and I went with them. I changed my goals according to my new priorities. That was merely the beginning. Along the way, many plans and many things, both in KJ and in other areas of my life have changed. It doesn’t mean I don’t plan. It simply means that I change my plans as situation requires, and I’ve found it most effective.
  5. Withdrawal symptoms of not enough reading are stronger than not enough coffee. As a result of getting immersed in this unplanned project, which took up all of my free time, I wasn’t reading as much as I was used to. Unlike 112 books I read in 2011, in 2012 I read only 53 books. Not bad by most people’s standards, but I felt lousy about it. It just wasn’t sufficient reading, and after a few months I felt so lousy about it that I started putting in more devoted time to reading. Lesson: do not reduce reading. 
  6. Being busy is easier than being productive. Do  you know what the problem is with having to do a lot? Sometimes, you just don’t want to do anything, but you feel guilty about it, so you sit there with files open, attempting to work, and few hours later, all you’ve accomplished is a bunch of messages on Facebook. I was busy all the time. Constantly. I managed to give myself some relaxing time, but I have still not mastered that particular thing. I’m working on it though, because my guilt metre for slacking is far too high.
  7. Teaching others requires even more attention to your own personal development. I was very clear on purpose of Kaizen Journaling. Journal Addict (my first blog about journaling) had been for me, to write whatever I wanted. Kaizen Journaling was very much about delivering value to my readers. The importance of that increased all the more with the launch of Kaizen Journaling Academy. As all good teachers will tell you, you can’t teach others if you don’t keep learning  yourself. So I make sure that personal development never slips off the routine.
  8. It’s okay not to achieve everything at once. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the guilt-for-slacking problem. I want to do so many things, finish so many projects, and achieve so much that I usually have the sense of not-enough-progress. That’s rubbish, of course, and even I know that when I take time to think about it. Yet, I have a tendency to keep driving myself forward, more and more. Near breakdown days during this year of being extremely busy all the time, did emphasise the message more that “It’s okay not to achieve everything at once.”
  9. Just let your WHY be your compass, and it will keep guiding you. Even if you can’t see the destination yet, journey itself will be wondrous. This is essential for just about any venture. My WHY even before I started making the website was to spread the word about how powerful journaling was, and actually SHOW people how to utilise it for their personal success. It’s that motivation that keeps me going. It’s that motivation that prevents writer’s block, and it’s that motivation that continues to let me have faith in this project.
  10. Fear of failure is part of the lizard brain. Don’t let it stop you. There has been so many moments in the last year when for a little while, fear of failure has set in. I’ve been through fair few ups-and-downs and changes in my life, and most of them were significant enough to have an impact. But whenever fear of failure reared its ugly head, after a little freak-out or a cry, I was able to remind myself (usually by journaling my successes), why it was bullshit.
  11. Remind yourself of successes regularly, no matter how small. See Number 10. This is a very good thing to do, not just to overcome fear of failure, but to build your confidence, and to continue  to have faith in yourself.
  12. Make time to reflect. This is mega important. I’ve been doing more and more of this recently as I brainstorm even more major changes in my life. No matter how busy you are, every few weeks, take a day to just reflect. Journal, if you do that, or reflect in your own way through walking or meditation or whatever. This will help you make sure you are still on the right path, and if you are not, it will give you an opportunity to readjust your plans. At the very least, it will put things into perspective. 

These are my twelve lessons. They are not exactly  ground-breaking scientific discoveries, but they are the kind of things that we can always use reminders of. They are so normal that we  almost always overlook them. This year gave me an opportunity to pay attention to them, and I hope you will too.

Now onto the Two Announcements:

FIRST….I would like to officially unveil my new project: 

Kaizen Reading – it is a sister site to Kaizen Journaling, with a slightly different person. Kaizen Reading is about continuous improvement through reading. It’s about showing and finding out, how literature helps you reach higher towards your individual potential. The launch post today includes answer to that very question from 42 amazing people. So check it out here

SECOND…I’m going to launch E-Proudcts through Kaizen Journaling Academy.

The courses have been great, but as they are offered on set dates, many people don’t have time/opportunity to take them. This new product line will start off with some of those courses, but include a lot of additional material. There will be a big contest when it’s ready for launch. I don’t have a set date yet, but I hope to do so this summer. 

Finally, I would like to THANK ALL OF YOU for being here. You make this a community. You are the Kaizen Warriors. So keep participating. Here through comments, on Facebook Page, and on Twitter. If you are a lurker, I nudge you to participate :-) 


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On Attachment (of Human Kind not Emails)



Irma and Anthony – Photo by (c) Dolly Garland

As most of you probably know, I’m in Ecuador at the moment, volunteering for three months working with children to promote literacy and arts. They are a great bunch of kids, and having been here now for month and a half, I’m getting to know many of them as individuals. You are not supposed to have favourites, but always do anyway. So I have my favourites too.

There is Irma, an 11-year old who was so shy in the beginning that she would just sit by herself and read; if she wanted to ask me something (because curiosity was  there already), she would get her 7-year-old brother Anthony to ask it. Now, a month and a half letter, I get several hugs from her everyday. She demands that I sit and read with her, and when I have to go and read with other children too, she pretends to pout. I get made fun of, and then several minutes letter, I get a hug with “mia” (mine). 

Anthony, her brother is another favourite. A 7-year-old whose reading skill is astonishing. He is cheeky, smart and sweet. You can see that if he keeps up this way, he’s going to be a very successful young man. 

Then there is Maria-José, cute as a button. In fact, to call her a little doll would be just correct. As soon as she walks in, she sits down next to me, no matter where I am. If I am reading with someone else, she gets her books, and waits for her turn. 

Isabel, who is a right little madam, does everything she’s not supposed to do, and when you stop her from doing it, she makes puppy-dog eyes at you. 

Alany, who is super creative and conscientious. 

These are just few of the kids that I’ve become particularly attached to, though there are many more whom I would miss. Yesterday, Irma asked me when I was leaving. When I told her it would be mid-May, she said no don’t go, and then, can I come with you? 

Later, I was speaking about that to another volunteer and that I would really miss these kids. She mentioned that having worked with children for the last four years, and having to leave different places, she now does not get attached to kids because it’s too hard to leave. I have not worked with kids for four years, so I can’t make an exact comparison. But it still seems to me that it’s the wrong way to look at things.

Of course it’s hard. And that’s not just because it’s kids. We get attached to other adults too. We make friends, and then move to a different place or a different job. It’s hard. But I think it’s better to get attached, and leave stronger impressions and feelings and memories behind than to remain unattached, and be the person who would be promptly forgotten as soon as they left. 

We mostly remember people who make significant enough impression – either positive or negative. These kids are used to seeing bunch of different volunteers, but don’t feel the same way about each of them. Some kids connect more with some volunteers than others. That’s perfectly normal. We are not here to just teach them to read more, or how to use their imagination. We are here to also be a part of their lives for a little while, as they become a part of ours. We are here to get to know them as people, so that we can help them individually. We are here to learn from them too. But most of all, we are here to be their friends and mentors, and you can’t do that if you stay unattached. 


What is your view on getting attached to people when you are somewhere for a short period of time?

Journal about it, or leave your opinion in the comments below.