30 Day Journaling Challenge – Information

 

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Thank you everyone, for your fabulous responses. I’m thrilled so many of you are excited about doing the 30 day journaling challenge.

Based on feedback, I’ve decided to do this in November. While there are some people doing NaNo or the other Journaling challenge, December with Christmas and end of the year is hectic for most people. If you are unable to participate with us in November, the prompts will still be available, so you can always do the challenge in December or at any other time if you wish.

THE WAY THIS CHALLENGE WORKS:

  • I will post a prompt daily on this blog. For those of you who have subscribed to the blog by email, you will get a notification for new post as per usual, except that for this one month, it will be daily.
  • Prompts are OPTIONAL. You don’t have to use them, but if you need inspiration then they are there for you.
  • THE ONLY RULE is that you need to journal every day. That’s the challenge. You can write as little or as much as you want. I would recommend minimum 1 paragraph, but you can do a sentence if you want. However, you must journal every single day for the whole of November. Draw, doodle, write, paint…..use whatever format and medium you want.
  • If you want to share your entries with us, feel free to post them in the comments of each prompt post. This is also optional.

 

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:

  • If you are not used to journaling every day, or have trouble journaling regularly then this may be challenging for you. I recommend carrying your journal with at all times during November. This way, you will be able to use any downtime you have to jot down a few sentences.
  • Don’t obsess about topics. If you have something in mind, write about it. Otherwise, just use the prompts. It doesn’t have to be the perfect story, and it doesn’t even have to relate to the prompt. It’s all about what you get inspired to write.
  • Have fun! Seriously. That’s the point. Enjoy the challenge….take it seriously enough to be discipline, but have fun with it. Make it your own by doing whatever you want in your journal, and by end of November, you will have some interesting and maybe even awesome stuff to look back on.

Keep us posted with your progress. Even if you don’t want to share your entry, write a comment when you’ve finished your day’s journaling. 

 

 

 

How to Keep A Journal for Planning Retirement

 

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If you are nearing the end of your working life then you may be looking forward to your retirement. I know people who’ve started planning their retirement as much as ten years in advance.  A friend of mine has been keeping a countdown for about eight years, and still continues to remind me how many years, months and weeks he’s left before he can retire.

If your retirement plans involve nothing more than just continue to live in the same home where you live now and spend more time with your family, then you may not require a journal. However, if you have always thought about many things you would like to do when you retire, or if you are thinking about relocating – maybe even to another country – then using a journal to plan your retirement will be very useful.

9 Things to Record In Your Retirement Planning Journal

  1. What Is Your Current Expectation of Retirement
    What do you imagine when you think about your retirement? Are you dreading it? Or do you see it as an opportunity to spend more time with the kids and the grand-kids? How long do you have before you retire? Do you plan to continue working, even part-time or on volunteer basis, after you reach the official retirement age? What do you currently envision doing with your time? How would it affect the other people in your household?
  2. What Would be Your Fantasy Retirement
    Now just think about your retirement from your perspective. What would be the dream retirement for you? What should it include that you wouldn’t dread leaving your current job, and being unemployed? What would you want to do with your time? What are the things that you’ve always wanted to do. Be specific. Use details. Really get into the spirit of this, and plan out your dream retirement.
  3. Your Partner’s Idea of Retirement
    While there are single retirees, more commonly people are in a relationship when they reach a retirement age. If you are in that situation, then you need to consider your partner’s view of retirement too. If you have been putting off having this discussion for the last minute, stop putting it off, because while you may be fantasising about retiring in sunny Florida, your partner maybe thinking about moving to North Carolina to be with the kids, or travelling around the world. If you have less than ten years left to retire, discuss this now. Get your partner to do the step 1 and 2 of the exercise, without interference from you.
  4. What’s the Common Ground
    Compare your retirement fantasy with your partner’s retirement fantasy. Are they same, similar, somewhat similar, or polar opposites? Is there a common ground? How averse are you to each other’s idea of retirement? This is an important stage in both your lives, and therefore one person should not have to sacrifice everything they want. Find common ground between what both of you want to do, and consider your priorities.
  5. How Deep Are Your Pockets
    Money rules! That’s as true during your working life,as it is for your retirement. It doesn’t really matter how much you are not interested in material world, the people you have to pay the bills to are certainly interested. Also, if you want to have an active retirement, doing lots of things, and going to lots of places, you will need funds. That’s not to say you have to be rich. Being aware of your financial situation is more about awareness. Once you know how much money you will have to play with, you can then work out how to be efficient with it.
  6. Where Would You Like To Retire
    This is an important consideration. If you are living in your current location mostly because of your job, and spending most of your time working, then it may not be the location where you want to spend your retirement. Think about the community, and whether there are things of interest for you. Can you go out for a walk? Do you like the weather? How viable will it be financially? If you have always thought about retiring in a particular place, or even just somewhere different, then now is your opportunity to think about it. The world is quite literally your oyster. Retiring abroad, particularly in developing countries, may also be a good option if you need to stretch your dollars or pounds.
  7. Research. Research. Research.
    Do your homework, and learn. Explore your financial options. If you have investments, such as a house, think about what you would like to do with them. Research the locations you might want to live in. What are the pros and cons? Don’t forget to check out details of places – crime rates, rent, living costs etc. as well as what are the things you can do while you are there. If you are planning to move abroad, check immigration laws. Many countries offer numerous benefits to foreign retirees, including tax benefits. It’s worth your while to do your homework. 
  8. Finalise Your Plans
    Once you have followed the first seven steps, you will have a much clearer idea of what you want your retirement to be like. Finalise your plans. Include all aspects, financial and social. Talk to your family, and particularly your partner. However, don’t feel you have to lock yourself in. Continue to write about and fine tune your plans as you approach retirement, so that your plan will evolve over the years. 
  9. Step by Step Guide to Get There
    Once you have a specific plan for your retirement, and you know what you want to do, think about all the things you need to do make it happen. Whether it’s about finding more money, or starting a business that you can run during retirement, or about downsizing to move somewhere else. Your plan will require you to start taking actions now. Figure out what those actions are. Break them down into mini steps, and start doing them.

Your retirement can be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the life you’ve created. With proper planning, you can truly apply the cliché “golden retirement.” Don’t just wait for it to creep up on you. Be an active participant in creating it, so that you can live your retirement on your terms.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY

Regardless of your age, give some thought to your retirement. Even if you are not yet ready to start a retirement journal, think about what you would like your retirement to be like.

Do you have any retirement tips or stories to share? 

 

Would You Like to Do A 30 Day Journaling Challenge?

 

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I asked this on Kaizen Journaling Facebook Page and Twitter last week. I’m thinking about doing a 30 day journaling challenge on this blog, in which we can all participate together.

The idea is to journal every day for a month, even if you write only a sentence or two. I asked whether to just have a daily challenge, or whether I should also post a specific prompt for each day. Those who responded said to post a prompt. 

So now, the question is open to all of you.

Would you like to participate in the 30 day journaling challenge? In November or December? 

Would you like to have daily prompts for this challenge? 

You can participate either by journaling in your journal, or by simply journaling and sharing your response to the prompt within the comments section of each daily post.

What do you think? I would love to hear from ALL OF YOU. 

 

 

Journaling Exercise: What Qualities Matter To You?

 

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One of the best things about being human is that we are subjective. That makes us different. Unique even. We all value different qualities in people we like, whether we are aware of this or not. It’s not about people you love, but more about people you like. 

Think about the people you like to be around. People you admire. People you aspire to be like.

Which qualities are common amongst them?

If you were to make-your-own-friend with custom qualities, and could only have 3 qualities to pick, what would  you pick?

Be discerning in your choice. Really think about what qualities matter to you. However, don’t stop there. For everything that matters to us, there is a reason as to why it matters. Once you have the list of qualities you desire, write about the why

The final part of the exercise is to then write about the people in your life who have those qualities. If hardly anyone does, what can you do to attract people with those qualities in your life? 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY

Do this exercise in your journal. 

 

 

 

Organized Journaling: Date Your Entries

 

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Journaling can be creative. It can be an expression of your creative self – in whatever way you choose. 

Draw.

Doodle.

Use colours.

Write every day.

Write every month.

Write whenever you want.

Mix mediums and formats.

Write backwards. 

The Most Sacred Rule of Journaling: DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. 

HOWEVERAlways Date Your Entries.

 

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#c90000″]5 Reasons Why You Should Date Your Entries[/typography]

  1. For future reference
    When you look back at your entries, having a date gives you a marker. When did  you write this? That information alone will tell you: at what stage of life you were in; what were major circumstances at the time which might have led you to write it; how did these ideas or thoughts emerge. 
  2. To easily find information
    You remember that you wrote something down, and you might even have a vague recollection about the time. Last week, or last month. Dated entries (even better if you write days of the week) make it easier to find information. If it was something at work, you are not going to be looking at weekend, so you can skip those, and focus on the week days. You might remember other elements that will narrow down your search. Dated entries make your journals more accessible.
  3. For analysis of your past
    When you are attempting to break patterns of the past, especially in areas where you seem to make no progress, it’s important to analyse those patterns. You need to understand how those issues started, for how long you’ve been repeating the patterns, and dating your entries give you that essential information.
  4. To use as bibliography
    If you decide to use your journals for writing, whether to write your memoir or to write articles, you will need specific information as to when you wrote those entries. Depending on what you are writing, you might also need to know where you wrote the entries.
  5. For the recipients of your legacy
    If you are planning to leave your journals behind, whether for your children or for whoever’s interested, they will thank you forever if you’ve dated the entries. Just imagine how frustrating it would be to someone who attempted to study your life and had no idea what happened when. 

Dating journal entries is simply a good practice, and one that you will be grateful for, so if  you don’t already do it, start doing it now.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY

Do you date your journal entries? Share in the comments below.

 

How to Keep an Effective Travel Journal

 

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Travel is not only for experience, but also for memories. Every trip creates its special memories, and you hope that when you are too old to take new trips, memories of the old ones will sustain you.

Keeping a travel journal is the best way to preserve your memories. Yes you can take photos, but they are merely one aspect of your trip. It’s also usually a note-quite-honest aspect, because you pose for pictures. You can also take videos, record everything as it’s said, but then the actual experience might be lessened while you are busy recording. Even with a video, while you capture what’s going on, you are still capturing what’s going on inside you.

Travel journal is your ultimate souvenir. It’s cheap – the only costs are a notebook and a pen. It’s unique. Your travel journal will be different than anyone else’s travel journal. It’s a method through which you can capture the facts and feelings of your trip. That way, the record of your journey will also be as unique as your memories.

If the memory fails when you are old, your travel journal will take you back to the time and the place. Whether it’s the scent of lavender in the fields of Provence or the pyramids of Egypt or the colours of an Indian temple. You can pass on your journals to your children, or just keep them for your personal exploration. You can use them for inspiration to write travel articles or your personal memoir. How you choose to use your journal is up to you, but no matter what you decide, a travel journal will be something you will treasure forever. 

While there is no specific way to keep a travel journal, there are things that could make a difference between an interesting travel journal, or something that will sound like a monotone description of your minute by minute movement, or worse, like a guidebook. 

The most effective travel journals include Three Stages of the Journey: 

ANTICIPATION

Your trip starts the moment you plan to go somewhere. Sometimes, this may have begun years in advance, but for the purposes of the travel journal, we will count the time you confirm – whether by buying airline tickets, booking a hotel etc. – that you are definitely going somewhere. The moment you do this, you are start day dreaming. You get impatient and wish yourself there. You imagine what it will be like. You start thinking about shopping you need to do, or any practicalities such as visas or vaccinations that you need to take care of. 

Record your anticipation. Write about:

  • Your expectations from this trip
  • Why did you pick this destination
  • What plans do you have
  • Do you expect to do something special while you are travelling 
  • How do you feel about your upcoming trip. Try to capture your excitement and expectations. 

JOURNEY

This portion of the travel journal begins when you are on your way. It may begin while  you are waiting at the airport to board your flight, or in your car driving to your destination. This is where the meat of your travel journaling comes in.

Here you can record: 

  • Places you visit
  • People you meet
  • Experiences with a new location – both positives and negatives
  • Things you find extra-ordinary about being in a foreign environment
  • Any mishaps or success with a new language
  • Snatches of conversation you hear
  • How you feel about the places you visit
  • Kindness or cruelty that you witness
  • Things that remind you of home
  • Things you fall in love with
  • Your feelings about being on this trip
  • Things you think you are missing out on
  • Adventures you’ve experienced 
  • Local food
  • Shopping
  • Local flora and fauna
  • Facilities available, and what’s been difficult or easy

You are only limited by your imagination. Paste any memorabilia you collect on the way in your journal, but be selective. You don’t need to save every single receipt. Keep things that remind you of things you want to remember. 

REFLECTION

A trip doesn’t end as soon you come home. Once you are home, you have the memories and often the longing to be back there. You might think of the experiences you had, or miss the new friends you made. You may miss the sunshine, or the amazing new dishes you tried. All the things that were memorable about your trip, good or bad, you will be reliving them when you get home. When you look at your pictures, you will be thinking of stories associated with those pictures. 

This is the time to jot down your reflections about the trip you have just completed. It’s best to do this soon after you’ve returned so that impressions are still fresh in your mind.

You can write about: 

  • Were your expectations met
  • The best and worst experiences
  • Best memories of the people you met
  • What did you love most about the place
  • Would you go back there again
  • What experiences would you care to repeat
  • What experiences would you rather not repeat
  • When were you most afraid
  • When were you most excited

Again, personalise this. Write about whatever feelings you have about your trip. Savour your memories in your journal before they become stale. 

In your travel journal, you don’t have to limit yourself to a particular format. Doodle or draw. Use different colours. Use stickers. Remember, it’s your journal, so make it your own. Be authentic

 

 

 

Ask the Readers: Do You Use Journaling for Spirituality/Religion?

 

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Journaling, as all the Kaizen Warriors know, is suitable for all areas of life. You can use it to explore different areas of your life, as well as to affirm your beliefs, or develop your progress.

Spirituality, religion, faith – whatever it is that you call it, becomes important for most people at some point in their life. It’s right there at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, when we seek more than just the fulfilment of ourselves as individual.

Whatever beliefs you were brought up with, at some point in your adult life, you need to consciously make a decision as to what you believe. You may choose to believe in the same religion as your ancestors, but at some point, for you to truly have faith, it must be your choice and not simply something that was taught to you. 

Do you use your journaling for this purpose? Do you write about your faith, your religion, or your spiritual beliefs? Whether it is to find out what they are, or about how they help you in your life. How does your journaling integrate with your spirituality?

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY

Answer this question in the comments below. 

 

 

Why I’m Avoiding A New Journal

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Last night I finished my current journal. Journal #32 to be precise. Last few pages are filled in tiny writing because I was travelling and didn’t want to run out of space.

Usually, I’m excited to finish a journal and start a new one. Ending a journal is almost a ritual. I like to reflect on what’s happened in that period, and part with that journal on the basis that our mutual journey is now finished. I like clean endings. I like goodbyes, rather than uncertainties.

This current journal didn’t give me a chance to say goodbye. The last few pages are filled with writings from my trip, to the place where I returned after 11 years. It left me in reflection, emotional, and thought overload. My journal pages ran out, but the overload has not finished yet.

There is still so much to say, so much to think about, and so when I start a new journal, it will be a continuation rather than a beginning. I am avoiding my new journal because I did not get a clean ending and a clean beginning, even though I know they are merely illusions.

Life is not a tidy book, with chapters that each have beginning, middle, and an end. Life is a chaotic story in a free-written form. Sometimes, if you look for them, you can see the beginnings, and middles. You never see the end, because of course then you are dead.

I’m giving myself a few hours to adjust, to accept this continuation, and start my journal #33 sometime today. You feel obligated to start with a bang, otherwise it seems like a waste. Life is full of bangs, some bangs just make less noise than others. I’ll remember that as I start scribbling, because I might procrastinate now and again, but when you are a scribbler right down to your soul, there is nothing else to do but keep scribbling.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Journal about your ideas for beginnings and endings of a new journal. 

 

 

Self-Confidence 101: Embrace Your Expertise

 

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The way you react to the world, to the events and people in your life, to the new situations, has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself. It has a lot to do with your inner confidence.

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.

–          Samuel Johnson

If you really want to succeed in life – and by success, I mean, having a life that will make you feel fulfilled – you need confidence. Not just in your abilities, but in yourself as a person. Self-confidence, like most qualities, is something you can develop. Embracing your expertise is one giant step towards it. Embracing your expertise requires a degree of self-awareness, because you need to know what your expertise actually are. It also requires enough confidence to acknowledge and accept that you are good at something. 

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

–          Marie Curie

You are gifted for something. Each one of us is. We have strengths and weaknesses, and when we nurture our strengths, we feel cleverer, stronger, better than we ever thought we were.

It takes a degree of arrogance or a whole lot of evidence to say that you are the world’s top-most expert at something. But what about expert enough? In the practical world, expertise is not an absolute measure. It is a relative measure.

When I worked in corporate jobs, I was quite often considered an “expert” for IT related issues. I can assure you that by actual expert standards, I’m no such thing. However, I was an expert because I knew more than the people I was able to help.

Do I believe that I’m the world’s top-most expert in journaling? Absolutely not. However, I am expert enough. I am confident in my experience and abilities to be certain that I have enough, solid knowledge of journaling, its benefits and methods to be able to share it with people in a way that would help them.  Perhaps even enrich their lives somewhat.

You see on news channels bringing all these experts to give their views about current issues. Are all of these people always the very best in the world in their field? Hardly. But they are experts, because they know more about their specialised topics than majority of the audience watching that channel.

Therefore, let go of your fear of embracing your expertise. No one’s going to call you out on it, or ask you for your official credentials. The only evidence of your expertise you need is the evidence you can provide through your actions.

Do you have a portfolio of experiences behind you that show off your skill?

Here’s an example of what this portfolio could be:

  • Knitting: all the items have knit for yourself or other people over the years, even if you haven’t made a penny from it
  • Web Design: websites you’ve built, and managed
  • Writing: Blogging, articles, essays, novels, just about anything that you can show off as your work
  • Dancing: Videos of your dancing, or you can give on-the-spot audition

These are just a few examples. For absolutely every skill, you can build up a portfolio. If the skill involves working with other people, then it’s the people you are able to help who give you the expert status. If it involves dealing with items, it’s the quality of your items.

Everyone is good at something. It might be a soft-skill, such as listening or really being able to empathise. It might be a hard skill, such as statistical analysis. No matter what it is, find you expertise, and embrace it.

Four Steps to Find Your Expertise

  1. Think about what your friends, family, co-workers are always asking for your help with? Do they always call you for cleaning tips, relationship advice, ask you to sort out the party planning, or to reformat their PC? Often people don’t notice the things they are naturally good at, because it comes so easily. Pay attention to all the compliments you receive, and you just mind find hidden gifts that you never even considered.
  2. Make a personal resume. This one should include all your professional jobs and your hobbies. What have you spent your life on so far? Include any projects you’ve completed.
  3. What do you enjoy doing? When do you have the most fun? What activities do you pursue when you want to relax? By the way, if the only thing on this list is “watching TV” the world’s full of experts on that.
  4. Keep a detailed diary for a week. Note that I say a diary. Keep a record of what you did, accounting for every minute, for one week. This will tell you exactly how much time you spend, doing what. Don’t change your routine to make it sound better. Capture the rhythm of your natural life, and you will have more opportunities to find your expertise.

Once you know what you are expert at, embrace that expertise. Use it. Use it for personal projects, use it professionally if you can, and use it to help people. Develop your expertise, and you never know where it might lead you. 

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Do you believe you are expert in something? Tell us in the comments below. 

 

 

 

Journaling for Stress Relief

 

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Are you stressed? Stressed about work? Stressed about your relationship or lack of it? Stressed about  your children? Stressed about money? Stressed about  your life choices?

Every one of us gets stressed at some point. Some of us manage it better than others, but stress is a common affliction. In today’s society, it’s rarer to find people who are not stressed, particularly in the big cities where we live like we are trying to win a race.

While therapy has its place, not everyone can afford it, or even need it. Sometimes, it’s just stress….something that you could manage yourself if you put in the effort. Journaling can help you manage or even eliminate your stress.

A caveat: if you have serious stress related problems which are affecting your health, causing you depression etc. then you should consult a doctor. Journaling will still help, but you may also need professional advice.

However, for everyday variety stress which most of us suffer from, let’s look at how journaling can help.

Expression Without Boundaries

If you have a bad day at work, do you ever find that you feel better after you hash it out over a cup of coffee, or a beer with a friend? You whine, they nod and listen, and agree with you completely that your boss is a total ass. After the first drink, you are chilled, and talking about something entirely different.

Whining is good for you. Not all the time. Not about everything. But now and again, to get things out of your system. Even if you have friends you can do this with, they may not be available all the time. Besides, you shouldn’t take advantage of friendship just to whine. Instead, use your journal. It’s a private place. No one else has to see what you write. In your journal, you can be completely subjective and write about what’s stressing you out.

The whole purpose of this is expression without boundaries. Nothing you write is wrong. Nothing has to be censored. Write exactly what you feel. Give your emotions a chance to exist, even for a brief moment, because bottling up is what turns regular people into raging maniacs. Give yourself the freedom to write honestly, and without reserve.

Reflection and Perspective

Sometimes, just the first step will whoosh the stress out of you like an air from a balloon. You will feel lighter and freer, simply because you got the stressful thoughts out of your system. However, at other times, especially if it’s a more complicated issue that is not sorted – such as marital or financial problems – then just whining may not be enough.

That’s when you move onto the next step. Give yourself an hour or so after the first step, then read through what you wrote. Try to be as objective as possible. It won’t always be easy. Sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and read your entry as if you are critically examining someone else’s work.

Is the scope of your problems really as bad as you thought? Get some perspective. In the grand-scheme of things, this problem that you are stressing about, effecting your life?

Give Yourself Time and Permission to Relax 

It’s important to give yourself  time and permission, regularly, to de-stress. Many of us “busy” people neglect it because it feels like a waste of time. However, you will be far more productive when you are relaxed and happy, and not stressed.

Do something that relaxes you. 

Sit down and watch your favourite movie.

Read a book.

Light some candles and make love to your partner.

Have a nap.

Meditate.

Listen to music.

Do whatever works for you, but give yourself time and permission and to relax. 

Journal Your Next Step

If you are stressed because of a more complicated reason, I would still recommend you take all of the above steps, and then after you have completed all three, plan out your further actions. Instead of focusing on your problem, instead of thinking about how stressed you are, think about the solutions. 

What can you do?

What action can you take?

You don’t have to have all the answers right now. You don’t need to come up with a perfect solution that will eliminate all problems from your life (that never happens). Just think about your most pressing problem, and the next step you need to take towards fixing it. That’s it. Just one step.

Write down that one step you need to take, how soon can you start taking that, and what exactly you need to do.

Be very specific. 

Then do it! 

Stress is a symptom not  a cause. If you want to eliminate stress from your life, or reduce it as much as possible, then you need to do something about the causes that create it. Journaling will give you the relief through emotional release, and it will give you space for practical planning. 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Start journaling about whatever is stressing you out right now.