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Creating the Life You Want Through Your Journal

January 24, 2013
edison to do list

Thomas Edison’s to-do List

by Kerry Kilpatrick


“What are your smallest, your biggest, your oldest, your newest, your most deeply hidden desires, ambitions, aspirations…the ones that are so far out, so impossible, so unobtainable, that never have you so much as whispered them aloud…to anyone…not even to God? What are they? What have you stopped allowing yourself to want? Lynn Grabhorn from Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting

Have you taken the time to write down your goals? It’s a well-known fact that writing down goals can change your life but most people don’t take the time to do it. Why? Because they have not made it a habit! If you want to see dramatic changes in your life you must start making it a habit to write down your goals. I’ll explain how below but first let’s look at the why.

In his groundbreaking book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg discusses a study done by Duke University that found “that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.” If you really want to see some changes in your life you must take charge of your habits.

In Duhigg’s book he discusses what he calls “Keystone Habits”. Those are habits that have the amazing ability to dramatically affect many other habits in your life. Here is how he described them:

“The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns…Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers…If you focus on changing or cultivating keystone habits, you can cause widespread shifts.”

Duhigg uses a great quote from NFL Coach Tony Dungy that illustrates his observation of the true ingredient behind champions: “Champions don’t do extraordinary things, They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking…they follow the habits they’ve learned.”

If you want to make dramatic change in your life you must learn new habits. It is the only thing that will get you out of the rut that old habits create.

It is my contention that a journal has proven to be a keystone habit in the lives of so many of histories greatest achievers. More specifically it is my contention that writing goals in your journal is a keystone habit that will bring about change that is in direct proportion to the size of your dreams.

Here’s how to begin the habit of written goals. Start in the morning by writing down a to-do list, or the goals that you want to accomplish before the end of the day. It may look like Thomas Edison’s list pictured above. These are short-term goals. As you accomplish them put a check next to them. At the end of the day add a short comment to assess your progress. Something like “I accomplished 4 out of my 5 goals today! Hooray!” That’s instant positive feedback and it will encourage you to set more goals. It is a small win that sets up many other wins. Duhigg describes a small win in this way:

“Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves.”

As you see progress or the “small wins” that occur with your daily goals you will be encouraged to begin making longer term goals and goals in all areas of your life. Magic can happen if you develop the habit of written goals. Don’t start off with huge goals just start with your small daily goals. The huge goals will be a natural outgrowth of the confidence that ensues from your small wins.

Regular review of your goals also helps guarantee their successful outcome. I’ll address that habit in another entry.

Let me know your “small wins” from your journaling!




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