An Evolving Journal Template

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Journaling is a tool that has wildly and rapidly changed the course of my life. However, it has only served me this way after I started applying a specific approach to it.

I’m writing this article flipped. My template is below. Feel free to look at it, copy it, or extract whatever is meaningful to you immediately. I’ll explain more about it later for those who are curious about anything unclear. My introduction and decision making thoughts are at the end.

Evolving Journal In Three Chunks

My journal template has been evolving over the past few years. Here is the current template that I am using to journal. Feel free to copy whatever you find useful.

1. Positive Changes Journal Template

Daily Check In: YYYY–MM-dd

Shifts within me:

This is where I write all the Positive Changes that are happening in me. Anything that is a positive change in my thoughts, my emotions, my habits, or inner world.

Examples:

  • I feel more responsible about ___.
  • I’m actually enjoying my work more than ever, I’m really able to get into the flow.

Intentions and EQs:

This is where I write down intentions as well as “how” and “what” questions to direct my mind in a problem solving way.

  • I intend to be the most powerful component of my life. I influence people, they do not influence me.
  • How can I chunk down everything I want to do into trackable bits?
  • How can I use my knowledge of SEO and incorporate it in _____?
  • What are the top things I need to be focusing on this week?

New & Dev Opportunities:

This is where I write about things that are new or things that are in the process of unfolding into my life.

Examples:

  • My cell phone tripod just arrived, and it’s easier to take videos than before.
  • I just found out about ____ services that will make the process of ____ easier.

Actual Shifts:

These are physical things that actually changed. It’s very easy forget the things that go right. It’s very easy to feel like nothing is happening and focus on what’s not working. This is the list of the small treasures that are working to prevent falling into such traps.

Examples

  • I got the job!
  • I made the deal!
  • I made my first customer!
  • I had the best date of my life.

2. Projects Journal

This is a URL that links to all my projects and tasks in my personal, work, and side-hustle lives. They are broken down into ABCDE goals. If you’re not familiar with ABDCDE goals, scroll down to the end of this article for a quick introduction.

3. Accountability Journal

Things I Need to Get Done

What I did today and why

Things I am grateful for

Quotes to remember

Explanation of Journal Chunks

1. Positive Changes Journal

I make sure that I don’t write about negative things. I’m not avoiding the subject, I just don’t find any real value in going over things that brought me down and perpetuating my life in that direction.

Instead, I find it crucial to prime the mind to focus on getting momentum, prime my mind for solving the problems that lay ahead, notice what is working my way, and taking note of things that actually happened.

  • Shifts within me” is one of the keys to this journaling approach. Each one of these sections naturally cascades thought into the next. By focusing on how I’ve become better in my inner world, I naturally flow into a state of questioning and pondering.
  • Intentions and EQs” (stands for Effective Questions) are what stir up my mind and bring out ideas from daydreaming possibilities. It’s full of “How” or “What” questions. When I was journaling on paper, I would end up filling a whole page or more just on this specific area.
  • New and Developing Opportunities” allows me to have those ‘aha’ moments and start brainstorming things I could do, or see how I’m going to leverage certain things unfolding and heading my way.
  • For “Actual Shifts”, its small victories we’ve had along the journey that allowed us to climb mountains. It’s easy to lose sight of them, and going back to them can be very inspiring and liberating. This is my favorite part about going back to previous journals.

2. Projects Journal

I have many projects that I am working on concurrently, and it helps me juggle so many visions that each have baby steps that need to happen. For example, I’m involved in:

  • music
  • writing
  • running businesses
  • volunteering in my community
  • going to classes
  • planning dates for my wife
  • retooling myself as a software engineer
  • irregular errands for the home

3. Accountability Journal

This is the optional part of my journal and I usually don’t get to. It does however play a very critical role in my journaling process. This portion I use because I don’t know how the day is going to go. It handles the following situations:

  • I need to still build up some momentum due to procrastination or I’m just blanking out and can’t focus.
  • I’m journaling at the end of my day and I want to audit if I even did the right things. Knowing what I did and why allows me to look and see if I was focusing on things. It’s easy to focus on things that don’t really matter. Upon reflection we can patterns that reveal some things seemed important at the time but really weren’t in the big picture.

Introduction to Ideas

Why is this called an Evolving Journal Template?

Not only have I found this specific template to be an evolving trigger in my own life, but it itself has been evolving for quite some time. I’ve been adding and removing sections to this journal over the course of years. I hope you won’t be rigid about any of it. What is remaining is what I’ve seen that works for directing my mind for growth, happiness, and joy.

I think it’s important to be constantly tweaking and improving things. Parts of this template I’ve learned from others and I’ve given credit below. Other parts have been from trial and error, or purely out of necessity.

Feel free to take whatever works and make it your own. And if you could tell me about improvements you’ve made, I’d love to learn what you’ve done as well.

Deciding between Paper vs Soft-Copy

There’s something about writing things down on paper that is unique and magical. I can understand if you never want to leave it. However electronic copies have some things that are equally irreplaceable. Here’s why I switched to soft copy journaling:

  1. Ease of finding notes through search features
  2. Easy to preserve them
  3. More sense of privacy
  4. Able to continue journaling on the go
  5. Internal links into other notes
  6. Templating

Evernote allows me to use templates. You’ve seen the structure I’m using above. I’m sure many softwares have this feature as well. Having templates allows me to focus my mind solely on what I want to release into words. I find it very liberating.

How to Prioritize Goals into ABCDE Goals

I mentioned ABCDE goals earlier. I’m not sure where I learned it, but it’s a pretty simple and straight concept:

  1. A Goals are tasks that have high consequences (there should be few of these. Ideally around 2–3) that you’re focusing on.
  2. B Goals are tasks that have consequences if they are not done, usually these are things that are important but not the focus of your day.
  3. C Goals are tasks that don’t really have any negative consequences if not completed. They tend to be ‘’nice-to-have’s that can be delayed.
  4. D Goals are supposed to be delegated to others. The list is too long by this point, I removed this.
  5. E Goals are things that you think you shouldn’t be doing in the first place and need to be Eliminated. I eliminated this from my list as well.

Giving Credit Where its Due

I need to give credit that the Positive Changes part of my journal was entirely learned from Lola Jone’s Enlightened Business Course.

I’m sharing this totally for free, her work has changed my life for the better. I am not an affiliate partner and I am not getting paid in anyway to refer her.

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