It’s a holiday morning and I’m sitting outside just after dawn writing in my journal, which I’ve titled, “Life Fitness.” It’s an important and valuable transition from my morning meditation and the events to come in the day, whether that’s writing an article, planning a course or playing catch with Jackson there in the background.
Important, because it helps me capture what happened yesterday in my journey and where I am spiritually in my dreams and meditation. Valuable, in that it helps me focus both on the day ahead and what matters most, and on the years behind and what I’ve learned, where I am and why I’m here.
I prefer to journal in the morning. It’s part of my morning practice, my early bird personality. But it is equally valuable to do at the end of the day, either before you leave your desk or before you turn the lights off. Either way, you’re cueing your mind to continue processing the events of your life experience in a way that makes the learnings more accessible.
As you can see, it’s arranged in four vertical columns: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual, with a black row recording the date and separating each day. At the bottom, you see tabs: there’s a tab for each year, going back to 2010 when I started. If I want to, I can search for every Memorial Day since then. That ability to look back helps me track my journey, how far I’ve come, what I’ve been able to build, what I’ve been able to leave behind.
In the Physical column, I log my weight and exercise, how I’m feeling and what I need to work on to maintain my fitness. I write about work I’ve done outside and track by progress. Missed the gym twice this week and then, when I went Saturday, they were closed for the holiday weekend. So I’ll do some extra hill work this morning to keep fit. And yesterday, mowing the lawns in the heat was a great workout in itself.
In Mental, I log the work I’ve been doing — almost nothing yesterday after the long, busy week. Did some reading in the afternoon. On weekdays, this is usually filled with a log of the work I did yesterday, the coaching calls, the writing, the ah-ha! moments I want to secure.
Emotional is what it sounds like, who am I being and what do I want? How did my day feel yesterday and how does it feel when I look back? My relationships, my homelife, an old movie we watched or a drink on the porch with a friend.
The Spiritual column records any dreams or experiences in meditation. The book I was reading was a journey to understand the spiritual world of brujos (spiritual masters) in Central Mexico and I wrote what their stories brought up for me.
So here’s a question: Why bother? Why spend ten to twenty minutes a day (sometimes longer if there’s something important I want to capture)? Is having ten years of observations so important? Sometimes.
But here’s the secret of the journal and its central value: awareness. Awareness of yourself and who you’re being, day by day. What they say about “the unexamined life”? It’s not that it’s not worth living, but that it’s devalued. Being aware of your awareness — calling yourself to awareness each day through your journal and carrying that awareness with you through the day — builds lasting value in everything you do.
So somewhere between your holiday activities this Memorial Day, sit down and write yourself a note. Memorialize yourself. Where are you in your life? Why are you here? Who are you being and what do you want? What wants to happen in your one wild and precious life?
(If you would like a copy of the Excel journal template in the picture, let me know and I’ll send it to you.)