I originally ran this post almost a year ago on my old website. I thought it would be cool to revise it and put it all down in a free 4 page E-Book that you can access here!
I remember having a slightly different take away from a famous story about Thomas Edison. You know the one, you’ve heard, ad nauseam, regarding his response to a reporter who asked him about all his failures with trying to figure out the light bulb? Edison’s response was something like “I didn’t fail thousands of times, I simply found thousands of ways, NOT to invent the light bulb”
Once we get away from some fantastic lessons about positive thinking and persistence, one might have the urge to ask “So, Tommy, how does one remember all those attempts, what works, what doesn’t, notes to self etc?” The quick answer is, You don’t! That’s why we need to write it all down and that leads us to perhaps a better question “How are we capturing this series of experiments we call life?”
A Journal can help you do that.
Before we continue, I want to dispel any false perceptions you may have that the journal is a warm and fuzzy place for you to write about some boy in study hall or perhaps create one of those stupid poems about butterflies (the ones where people have to forward to 10 people or will die a painful death). Actually, that isn’t true. It can be, I just wouldn’t tell too many people.
I use my journal for many things:
If I hear someone describe something in a way that has me thinking “I need to say it like that” it goes in the journal. When I read a book, listen to a podcast, instructional cd, my journal is right there dying to learn something new with me. When I stumble across a vocabulary word that I need to learn, I don’t avoid it, I write it down, look it up and own a new word. I write down ideas as I get them, brainstorm things that are challenging me, ideas for future blog posts, Linkedin discussions etc. If I’ve been particularly pissy, I write down what led up to it, figure out how I can take ownership and most of all, how I can keep that emotion from visiting too often.
There are numerous reasons why you should keep one too ranging from research suggesting it lowers stress to having a home base for your ideas. For me, it keeps me observant and in learning mode and that in turn, keeps Uncle Paul from getting sloppy!.
Alright, so what else can one put in a journal?
Great question (if I do say so myself) Here’s a list of 50 ideas for you to chew on. Most of them are considered “promptings” that is, topics that can get you thinking and writing and in turn, create powerful new distinctions. My hope is that they will prompt you to come up with some even better topics of your own.
1) People buy difference. What’s yours?
2) Your Daily “5” (What are 5 actions you will take today to move you towards your goal?)
3) Books you want to read.
4) Notes from books you’ve read.
5) Your goals and periodic progress reports.
6) Cool phrases/packaging. When you hear someone describe something in a catchy way, rip it off and write it down in your journal dude!
7) Inspirational quotes
8) Venting . . . get it out of your system by writing it down, pondering it and then moving on. Revisit on your terms and in your own time.
9) New distinctions.
10) Gratitude log. What are you most grateful for in your life?
11) Brainstorm something you find challenging. Let your pen move freely. Go for as many ideas as you can. Get selective later.
12) What did you learn today? What do you need to do more of tomorrow? Less of tomorrow?
13) Create a “Never do that” list.
14) Create a “Never say that” list.
15) Create a “bucket list”. What will you do before you “kick the bucket”?
16) What things are you good at that you want to get even better at?
17) What things are you not so good at and could stand some polish?
18) Write about the sale that got away. Provide the why, the how and the lesson you took from it. What will you do differently next time? Try to flag a particular skill you want to work on as a result. What is your action plan based on that experience?
19) Write about the new account and the steps that led up to it. Think specifics!
20) Difficult client. What makes them difficult? In what ways can you improve that relationship? How can you keep this from happening in the future?
21) Give the details of how you were able to get in the door of a tough prospect?
22) What are the qualities of a successful rep? How do you stack up against those qualities? Create an action plan.
23) What have been 3 of your biggest success since High School?
24) Vocabulary: Whenever you come across a word you don’t know, look it up and write it down in your journal so you “own it”. Watch how fast all those new words stack up!
25) 1 new positive habit you need to acquire.
26) What are you most proud of in your life? Why?
27) What are you most excited about in your life? Why?
28) Someone who influenced you. What did you learn?
29) Write out how you would respond to “Tell me what you do” Sleep on it and revise it. Then revise it again and when you get done, revise it another time. Own it!
30) How do you determine success? Fill in the blank I’ll know when I’ll be successful when _________________
31) What has been your biggest lesson this year?
32) Write down as many creative ways to get into an account as you can.
33) Script 3 different voice mails. Sleep on it and revise them! Test them by calling your voicemail and listening as a prospect would.
34) What are 15 – 20 killer questions you can ask on your next appointment. Try them out, revise, revise and then revise. Strive for flawless execution!
35) What do you want your clients to say about you behind your back?
36) In what ways can you be more memorable?
37) In what ways can you balance your life better? Remember: Successful people conquer the world at home too. So how will you conquer the world at home my friend?
38) What are some things that you could laugh about if you gave it a try?
39) Things I’d do if I were running things at work.
40) 5 standard objections and 3 responses for each one.
41) Dream vacation: Provide the details. Involve all your senses. What do you see, feel and hear?
42) What are 3 things you will reward yourself with in the next 12 months?
43) Answer this question How will I invest in myself?
44) What book (s) had an impact on your life? Go back and re read it knowing that at different times of our lives we approach with different perspectives. Write a book report. What were your biggest take aways?
45) Write about a fence you need to mend.
46) What was the toughest thing you had to overcome?
47) Things “Not To Do” list.
48) What’s something you always wanted to do but didn’t give it a try? What held you back? What can you do to make it happen?
49) In what ways can you proactively give to your network?
50) Someone you admire and why.
So there you have it. 50 ways for you to rock your journal. Don’t have one? Time to get one my friend!
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