Entrepreneurs can be so busy in today’s always-on world that they lose sight of themselves. This is why introspection should have an essential place in an entrepreneur’s toolbelt. After all, understanding your goals and motivations can help you come to terms with what you want out of life.
Introspective activities like daily journaling or reflection can aid in stress-relief and provide in-depth insight into your thoughts and feelings. The underlying problem, however, is that many don’t fully understand how to do these activities in a way that’s truly beneficial. To provide some guidance, fifteen members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer their insight into how any entrepreneur can make the most of daily reflection or journaling practices.
1. Highlight Your Evolution
I actually use Instagram as a journal in many ways. I use it to highlight my evolution as a business leader, mother and simply as a person. I love Instagram for this vulnerable journey because it allows others to learn from my path, share their wisdom and connect with my experience on a very human level.
2. Write With Purpose
You can sometimes journal and feel nothing. Write with purpose. When you open your journal, write something worth reading later on. Consequently, you encourage yourself to do something worth writing in real life.
3. Cut Out All the Noise
It’s been proven that your brain has better creativity when it’s not stressed or engaged with a critical mental activity, like working on a spreadsheet. Remove yourself from the office, get some space either in a quiet room or go for a walk outside. This will give you clarity, and help unlock the creative (right) center of the brain.
4. Ask Yourself Three Questions
Ask yourself the following three questions each and every day: 1) What did I learn today? 2) What am I grateful for today? 3) How could I have made today even better? These three questions will help you with introspection, but also leave you with a way to improve tomorrow!
5. Set Intentions
Journal with deep intention and reflection. When you have journals dedicated to different categories, it becomes less like a diary and more like a goal-oriented action plan. Intentionally ask yourself the questions you normally would put off, such as “What’s the one thing that if I implemented it in my business would create change in other areas of my life?”
6. Do an Evening Audit
Spend a few minutes each night trying to identify the largest learning opportunities and areas for improvement. When you practice reflection on a microscale each day, it speeds up the learning process to improve and grow. You will head into the next day more prepared than the last, over and over again.
7. Don’t Edit Your Thoughts
When people write, they tend to pause, correct themselves and put down “correct” thoughts on paper. Doing this is a disservice because you’re missing out on the “real” issues your mind can bring up. When journaling, use a freewriting approach and write nonstop and without editing. You’ll get real gems of insight that will help you grow.
8. Schedule It
Schedule time for it. If you don’t, it will likely fall through the cracks. It doesn’t need to be a lot of time—say, maybe 15 minutes at the end of each day. When you know you’re supposed to do something, you’ll do it, as well as reap the benefits. Before you know it, you’ll have yourself a habit and be a better person for it.
9. Keep a Gratitude Journal
If you find yourself harboring negative thoughts, it’s helpful to keep a gratitude journal. You write down everything you’re grateful for that day and continue expressing your blessings to reinforce positivity. After a while, you get used to seeing the good even in unpleasant situations, which helps you make the most out of them.
10. Turn to Video
Find the method that works best for you. If your mind tends to move faster than you can write, consider using video or audio as a means to record your reflection. Not only are you getting comfortable on camera, but you are able to move through thoughts faster and utilize the strength of saying ideas and thoughts out loud.
11. Build on What You Know
Your journaling will reveal interesting information about yourself, your business and the people around you. When you’re reflecting on what you know, think about how you can build from this information. The more time you have to assess your thoughts and goals, the easier it will be to improve your efficiency and time-management skills.
12. Ditch All Expectations
I think a practice like journaling works best when you make it a daily habit and don’t expect any immediate results. It’s helpful for getting in touch with your thoughts and feelings, especially if you make entries without filtering yourself in any way. Over time, it can help make you more self-aware.
13. Look for Patterns
We are all creatures of habit. Use your journal as an opportunity to look for patterns in your mood and behavior. You can use your reflections to look for trouble areas and resolve them before they cause issues in the future.
14. Set Multiple Goals
What gets measured gets accomplished. Setting timely goals will give you a direction and guide you toward your standards. So divide your goals into three types: short-term, interim and long-term goals. Your first priority should be the short-term goals and so on. Take actions for achieving those goals, and strive every single day to make progress instead of aiming for perfection.
15. Make It an Enjoyable Experience
Set aside time every day to journal. Make sure that you have a comfortable and private place to write. You may want to play music or even set your lighting to put you in the best frame of mind. When you’re relaxed and in the moment, you’re more likely to think clearly and notice details that you might otherwise miss. Making a ritual of your journaling can make it a therapeutic process.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.