Use Journaling to Get Motivated
Winning a football game takes more than brute strength, brilliant strategy, and iron resolve; it also requires fans.
The cheers and adoration of fans provide an essential ingredient of success: motivation.
You know, the old get up and go. The force that's irrefutable. Without it we wouldn't get anything accomplished.
No matter what your plans and dreams, it can be brutally difficult to whip up the motivation to actually start something. We tend to wallow in inertia, procrastinating, unwilling to make any kind of change.
There's a definite breakdown between the thought of something and the doing of it. Once you do manage to get started, momentum keeps you going. It's the moment of actually beginning that is so hard. We so often come to the brink of action, and then find some excuse to put it off.
Much of the time, there may be deep-seated reasons why you're avoiding the project or behavior. But a small percent of your dreams persist, returning to tug at your heart. How can you finally get on board with aspirations that haunt you?
The answer is simple: come at your target tangentially.
• Instead of wanting to start an exercise routine and never doing it, create a journal in which you talk about your interest in exercising and all aspects of your perceptions around being physically fit.
• Instead of fantasizing about being a writer, use a journal to mosey around in your writer's soul.
• Instead of complaining about your job and sending out a million applications that are for the most part ignored, try journaling about who you are, what you are grateful for, and how you can best serve yourself and others.
Journaling about and around any topic that's sensitive for you opens up that area in your life and paves the way for change and growth.
Cheerleaders work hard to get us in the mood, so that the requisite level of fan enthusiasm can be achieved, so that the players can win the game. Similarly, journal writing focuses your mind and energies so that actual doing becomes far more possible. It's almost as though you trick yourself into getting started.
Maybe you want to write a YA novel, for instance, but never seem to find the time to get started. Then one day you find a cool notebook. You already have a clutch of your favorite kind of pen. At the top of the first page you write, "I don't know why I want to write a novel for young people." Then you keep writing.
A few weeks later, after you've written just about every day, relentlessly exploring the topic, you feel the urge to go back over some of your writings. Your progress/change readily becomes apparent. You thought you were spinning wheels, but you see that's untrue. You grow, evolve, and constantly change.
Change is not difficult; it is natural. It happens moment by moment.
Are you serious about that new habit, that new course of study or way of handling your responses in certain situations? Instead of browbeating yourself for procrastinating, try journaling.
And then, please tell me how you're progressing. I'm collecting success stories!
Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari has published nine books to date. For more on ways that journaling brings self-knowledge, see Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life.
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