Tracking 2018 March 19, 2018 | Dusty Otis Are You A Note Taker? We’ve all heard, “Note takers are history makers.” And we know “The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.” So why are we still not charting personal progress? Are we afraid what we will read, write, or see? We can take notes for our job, so why don’t we take notes for our life? Every “healthy” thing that grows tracks progress and knows its trends. How can we set a goal for a day, week, month, or year and not track progress? If you don’t know where you’re at, how do you know where you’re going and how will you know if you get there? You can take all the digital notes you want, but do you reference them, do you remember why you wrote them? As simple as it sounds, nothing beats what happens when you put pen to paper. Keeping a journal is a great way to track personal progress. I know it sounds old-fashioned and I am not saying to start every entry with “Dear Diary.” Call it what you will, but writing will move you forward! A few years back I was challenged by a friend to start a journal, it took me a few months but I eventually came around and now I have refined the process to where it helps me every day. After our family’s recent move to Detroit, I realized that in all the transition I hadn’t journaled in 2 months, I had been expediting that part of my morning routine and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t as healthy in my thoughts or emotions. Needless to say, I got restarted writing on February 2nd, Day 33 of 2018, which just so happened to be groundhog day. Right back at it, like I never stopped. I was thumbing back through my journal last week and saw several great things. I recognized that our kids are doing what and being who we set out for them this year. I realized my actions are aligning with my words. I see healthy culture in our house. I also noticed that I am unintentionally writing more about my family and less about my accomplishments. There is nothing magical about keeping a journal, it is about being diligent enough to start and consistent enough to keep going. If you can be these two things you will see improvement in your life. A journal is simple, you can write about anything you want. There might be questions that you already ask yourself every day like, “why do I always do that?” have you ever answered that question? Ever wrote the answer down so it doesn’t reoccur next week? Start doing that today! Here are the two things I Write about Every day: Yesterday and Today. Writing about yesterday helps me reflect on life. Writing about today helps me recognize where I can win. YESTERDAY: REFLECT What Energized Me? What Wounded Me? Where Did I Get It Right? What Would I Do Differently? Answering these four questions helps me see where my heart is, what I really think is important, and ultimately helps me know if I am being who I need to be. TODAY: RECOGNIZE What Did I Read? (what stood out in my quiet time) Where Can I Win? (check the calendar, talk with wife, identify to who’s & to do’s, adjust or create a plan for the day.) What Are My Concerns? (put my self-talk on paper) Altogether my journal takes less than 10 minutes and less than one page per day. I used to write about several other things and answer other questions but I realized they were only distractions. When you start journaling you will likely see the same trend. Never write just to write, if the topic or question doesn’t need to be there, stop answering it. if the question only creates negative feedback and undue stress, eliminate it. WHAT TO DO? Once a week take a look back through what you have written. Relive the moments and memories you made, see where you got it right as a husband, dad, and leader. Doing this will allow you to see what you missed, and will help you see the areas you need to correct, which allows you to make an action plan for the next week. A goal without a plan is only a dream and dreams with distractions only die. You might be dealing with a blank slate right now, great! You might have so much going on that you don’t know which way is up, either way, it’s all good. Today is a great day to start writing and tracking progress, otherwise on day 365 how will you know if you did what you set out to do? Write. It. Down.