We’ve all heard the benefits of journaling:
It helps you be more mindful of who you are, making you more self-aware. By being more self-aware, you make better-informed decisions. Moreover, you become more productive, because, after all:
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker
Convinced you should journal now?
I’d be tempted. The truth is, I journal almost every day. And it does give me clarity on many aspects of my life. But here’s where it falls short for me: it adds me too many options.
Who the heck complains about having too many options?
Most people struggle to find one good option for them, why should I complain about having too many?
Okay, let’s first start by saying that multiple options are always better than one or no options at all. But! There is such a thing as an overload of information.
Having too much of something — of anything — leads to panic or fear. We fear we may not make the right decision. When you figure out 20 good solutions to one problem, which one do you pick?
There are at least two types of people here:
- The person who will not make a decision because it’s too difficult; and
- The person who will implement many of the solutions and hope one sticks.
As a self-diagnosed adult hyperactive, I’m in camp #2. Most people are in camp #1. But to both camps, having too many options is not a good thing.
Fear of making a bad decision is real. We all feel it to some degree. We fear it because we lose something for not picking the “right” choice. We lose time, money, relationships, etc. Anything we care about, we can lose by not picking the right option.
Now, isn’t it true that if you’re not aware of the options, you can’t fear them?
You can’t be afraid of a lion if you don’t know what a lion is.
So, should I remain “ignorant” and simply not journal?
Was everyone wrong about journaling being the panacea to self-awareness and productivity?
Not necessarily. If you’re in either camp #1 or camp #2, I’ve got a skill for you to learn, and it’s a skill that will be most impactful for the rest of your life: Decision Making.
How many decisions do you make every day? Even the most mundane ones?
I was just brainstorming that in my head and came up with about 50 without even trying. And are all the decisions we make optimal? A lot of them are out of habit. Most people don’t wake up at their optimal times. Most people just set an alarm to sleep for 8 hours. But is that really your optimal sleep time?
When I was sleeping 8 hours, I was always waking up in deep sleep, always feeling tired when my alarm went off. But common wisdom tells you that’s what you should do so you do it.
That’s not a decision you really took.
The moment you master the art of Decision Making, that’s when journaling can become a powerful tool for you. But don’t get stuck up on the word “master” here. You won’t master it unless you practice it. Remember:
“Practice makes perfect.”
So the next time you journal, be aware of your fears. If you are presented with many good options, realize that they are exactly that: good. You’ll never know which one is the best until you try them all, which you never will because no one has time for that. So pick one that seems sound. Trust your gut instinct. You might be surprised how good it can be sometimes.
“Just do it.”
Accept that your decision is a good one and carry on with it. If it turns out that it’s not as good as anticipated, well, good for you, you’ve got many more. If circumstances didn’t change too much, simply pick another one. Don’t be like me and try to do everything all at once, that doesn’t scale in the long run.
So yes, journaling can suck. Like anything, it’s not perfect.
While it does help you be more self-aware, it can also lead to anxiety. Recognize it for its benefits but never take it too seriously that you can’t make “good” decisions anymore because of it. However, once you learn the skill of Decision Making, this can turn into a very powerful tool in your arsenal for accomplishing more than you ever thought you could.
So go ahead and learn it, then make journaling work for you!
You can do this!
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