It’s been nearly 10 years since I started my company. Like every entrepreneur, growing a company was no small feat, with sleepless nights, unexpected challenges and looming deadlines. It’s also been 10 years since I committed to keeping a daily journal. While the stress that comes with owning and running my own company will never go away, I’ve found the simple act of journaling has made me a better entrepreneur.
Here are 5 ways journaling has helped me over the past decade and reasons you might want to try it:
- Journaling helps me maintain my health: Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, an expert in elite identity constructs, explains “Given the extraordinary impact entrepreneurs have on our world economy, it’s critically important they operate in a state of optimum emotional and relational health. Unfortunately, in our current zeitgeist of founder burnout as a benchmark of entrepreneurial excellence, such has not been the case.” While the startup community undergoes a mental health crisis, research shows that start-up founders are twice as likely to struggle with depression and six times more likely to suffer from ADHD. Mental health experts and countless studies suggest journaling can help battle depression, improve mental health and even show physical health benefits.
- Journaling gives me time to slow down: French philosopher Blaise Pascal pointed out that “all problems come from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” When you make a point to sit down alone, reflect on the day and slow your mind, you create space for better thinking, creativity and problem-solving – some of the most valuable assets for entrepreneurs.
- Journaling offers a safe place: Many entrepreneurs undergo what’s called “impression management” or the idea they must appear weakness-free. According to executive coach and therapist Megan Bruneau “Many entrepreneurs believe that, in order to be considered competent by stakeholders, we need to be perceived as infallible…This perpetuates shame and disconnection (which both cause depression).” A journal is a safe place where you come to grips with reality. No judgements, no sharing, no “likes” – just a solitary room where the greatest fears and worst case scenarios can play out.
- Journaling gives me a sense of self beyond my business: Entrepreneurs are known to literally lose themselves in the creation of their business. We look in the mirror and only see “founder.” On top of that, what happens when you have a bad quarter? A bad year? Use a journal to reflect on what makes you you, and know that those strengths (and weaknesses) can power you through any pursuit.
- Journaling boosts my overall happiness: For renowned author and executive coach Robin Sharma, “keeping a journal not only changed my life – it saved it.” Sharma used a journal to power through some of his hardest times in life and focus on positivity. Now, he’s a true advocate for journaling, as he notes its ability to boost mental health, self-confidence and – levels of happiness. Your journal can be a place to vent about frustrations, but it should also be a place to celebrate “small wins,” iterate positive affirmations and express gratitude, all of which are known to produce dopamine and make us happier!
How to get started:
- Set an appointment: Set a daily reminder on your calendar and safeguard that time.
- Set a timer: Start with just 10 minutes a day. Even if you don’t write anything down, those 10 minutes of quiet reflection will do you some good.
- Use prompts: If you’re at a loss for what to write, start with a few prompts. Perhaps you have a specific area within your career that you’d like to focus on. Leadership consultant Nancy Adler has a list of “trigger questions” for executives she recommends, like “How am I feeling right now?,” “What deserves my highest quality attention?” and “What contributed most to my happiness (or to the happiness of my people) this week?”.
- Get your hands on a journal: Some prefer to write by hand, others look to mobile apps. The point is to use what works for you.
Whether it’s a daily ritual or once a week, keeping a journal will exercise the mind in a new way, create a space for reality and improve overall happiness. Journaling is a way to not only appreciate your true self, but to put your title aside and recognize those strengths that will set you apart. Plus, you’ll have a written record of the ideas, struggles, triumphs and happenings during the crazy ride we call “entrepreneurship.”
About the Author, Paul Mayne, CEO of Day One Journal
Paul Mayne is the founder and CEO of the award-winning Day One Journal app. As an avid journal-keeper and tech developer, he created the app as a father of four looking for a simpler way to immediately capture memories with his kids. Since then, the app has grown to 10 million downloads, 1 billion entries and 150,000 5-star reviews globally. For the past decade, Paul has kept a consistent digital journal and is a passionate advocate for journal keeping.