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Focus on Action Daily Journal Format

Photo of Evernote Entries

Photo of Evernote Entries

As a regular listener to Tim Ferriss’s podcasts, I’ve heard him talk about journaling. I’ve been interested in journals since I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He used his journals to consider nature and life through the writing process.
Ferriss recommended the Five Minute Journal, so I ordered a copy. When I finished it (in about seven months), I had to decide whether to order another copy. My preference lately has been to minimize ink-on-paper when Dropbox is more accessible from my iPhone and iPad. So, I decided to create my own journal format in Evernote.
This post contains my current journal format. It’s current because I tweak the format and approach to topics almost every time I update my journal. Because how I write about a topic changes with what I think is important I overwrite the previous entry on a topic from day-to-day. The entries tend to develop over several days’ of revisions until I don’t have anything more to write, then I may change the topics.
Here are the current headings in my journal with notes in italics.
__End the Day__
Three positive actions:

At the end of the day or the first thing the next day, I write three short bullets about what I did that day consistent with what I’ trying to do with my life.

What could I have done?
This tends to be variations on a theme that develops over time, rather than specific undone tasks. For example, a recent theme has been; Produce more. Consume less.
Edit & Write 250 words (yesterday): __000__
Simple, how many words did I write yesterday. My goal is low; and I’m disappointed how often I fail.
Sober today for: 000 days
I’ve mentioned the number of days on Twitter (@charlieahern) and Facebook (Charlie Ahern). People reply with “one day at a time” encouragements. I’m not a member of AA and don’t consider myself a serious alcoholic (quitting has seemed too easy). One day I woke up with a hangover and regrets from the night before, and then decided to stop drinking alcohol.
Is there something that you’d like to do or not do over a long period of time. Counting the days may help you be more aware your string of successes. If you lapse, don’t give up simply re-start the count.
__Start the Day__
Moon: phase, 00% visible
Temp: 00° -> 00°
I’m trying to pay more attention to the changing seasons. For example, this spring at sunrise we’ve had a murmur of starlings looping around our apartment. Of course, I did have to find out what “waxing gibbous” meant.
Thank You note to:
The “You” is usually someone I may seldom or never meet, but who deserves some thanks. This is a new daily practice that’s not as easy as you may think. It takes some time to identify someone and write a note that has some meaning.
Positive statement:
Some simple statement about what is or would be a good thing. No, this is not an “affirmation” about how I’m becoming more perfect every day.
Three things to be grateful for:
I refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to prompt ideas. Some days I’m just grateful that I have relatively clean water to drink.
My aspiration (write about possible future):
This tends to be a big picture, though specific, goal. What do I aspire to do? Note that this is not a mission statement that goes on the shelf and remains forgotten. I read and revise it whenever I journal.
BIG Goals for 2016
What big stuff do I want to do this year that will take some action? I have three goals.
Three BIG Goal Actions for today:
For each of the BIG Goals, what will I do today to move the ball forward? Each action should be worth doing on its own, because if I don’t hit the goal at least playing the game will be fun.

Read This Book – The How of Happiness


Mississippi River, Savanna, IL

“Only about 10 percent of the variance in our happiness levels is explained by differences in life circumstances or situations — that is , whether we are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, married or divorced, etc.” from The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

The How of Happiness –

A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want

by Sonja Lyubomirsky


Borrow it, buy it, or I will give it to you.

  • Your local library probably has a copy on the shelf.
  • Today, Amazon will sell you the trade paperback edition for $11.53.
  • I will buy a copy for the first twenty people who ask for a copy and agree to write a brief comment (positive or negative) about the book.

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