How many times do you feel like just a little edge could go a long way? If you could increase your performance, knowledge or attitude a little bit then it would carry over into all your other activities for the day? Well there’s an easy way to get that edge; start writing things down.
I’m not talking about being a compulsive note taker or documenting every feeling you have in a diary. I am talking about a minimal investment in yourself and possibly a notepad. It will polish your thoughts and give you that extra edge you’re looking for.
Here are 5 reasons why writing things down will improve your life:
The wonderful thing about words is that they are definite. They are used to help us understand and remember. Without them things can get fuzzy. Let me use an analogy: have you ever pulled up Google maps and tried to scroll across to your destination, but the map didn’t load fast enough and was blurry? Well that is how we think in raw form. We have the general idea and direction, but can’t find exactly where we want to be until we add definition. Words provide that definition for our thoughts. They help us organize, understand, and be specific.
2. End your fear
As people, most of what we fear consists of what we don’t understand. When you force yourself to define your fears by writing them down, you will find most of them irrational or easier than you thought to overcome. You can then make a conscious decision to stop being plagued by whatever it is that’s bothering you. Don’t believe me? Try it. Unless you’re too afraid…
3. Problem Solving
Writing down your problems, whether work or personal, is great because it forces you to define (do you see a trend?) what exactly is problematic. Once you know what’s wrong, you can devise, and write down, steps to fix it.
This is pretty much the same way the shop fixes your car right? They do a diagnostic so they know what to fix instead of just tightening bolts and changing fluids until the problem goes away. Obviously we would think that the latter of those solutions is a big waste of time, and at the cost of labor in mechanic shops, and even bigger waste of money. The same is true for your own problems, whether work, personal, whatever. First figure out what’s not going the way you want and then you can start to fix it.
I recently heard a statistic that only 3% of adults have written goals. Holy crap! No wonder so many claim to be unhappy. They haven’t taken the time do define what WILL make them happy!
Think back to the fuzzy Google map. Not writing down your goals is worse than having a fuzzy map. It’s like having no map at all. If you take out a pristine piece of plain white paper to use as your map and start driving expecting to end up somewhere awesome, you’re crazy. If you don’t write down your goals and track progress yet expect to reach high levels of achievement, just as crazy.
If you’re in high school, use this opportunity to get ahead of the curve. If you’re in college, I hate to tell you this but you are now an adult. Depressing, I know. Now go write down your goals, you’ll thank me later.
5. Stress relief
Writing can be a form of venting just like exercise, breaking valuable things, or screaming when you’re all alone in the car (don’t act like you haven’t done it, or at least wanted to). A big part of this is defining what’s troubling you, which also gives you means to start developing practical solutions. Of course, sometimes there’s no replacement for just screaming in the car :P
This list also comes with a WARNING: Avoid the what happens in the first minute of THIS CLIP
If you physically write things down instead of on a digital device, beware of clutter! I know a few people, who shall remain nameless, whose written clutter is probably worse than their mental clutter would have been had they not written anything down at all. Do not be afraid to recycle things or throw them away. If you write down an idea that’s really good, then act on it and you won’t have to keep it around! If you write down an idea that sucks, which will happen, then you shouldn’t want to keep it around anyway.
Image by Jeroen van Oostrom