Weekly Journaling and Beyond!
Episode #10 of the course A daily journal practice to become a better person every day by John Robin
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” —Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Welcome to Lesson 10, the end of our course—but the beginning of a journey for you that will last a lifetime.
Let’s close up today by seeing how the daily journal process can extend beyond just day to day. Get ready to take notes as we lay out the big picture road map of where this is all going.
The Template of the Week
We live within two types of cycles:
• the circadian, or daily, cycle, built into our biology
• the weekly cycle, conditioned by society
We have focused so far on the daily cycle. How, then, do we reflect on time intervals larger than the day?
The week is the most practical because like the day, we can always count on its cycle repeating. We all know what it feels like for Sunday night to come, then Monday morning to start, or to be in the midweek slump, looking forward to Friday.
The week is, therefore, the next best level to journal at.
Your weekly journal page: Pick a day of the week to do your weekly reflection. I like to pick Saturday.
Now, when that day comes, skip a page in your journal. This skipped page is what you’ll fill in to reflect on the week:
• Examine the last seven days of the week for your top five items of gratitude.
• Do the same to identify your top five struggles.
• Set five intentions for the coming week.
Having this weekly reflection gives you more octane now in the coming seven days of the week because when you do your end-of-day reflection, you can flip to the week’s five intentions and see if any of them inspire you in setting your three intentions for tomorrow.
For example, if your office is a mess and it’s stressing you out, you might have made decluttering the office an intention for the week. If it’s Thursday night and it’s still not done, then you might set an intention for tomorrow: “Tackle the office—just DO IT.”
You can rise above the week by batching your weeks into seven-week seasons.
There are seven days in the week. Each day is the completion of one circadian rhythm, which is built into our biology. Each week is the completion of a social rhythm, ingrained in our psychology.
When you train yourself to reflect on time in seasons of seven weeks, you are effectively extrapolating this familiar social rhythm. Each week becomes a “day” in this larger analogy.
Learning to think about time this way gives you more control over it. Instead of hoping that this year, your life might get better, you can ask how, during this season of seven weeks, your weekly goals are evolving.
Your seasonal journal page: Skip two full pages for the seasonal reflection, since there are more points to cover:
• Examine the weekly reflections for the last seven weeks of the season, and write down your top seven items of gratitude.
• Do the same for struggles.
• Set seven intentions for the coming season.
This will compound with both the weekly reflection pages and your day-to-day.
For example, if one intention for the season was, “Keep up fasting after 7 pm,” this might serve as a prompt each week to strategize how you plan your evenings. Like visualization for each day, it primes your subconscious through the days and weeks to be aligned with the highest, most important goals.
Annual Reflection—and Beyond!
There’s another reason that a season of seven weeks is a good unit of time:
There are seven seasons that fit into a year:
• Seven seasons = 7 x 7 weeks = 49 weeks
I always start my first season on the first Sunday in January. This means by the first week of December, when I hit 49 weeks, I can treat the remaining three weeks as a holiday and do an annual reflection.
The annual reflection is just like the weekly and seasonal, except instead I skip four pages for it and cover twelve points of gratitude, struggle, and intention. I also add a whole page of review at the start, based on assessing the previous year’s intentions.
Now, when you set intentions for the New Year, these aren’t just resolutions. They are intentions that you can now draw on every season when you reflect.
Just like how seasonal and weekly intentions prime your subconscious day to day, annual intentions prime you for the 365 days of the year to come.
One of my intentions for this year, for example, was, “Explore Highbrow opportunity.” That aim has driven me like a whip all year. I started 2019 with seven courses and a proposed eighth in the works, which turned into “Mental Models: How to Make Better Decisions.” Here I am at a 14th and the year is still not over!
That’s a wrap! Congratulations on finishing the course!
Your homework is to take notes and instill this habit of weekly, seasonal, and annual reflection.
This course was meant as a guide to help you begin a deep habit, but of course, every person will have a unique journey with journaling. I love hearing from my students, especially on life habits, so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, would like to discuss your own journal plan, or just pick my brain. Believe it or not, this course was a light distillation of what I could easily write ten more courses on, so I hope I’ve done it justice!
Recommended Highbrow course follow-up
“Mental Models: How to Make Better Decisions” by John Robin
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