The benefits of frequent journaling
Without hesitation, daily journaling is my go-to self-improvement recommendation.
I define journaling as a solo dialogue where you deliberately ask and answer questions.
What does that look like?
Tony Robbins is credited with saying that “the quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.”
Journaling with quality questions will uncover good ideas and expose areas for improvement.
Here’s an example:
While this can be useful on any interval (quarterly, for example), my core argument is that journaling frequency makes all of the difference.
Frequent journaling magnifies your ability to capture the benefit of asking good questions by taking advantage of two of my favorite concepts: iteration and compound interest.
Consider two podcasters: one who makes 100 episodes in a year and one who spends the whole year on one ‘perfect’ episode.
This is how they did:
The iterator’s progress far outpaced the perfectionist. Through trial and error, the iterator continually improved their podcast, week after week.
Each episode exposed some area of improvement, and after 100 episodes, the iterator produced a wildly better product than the perfectionist.
We can model this same thinking to our journals.
If you go through my 3 questions on December 31st, you’ll probably have a really productive new years day — Congrats!
Then what? A few weeks into the year, you’d have integrated the new ideas as habits and begin to plateau. Newton’s Law of Cooling takes over.
If you went through my 3 questions every month, you’d have fantastic single-digit days, but by the time the tens came around, you’d be standing still yet again.
You can probably see where this is going, but I thought a chart would help.
If you assume every journal entry reveals an opportunity to improve by 1%, the outcomes look like this:
- Monthly journaling: 1.13x better at the end of the year. (1.01¹²)
- Weekly journaling: 1.68x better at the end of the year. (1.0⁵²)
- Daily-ish journaling: 7.96x better at the end of the year. (1.01²⁶²)
- Daily journaling: 37.78x better at the end of the year. (1.01³⁶⁰)
The chart is oversimplified, but the principle should be apparent: frequent journaling wins, and the disparity comes from compounding.
Integrating each new 1% improvement isn’t addition, it’s multiplication.
Each 1% improvement capitalizes on all of the accumulated preceding improvements, hence the compounding returns and exponential growth. We are borrowing awesomeness.
At the end of the year, the daily journal looks like Shaq compared to the competition.
Just Get Started 🏀
I hope this illustration helps get the ball rolling for your journaling practice.
I encourage you to ask good questions, implement your answers, and repeat often!