Journaling Through Difficult Times-Get Your Free Downloadable Journal Now

journaling

You may be in one of these groups: a committed journaler, a dabbler (one who occasionally or sporadically journals), one who has sworn off such pursuits, or open to ideas about using a tool that is amazingly flexible.

Regardless of whether you can identify with one of those, or are in another place, I invite you now to seriously consider  journaling at this particular time in our lives. It can have immediate benefits like giving you more clarity as you reflect. It can also be therapeutic. Particularly in this quickly changing times, our heads are filled with so many thoughts, questions and feelings. Taking a little time to sit down and reflect on all that can be extremely helpful.

Many, if not all of us have elevated stress and anxiety as we try to figure out the logistics of the reality we have been forced into. Writing in a journal will help us figure out what some specific stressors are, what triggers the anxiety and think about how we can reduce and share them. We can also use a journal to consciously list what we are grateful for in the midst of all this.

Beyond these immediate benefits, our journals will be a great treasure as we look back years from now at our personal thoughts and experiences. These will also provide a window into what we went through for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in future years.

Will you join me in journaling from your personal viewpoint what this CoVid-19 virus pandemic means to you, how it is affecting your life, what thoughts you have? 

In a matter of a few weeks, our whole country and our individual lives have changed. How did the changes evolve for you? Starting now, we can look back on the last weeks and record how the reality began to enter into our consciousness and how it grew. We can reflect on how we perceived the process from that point to now. And from this point forward, we can record daily or near-daily experiences and reflections. At this point, we have no idea how long this will last and how things will change.

To facilitate this, I offer you a free downloadable and printable journal. You can print additional pages as you wish. I also invite you to join this Facebook Group:  http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-a-Tool-For-Life

In the journal, I provide some questions/prompts that can help you zero in on your experiences and questions.  So that it is most flexible, those questions/prompts will be in list form and you can write about whichever seems most useful on any given day. Or perhaps you just want to do daily reflections as you go along.

In the Facebook group, I hope that we can share some of what we are writing, inspire others to explore in additional ways, and support each other.

Here’s your link to the direct download: http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

 

 

 

Journaling: Explore the Possibilities With My Free eCourse

prismAre you a journaling devotee, beginner, skeptic, or critic? Have you actually tried it or just been aware of it around you? What are your opinions about the practice?

I have come to see journaling something like a prism – a tool that can provide clarification by helping us focus on particular aspects of our lives. Depending on what we wish to look at, there are different styles and techniques to explore.

Journaling has been a way for people to express themselves for centuries. Its current popularity can be seen in a Google search for “journaling” that returned 47,300,000 results!! This clearly indicates that there a lot of people providing lots of information on this broad topic which has many subtopics and categories.

Perhaps you are wondering what all the fuss is about and would like an overview to see what the possibilities are for you. Or perhaps you have journaled and are interested in expanding your view of the varieties of journaling.

I invite you to sign up for my brand new free ecourse, “Journaling: a Prism to Clarify and Enhance All Aspects of Life.”  It is an overview that can give you some new options for using journaling. It includes some free sample journals to try.

Go here to sign up and you will receive it via email in 7 parts over 14 days. You will also have access to a Facebook group on the topic. http://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-prism-to-clarify-and-enhance-life/

Your first lesson will be available immediately upon signing up.

(I previously wrote about 4 major purposes to journal here: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-as-a-tool/  I talked about personal growth, self-discovery, gathering ideas and brainstorming solutions, and capturing life experiences. Journaling provides a great tool for these things.)

Do You Want To Be a Super Learner?

lifelong learningWe all agree that things continue to change, and it seems at an accelerating pace. Keeping up with it all can be a challenge. Whether technology changes, health and wellness advice, the businesses and shops within our local area, or any number of additional things, new things are available to us all the time.

Sometimes it’s just so much, and we hear those voices saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ But those are old tapes and they do us a disservice. In fact, some of the new things available to us are insights about and approaches to our lifelong ability to learn and grow. At every stage of life, we make choices about what is worth our time learning, based on what will benefit or enrich us most.

No, at this age I’m not interested in learning to skateboard or do mathematical calculations. There are other things that I am simply interested in learning about or learning to do and if I prioritize them and figure out how, I can learn them. Is that how you approach learning new things?

Thomas Oppong wrote an extremely helpful article, “6 Habits of Super Learners, Learn Any Skill Deeply and Quickly.” I think you may find them interesting.

Oppong’s first habit: super learners read a lot. He says, “In a world where information is the new currency, reading is the best source of continuous learning, knowledge and acquiring more of that currency.” As an avid reader, I am delighted to see this as number one.  The hard part of this – the overwhelming amount of new information available every day. That’s why it’s helpful to be connected with networks and individuals who offer some recommendations that are pertinent to us. It may be an online group or website or people who share your values and interests. Where do you find that input?

Adopting a growth mindset is another of Oppong’s habits.  A growth mindset is the opposite of a fixed mindset and it allows us to be open, curious and always ready to learn. This is especially important as we age. It can be too easy to slip into a pattern of assessing possibilities in the framework of our past rather than future opportunities of thought and action. Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, the New Psychology of Success, provides much valuable information about how we can have a growth mindset.  Importantly, her approach is broad. When she speaks of success, it is in any part or endeavor of life.

The final tip I will share from the article is that super learners teach others what they know. As the author states, “Teaching others what you know is one of the most effective ways to learn, remember and recall new information. Psychologists call it the ‘retrieval practice.’” I expect that many of us have had that experience, formally or informally. It is a process of both deepening our understanding and putting it into action.

Increasing our super learning habits and skills can pay off in many ways.  How about starting with deciding what you would like to learn and determine what you need to be and do to make that a reality?

3-Part Bucket List & JournalPerhaps you are not sure what you want to learn right now.  Here’s a way to get started – a 3-Part Bucket List and Journal. With this 3-Part Bucket List, you will divide your desires into three main categories: 1) things I want to learn about, 2) things I want to learn to do, and 3) things I want to do. In addition there are goal setting/planning sheets, journaling pages and doodling/sketching/mind mapping pages.

3-Part Bucket List & Journal

 

You can find Oppong’s full article at https://medium.com/personal-growth/6-habits-of-super-learners-63d466a254fd

In addition, he has a variety of books on Amazon, which you can find here:  https://amzn.to/39szzf7

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck is available here: https://amzn.to/32H90A2

Tips For Reinvention From an Unusual Source

footprints

 

Reinventing or transforming life after age 50 is one of my passions.  I gained a helpful perspective from  an article written by one who has reinvented himself many times to the extreme. Reading about the range of major reinventions this author has made encourages me to think bigger about the possibilities for myself and others.  Jack Barsky has made transformations that very few make – or would want to make. But the principles are interesting.

You may have seen Barsky on 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox, or MSNBC or read his book, Deep Undercover. Barsky was born in Germany, was a chemistry professor for years, was recruited by the KGB, spent 10 years in the United States spying for the Russians during the Cold War, and ended up a United States citizen and information technology executive.

Based on the major shifts as well as a number of fictional characters he became in his travels, Barsky offers 9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention – behaviors we might adopt as we are reinventing ourselves at any stage of life.

Two that stand out for me are Take a Self Inventory and Work on Your Soft Skills.  Barsky’s recommended Self Inventory is to focus on talents and abilities you have, regardless of whether or not you have ever used them to earn a living. Often we fail to recognize the skills and abilities we have developed and used in volunteer work and other activities. These may be transferable or adaptable to various other settings.

Take 15 minutes or so to write down the things you have done outside your major work experience – side jobs, volunteer work, hobbies. Then list what you did and learned in them. You may be astounded at your list.

Working on Your Soft Skills is a logical next step to the Self Inventory.  Soft skills are defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” The list of soft skills can vary; here is a representative one: effective communication skills, teamwork, dependability, adaptability, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership, problem-solving, research, creativity, work ethic, integrity. We can demonstrate and develop these skills in all aspects of our lives. Take one of these and think of the ways you demonstrate it in work settings, volunteer work, family, friendship circles, etc. This exercise may broaden your perspective of skills you have and want to expand as well as ways to apply them in new ways as you reinvent your life.

Barsky wraps up his nine tips by stating “power is having options.”  This really summarizes his message: “Fulfillment … requires an attitude of life-long learning and a willingness to periodically shed the old skin and step into a new self.”

You can read the entire article here:

9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention

NOTE: You may find Barsky’s book Deep Uncover interesting. An Amazon review describes it this way: “Equal parts memoir, spycraft guide, and historical document, Deep Undercover perfectly describes the crippling insularity of the spy’s life.”  If you are interested in his book, you can find it here:

Deep Undercover

 

What is Holding You Back From Retiring When You Feel Ready?

blocks

Suppose you are eligible to retire from your job – you are eligible for Social Security payments and have worked enough years to qualify for a good pension (if there is one with your employment). Financially, you could do it. And yet you don’t. Can you identify what is holding you back?

I recently had a conversation with someone in that precise situation. As we talked, she was able to identify several things that were keeping her from doing what she was in some ways quite ready to do – retire.

Blocks to Making the Move to Retirement

One factor was concern that she wouldn’t be contributing to the betterment of society anymore. Her career had focused on things that made a difference and she wanted to continue to do that in the coming years. Would she settle into a lifestyle that was narrower and not connected to the needs and issues?

A somewhat connected thought was that despite all she has done in a 40-year career, she hadn’t done enough in that area of interest. Should she stay and do more?

Then there was a practical thing: with workdays of 8 or more hours and a commute of an hour each way, all her focus had been on that job. She didn’t quite know how to shift focus and find new outlets for her commitment and energy.

The prospect of losing the relationships related to the job was another pull to continue working. Retirement inevitably changes or severs relationships with people with whom we have worked. In this case, they have been significant and in fact the majority of her personal relationships.

A final item was facing the overwhelming job of leaving records and the office in condition for someone to easily step in and do the work. There seems to be no time in the current pace of the job to get this done. Ultimately it became another reason to postpone retirement.

Can you relate to any of these as reasons you are putting off retirement, what is holding you back? Can you identify others?

As we talked, we identified some steps to take. Perhaps these could help you take some steps toward the goal of retirement on terms that are satisfying to you.

Steps to Removing Blocks

First, take inventory of the things you have accomplished and been involved in during your years of active employment. Write them down, think about the impacts and celebrate them. It is easy to lose track of all we have done after a long career and valuable to look back at them.

Second, look again at this list and consider what possibilities for post-retirement activity come to mind. How could your career be a launching pad for the next phase of your contribution? Perhaps there is something that you enjoyed and excelled at 20 years ago. What related things could you do? Could you take something to another level through volunteer work or even part time work in some organization? Do some creative brainstorming of ideas.

Third, take concrete steps to explore new opportunities. If it is difficult to fit into your current schedule, explore ways to carve out time to totally focus on the things you want to check out. It could mean using a day a week of your vacation time for a few weeks, or a day every other week, or even one full day to get started. Decide ahead of time what you will do with this time that will provide information you need about future possibilities.

Fourth, as you are looking at these options, look for people to build relationships with in these new organizations or groups. Even if you don’t ultimately go in some of the directions you are checking out, you may find people to connect with in various ways.

Fifth, create a plan for leaving your files, records and workplace in a condition that you will be proud of. This can apply to anything you consider unfinished in your current position. List the major components and then make a general timeline. Start chipping away by making a list of tasks divided by an estimated time each will take: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, etc. Start doing them as you have snippets and blocks of time on a weekly basis. Post that list where you see it continually and will be reminded that you can indeed achieve your overall goal a bit at a time.

Here’s a free worksheet based on the steps above. You will be able to download and print it directly from this link.  WORKSHEET for Clearing Out Blocks

Does Perfection Slow Down Accomplishment?

As I look at the early framework of my business plans for the 3rd quarter of the year, it looks exciting. When I look at the individual projects on that list and what it will take to get them done in a high quality way (perfection), I am overwhelmed! Am I crazy to think I can really do all of that and do it well, along with the rest of my life? Is accomplishment of all this possible?

Then the gift came. A Facebook friend and mentor posted a link to an article: “It’s Never Going to Be Perfect, So Just Get It Done” by Tim Herrera. I read it and feel more hopeful and confident that with this approach I can accomplish a great deal.

Of course, it’s one thing to read an article and quite another to incorporate what you read into daily thoughts and actions. This article provided some clear concepts that I can remember (probably assisted by posting them by my desk as reminders).

Tools That Move Us Forward

Herrera writes of the M.F.D. – Mostly Fine Decision which he describes as the “minimum outcome you’re willing to accept.” He notes that the approach assists us with making decisions and getting things done – and that people who practice this are generally more satisfied with their accomplishments.

Sounds appealing to me! However, how does that happen? Thankfully Herrara offers two strategies to help: the “magic of micro-progress” and “reframe how you think about things you have to do”:

“First, embrace the magic of micro-progress: Rather than looking at tasks, projects or decisions as items that must be completed, slice them into the smallest possible units of progress, then knock them out one at a time. …

“Second, reframe the way you think about the things you have to do. Focus far less on the end result, and far more on the process — this allows you to be aware of the progress you’re making, rather than obsessing over the end result of that progress.”

Although there’s still a thread of perfectionism in me, I am more and more convinced that this kind of approach is a good one. One verification of this came when I realized how quickly I consume articles, books, training, and other things. I am not looking for every detail to be exquisite – I want the main points, I want clarity, I want to be able to follow the thoughts and I want to be able to implement it if that is appropriate.

As I tack up the reminders (M.F.D., Micro-Progress, Focus on the Process More Than the End Result) near my desk, I note that this can work only if I have done the detailed planning first. I need to make sure I have goals broken down into projects into tasks, etc., for this to work. So I will tackle that first for my current top priorities.

I invite you to check out the entire article and see if the approach will work for you and your life!

 

I Celebrate Books for Opening Vistas

Reading Journal Cover

(Get your Reading Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Reading Journal for Book Lovers)

I LOVE to read! Do you? Reading has always been a favorite pastime for me. As a child, I attended a rural one-room school and we had one large bookcase of books to read. What I remember best is reading each of the biographies – a series of books with orange covers. The stories of people in different situations and historical periods fascinated me. We also used the library in our nearby small town and I recall checking out books including Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and earlier the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series. Do any of those ring a bell with you?

As I moved into high school and even more so in college and young adulthood, I read non-fiction almost exclusively. Books about current events, theology and history primarily. My interests went in those directions because I moved from living in small town/rural in southern Wisconsin into inner city communities in Chicago and Minneapolis – in the mid-1960s and beyond. With the great societal change occurring during those years, there was so much to learn about. My deep involvement in an inner city church and related social justice efforts led me to reading theology books. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I began regularly reading fiction, especially historical fiction, along with an expanded variety of nonfiction books. I wish that I had written down what books I read over the years, but I didn’t. I do know that the reading I did shaped my understanding and the directions I went in my life in dramatic ways.

Have you kept lists? What kind of patterns, if any, do you see in your reading habits over the years? Can you see significance in those patterns?

Since finding Goodreads.com a few years ago, I have used it as an easy tool for recording the books I am reading. Using their Reading Challenge to set a goal for number of books I will read in a year has been both fun and motivating. Having access to reviews, ratings, suggestions a way to keep track of books I want to read is wonderful.

I still had a desire for a book in my hands where I can record other things. I wanted to identify books both that I have read and want to read by genre. And I wished to have in one volume notes, quotes and reflections on some books I especially value. This could be a reference and a treasure for me in the future.

So I designed a reading journal that met those criteria! If you see a value in such a tool and treasure, I invite you to check out my newly published Reading Journal – For Book Lovers Who Take Their Reading Seriously.
The link will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more and preview the journal.  It is a handy, portable 6″ x 9″ size.Reading Journal Cover

Happy Reading!!

Journaling as a Tool to Create the Life You Want

journal writingYou may love your life overall; you may love parts of it, but one or more parts may be frustrating or unfulfilling or disastrous. Regardless of your situation, journaling can be a powerful tool.

If you love your life overall, journaling about it will allow you to appreciate it even more and have that record for yourself. As you increase your appreciation and gratitude, it radiates out to others to inspire and uplift them. Your journaled words can be something for you to read again in times of stress or unhappiness. They will remind you of what is possible and help you move forward.

If there are parts of your life that just aren’t what you want them to be, consider journaling to assist you in sorting out the issues and options. Journaling draws out things of which you were not even aware. It can be almost magical.
There are a variety of purposes for journaling, and often they mingle together as you write. Here are a few purposes and how they can be of benefit.

Journal for Personal Growth

Often the beginning point of this kind of journaling is to really articulate your situation – what you appreciate and what you struggle with. Getting it out on paper can clarify the muddle that you may be experiencing.
As you lay out those things, you begin to realize what it is you want to be different and in exactly what ways. You are creating a vision for the future and you can take steps toward it.

Journal for Self-Discovery          

Self-discovery is, of course, related to personal growth. As you journal you go beyond the particular issues with which you began and discover more about yourself. This can include going deeper from what you like and don’t like to what priorities and values lie beneath those preferences. It allows you to explore those values and additional ways you can live them out in your life. This can move you in new, exciting directions.

Journal to Gather Ideas and Brainstorm Solutions

Journaling is also a tool to use to gather ideas and put the best into action, and to brainstorm solutions to issues.  Gathering ideas is an ongoing, even daily activity that will pay big benefits. And when you encounter obstacles as you pursue what you want or you’ve faced a significant setback, journaling can provide clarity. Write down possible solutions from different perspectives without prejudging and you will see more possible alternatives. The sorting out is a next step. A simple journal like this can get you started: My Idea Journal   It is free to download and you can make as many copies of the journal pages as you choose.

Journal to Capture Your Life Experiences

An additional type of journaling focuses on capturing and reflecting on your life experiences. This may be a more occasional effort in which particular events, situations or turning points are the basis of your writing. These journals can be precious accounts of your life when you look back in later years.

Journaling can be done in many ways and used for a variety of purposes. Try out some of them and see what you learn about yourself, others, and the world around you.

Remember to check out the free My Idea Journal

Are You Feeling Stuck?

StuckAre you feeling stuck? Do you have intentions and just can’t seem to do what you know you need to do? I suspect most of us have, if we aren’t right now. Somehow the motivation and focus on those tasks isn’t there. At this time of the year, you may be running into this in relation to your new year’s resolutions or plans.

I am facing exactly that. It is easy to get into a downward spiral of feeling badly about myself when I continually fail to do what will lead me in my preferred direction. Some popular advice and counsel would be to exert will power: make myself do what I am not doing. Sometimes that works. Many times, however, it fails to have the desired effect. In fact, it makes it worse. Emma Brooke Gilding in an article entitled “Why Willpower Isn’t the Answer to Your Problems” says:

“I don’t believe in willpower. That sounds like a whole lot of effort and nonsense. Trying to cultivate a power which makes things easier is not easier. It’s harder. What I DO believe in, is the ability of every individual to achieve their goals with the right self-awareness and self-compassion.”

Perhaps your intentions are to let go of something or move onto something new or to heal from something. Or perhaps just leaving behind the disappointments, hurts and failures of the past and start anew. There are specific things you want to do, and yet you are not doing them.

Gilding suggests that means you and I are not ready to let go, move on or heal. Until we get are in touch with what that is about, progress is unlikely. What is holding us back isn’t a lack of willpower or discipline or laziness. It’s unfinished business.
Taking time to unearth what is holding us back may be the first and most important step if you and I are stuck in this way. We can then move forward and access the motivation, energy and focus that we desire.

Go to my earlier post on Looking Back and Moving Forward and scroll down to where you can request a free Year-End Review Journal. In the journal there are questions that will help identify areas for work.

Reduce Overwhelm Fog With 10 Minute Tasks

ListTo-do lists, planners, planning pages – hard copy or electronic – are tools we use to manage the many details of our lives. The more segments of our lives there are, the more things there are to remember and to do. Home, school, work, volunteer commitments, side business, personal care and development… and more. Sometimes it is all pretty overwhelming. All of these things cause us to experience overwhelm fog.

There are major projects and undertakings that we need to do over weeks or months as well as simple tasks that are urgent and lots in between. The major projects have many smaller parts and tasks that ideally will be spread over time to avoid last minute overload, panic and less-than-ideal quality. How do you deal with all of this?

Are you someone who adopted a system of keeping track of and accomplishing things years ago, found that it worked at least adequately and have continued to use it to the present time?

Are you someone who tries different approaches and systems as you hear about them and never settle on one consistent way to operate?

Are you someone who eschews systems and may make simple lists but not much more?

Are you someone who absolutely writes down everything that you want to do and has voluminous lists all the time?

Looking at options to manage the details of life can be very beneficial to our focus and ability to feel at least moderately in control and to have some peace as we move through our busy days and weeks. There are multitudinous options available that are geared toward different people’s ways of thinking, organizing information, and even personality.

Rather than examine those major options, which is a huge undertaking, I suggest beginning with a short-term approach which can help with the tasks that really don’t take that long to do. Having a way to manage that seemingly unending volume of items, whether they are in the daily/weekly tasks that always need to be done or are steps to larger projects, can help clear the overwhelm fog.

I remember the idea of writing each of those tasks on a small slip of paper and putting them in a large jar. Then, as you have time to do a simple item or two, you reach into the jar and grab one out and get it done. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, but never actually did it.

Here’s a similar approach that I recommend, using a “10 Minute Tasks” tool. This is shorthand for tasks that are quick to do, usually 10 minutes or less. If it takes more than 10 minutes but is still brief, it can be completed. Or if once you start, it is clear that for some reason it will take longer, you can consider putting it off to when you have more time. The idea is to accomplish those short tasks and check them off. It can be amazing the impact this has on the overwhelm fog.

You can try this out with a sample journal page, which you can download and copy.  The sample also includes a list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks List

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

Would you like the full set of pages to work with?  Email me at carol@carolbrusegar.com and request them. You can make multiple copies and use them as much as you would like.