Episode: Beginner’s Guide to Journaling

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Michael Hyatt: Dag Hammarskjöld was the youngest of four sons born to a prominent Swedish family in 1929. His father, Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, was a former prime minister of Sweden, a member of the Hague Tribunal, and chairman of the board of the Nobel Foundation. Given that impressive pedigree, it’s not surprising that young Dag, though trained as an economist, chose a career in public life. In fact, he was such a rising star that in 1953 he was named secretary general of the United Nations at age 47. He is the youngest person ever to hold that responsibility.

Megan Hyatt Miller: The 1950s were a tumultuous time in world affairs. As the Korean War drew to a close, the Cold War heated up, bringing the threat of nuclear world war. Armed conflict erupted in Vietnam, and the Suez Crisis threatened to bring all-out war to the Middle East. The Communist revolution took place in Cuba, and bloody anti-colonial conflicts erupted across the African continent. Beyond that, a string of natural disasters created humanitarian crises in Algeria, Haiti, Uruguay, and Japan.

Michael: As the man charged with bringing 193 nations together to resolve conflicts, promote peace, and above all, prevent another world war, Hammarskjöld faced unbelievable pressures. During the Suez Crisis, Hammarskjöld was denounced as being pro-Egyptian. Others claimed he advocated an expansionist role for the United Nations, thereby compromising its authority and effectiveness. Still others called him a sellout to the United States. All of the great powers complained about Hammarskjöld’s independent leadership, and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev even tried to force his resignation.

How did the mild-mannered secretary general navigate his way through one of the most tumultuous and violent decades of the twentieth century? His little-known secret, revealed only after his premature death in 1961, is that Dag Hammarskjöld was an inveterate journaler. Found and published after his death, Hammarskjöld’s journal called Markings has become a classic of personal spiritual writing. It was his refuge from the withering criticism of others and the incalculable stress of managing world affairs. It was a laboratory for working out his own thoughts and determining how to be a leader in a chaotic world.

Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. In this episode, I’ll give you a simple pathway to get started on a practice that can greatly improve your self-awareness and your leadership: journaling.

Megan: We all know being a great leader means practicing self-awareness. We’ve talked about that here on the podcast several times, but that’s incredibly hard to do in a consistent way. Today we’ll show you how the simple practice of writing for a few minutes a day can help you avoid making mistakes based on pride or ignorance and make solid decisions by being aware of your own motivations.

So, Dad, you haven’t always been a journaler. Right? Why has this become a discipline for you in recent years?

Michael: Well, I always loved the idea of being a journaler, but I could never stay with it. I tried a couple of times and just gave up on it. It just seemed like too much work. Then right after I left the corporate work environment, Mom and I decided to take a month off and kind of collect our thoughts and think about what was next and kind of plan this next chapter in our lives. She suggested I start journaling.

I kind of rolled my eyes, and she said, “No, really.” So she had me read a book. I don’t even remember what it was now, but she had me read a book on journaling, and I thought, “Okay.” She was getting some real meaning from the process at the time, so she just challenged me. She said, “I want to encourage you to try to do this for a week, and if you don’t like it after you’ve done it for a week, then you don’t have to do it.” So I reluctantly agreed. That was six years ago, and I’ve been a steady, consistent journaler ever since.

Megan: Amazing. True confession here. I am not a regular journaler, and the reason for that is largely because my morning routine, which is I think when I would do it, has been pretty compressed because I have young kids, and it just hasn’t fit in, but I think I’m getting into a season where that might make sense, so I’d love to hear from you how you’ve found journaling to be beneficial.

Michael: More than anything, it has helped me become a more self-aware leader. We’ve talked about self-awareness a lot on this show. I think one of the key attributes of effective leaders is that they’re self-aware. If you don’t have any time in your life to process what you’re going through, to really reflect on what you’re experiencing, you’re not going to be very self-aware. You’re just moving too fast.

Journaling is an opportunity to process previous events, to clarify your thinking, to see yourself in the context of a bigger story, and even, for me (this is especially important to somebody who’s an Enneagram 3. If you don’t know what that is, it’s fine, but if you do, it’s hard for me to be aware of my feelings because I tend to stuff them in order to pursue objectives), to connect with my heart, reflect on the lessons I’m learning, and ask the important questions that lead to deeper thinking.

Megan: That’s fantastic. There are two types of self-awareness. There is the internal type of self-awareness, where it’s knowledge of your inner self, and then the external type is seeing yourself as others see you. How do you think journaling gets at both of those types of self-awareness?

Michael: Well, I think it gets at the internal one because it gives you a chance to check in on what you’re thinking and feeling and all of that, but I think also as you process the events you go through… We don’t usually have an opportunity in real time to be that reflective. We’re just reacting or initiating or working through it, but oftentimes the insight comes to me the day later. I happen to journal in the morning, and I start by talking about what happened the previous day. Well, after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee, I have perspective, so I can put that event or those events in perspective and really understand where they fit as part of the whole.

Megan: I like that. There are a lot of great leaders who have kept a journal of their thoughts, ideas, and discovery. Not just art, as you know. It’s easy to think maybe it’s just people who are creatives, but it’s not. Thomas Edison, for example, and Leonardo da Vinci, Lewis and Clark, Mark Twain, Harry Truman, General George Patton, and Theodore Roosevelt. It’s a pretty long list, and that’s just a little taste, I’m sure. It seems to be a common thread among many great leaders, either of the world or thought leaders or whatever, that they’re taking time to reflect, which is kind of out of our frame of reference today.

Michael: It is, because we live in a world that’s moving so quickly and where speed is valued over deep reflective thinking. That was not always so. In the past, people were more likely to journal. It was more of a cultural practice. We don’t have that much to support that today, but in my experience, a lot of leaders are rediscovering this.

Megan: So every leader can develop greater self-awareness by journaling, but let’s face it. Most of us are not particularly good at this. Dad, you’ve promised five simple steps to get us started on this discipline. I have to be honest here. Like I said, I was a dedicated journaler up until my mid-20s.

Michael: What happened?

Megan: Well, I got married and I had kids.

Michael: Life happened. That’s what happened.

Megan: Suddenly my morning routine became drastically shorter. I, by the way, did not journal in any kind of app. There really wasn’t one back then. I was journaling on paper in beautiful journals. I have boxes of journals in my closet right now that I’ve saved.

Michael: How long did you do it for?

Megan: Probably from middle school to my mid-20s, and then I just stopped. For the last 10-plus years I really haven’t done anything. Having a family has made it difficult to integrate this practice into my routine, and I imagine with our listeners they’re probably having some similar objections, like, “I don’t have time for this.” But I’m really eager to have an open mind and consider this in a new way in a new season of life and see if it’s something I can integrate.

Michael: Okay, so I could just guilt you into this or I can try to convince you.

Megan: Good.

Michael: No, I’m kidding. Seriously. I think there are a lot of good reasons, and I think, honestly, what I’m going to share is going to make it very easy. When I first started journaling, it was hard. I didn’t like the idea of looking at a blank sheet of paper, but once I started… I have some practices, some hacks that can make it really easy.

Step one is name your why. Self-awareness is a great motive. Meg, you need this. You’re a growing leader, and you know you need more self-awareness, but knowing that and coming up with a practice where you can express it and cultivate it are two different things.

Megan: Honestly, the busier you feel the more you need this, because the busier you are the less time you have for any kind of reflection or intentional time of cultivating self-awareness, so I can see the value of that.

Michael: It’s almost like mini-therapy. When you go to a therapist (I know you’ve done that, and I’ve done that work too), you get a chance to process what has happened. It might be something in the recent past or in the distant past, but you have a chance to process your feelings and kind of get it out there. Well, journaling is the same way. Again, to process important ideas, to capture a life event. There are things that happen I don’t want to lose, and if I don’t record that I’m definitely going to lose it.

Or to find a solution to a life or a career problem. Sometimes a theme will stretch for days over the course of my journaling as I work through the problem, as I try to come to a solution. To kick-start a discipline or a habit. It’s a great place to record your progress on that. And just to hone your writing skills. I probably write 500 words every morning, and it’s kind of cool. Even if I don’t do anything else, I’m writing on a daily basis, and that’s very helpful.

Megan: I think the takeaway here is that without some kind of a compelling why, like from the list you just mentioned, journaling can just become another item on your to-do list, and that’s not what we want. We really need to connect it to something that’s more meaningful.

Michael: By the way, one why I don’t think is good is because you want to leave your posterity something from your legacy. I think that actually inhibits good writing and honest journaling. So to have it locked up or, if you use a digital solution, to password protect it or something, where you’re saying, “I don’t want anybody to ever read this or to ever find it.” If they do and they can break the code, great, but I don’t want to write conscious that somebody may read this someday.

Megan: Along those lines, how much freedom do you give yourself to be brutally honest in your journal?

Michael: Well, I probably dial it back from brutally honest.

Megan: Why? That’s interesting.

Michael: It’s interesting, but there’s something about being brutally honest and putting it out there that is a little bit scary sometimes, but I also want to say the words I use to describe the situation I’m in also shape that reality. If I kind of dial it up in the drama… I can choose how I’m going to express it.

Megan: So it’s not really cathartic. That’s not your why.

Michael: Exactly. It’s not my why. It’s a processing tool. I’m trying to be a little bit objective and think about the experience, and I don’t want to make it more intense or my feelings more intense. Just the adjectives you use can dial up the drama or dial down the drama. I just try to be careful about that. So I’m not brutally honest if by “brutally honest” you mean do I hype it up and put it all out there.

Megan: So you’re saying your journaling now is probably different from what I was doing when I was in middle school, for example.

Michael: Probably. Where everything is dramatic. Right?

Megan: That’s right.

Michael: Apparently, Madeleine L’Engle agrees with me. She said, “If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.”

Megan: So step one in our beginner’s guide to journaling is to find your why. Where do we go next?

Michael: You have to choose a format. There are a ton of options out there. There’s electronic. Day One is what I’ve used for most of my journaling career. I’m just moving to paper now. Day One is a fabulous solution. I love it. It has a lot of wonderful features. It’s one of those apps that gets out of the way and just lets you write. For you geeks out there, if you’re used to writing in MultiMarkdown, it does use that, and I love that. There are other ones out there too, like LiveJournal, Penzu, and Journalate.

You could use Evernote. You could use a Word doc, a Google doc. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The important thing is not where you’re keeping it but that you are keeping it. Or paper. For all of the reasons we mentioned in the last episode, I’m moving to paper, because I think that is going to slow me down even further and give me a chance to even better reflect. One of the things that happens when you’re writing on paper is that you kind of have to think about what you’re going to write before you write it.

Megan: And you can’t write as fast as you’re thinking.

Michael: That’s right. It slows you down in a good way and gives you a chance to process it. In fact, we’re launching our own Full Focus Journal, and this’ll be a product we’ll be using as well as selling.

Megan: I agree with that. I know when I was journaling I really enjoyed the experience of writing on paper. The self-expression, the clarity I got from it… Just the whole experience of journaling was made richer by actually writing, because it helped me process my emotions more effectively.

Michael: I like that too.

Megan: What about this question of security? This is the big fear, that somebody is going to find your journal and read it.

Michael: I would say, to go back to the previous point, I’m not putting things out there that are so raw I would be embarrassed if somebody read it. It may be a little bit uncomfortable in some points, especially when I’m talking about somebody others may know, but for the most part I’m not getting down and dirty on that. I’m processing things about me. I’m not talking about other people. This is not gossip by some other name. I’m talking about me and my perceptions of what’s going on.

Having said that, if you’re using an electronic journal like Day One you can use password protection. You can use end-to-end encryption. They have a new feature where you can encrypt it from the moment it leaves your computer to the cloud. It’s pretty strong. For a paper journal, though, I’m just going to do with it what I would do with a checkbook or anything else that was valuable, a will or some other document. Keep it in a drawer. If you want to, you can lock it up.

Megan: I kind of think this is one of those almost irrational fears that gets overblown. It’s just not that big of a deal. Nobody is thinking about you more than you’re thinking about you. You know what I mean?

Michael: That’s one of your famous quotes, and I love it.

Megan: It’s not like people are just dying to get in your journal and read hundreds of pages of your thoughts.

Michael: Well, and if they get it after you’re dead, what do you care? You’re gone.

Megan: Who cares? That’s right.

Michael: I’m a big fan of keeping a daily journal. My journal has allowed me to clarify my thoughts, process my feelings, and make better decisions as a leader. The problem is that most of our students and customers who want to journal struggle with it. Why? Well, for starters, it’s hard to slow down and write, and it’s difficult to know where to begin. It’s a little bit scary staring at a blank piece of paper.

Well, that’s exactly why I created the Full Focus Journal. This contains a template of eight questions I designed to answer every day. Keeping a daily journal just got easier. It’s as simple as answering each of these questions, and you can do it in as little as 10 minutes a day. It helps me continue my growth as a leader and practice gratitude.

This is your solution if you want to grow in self-awareness, eliminate nagging thoughts, and make each day better than the last. But there’s more. There’s another new product in our Full Focus Planner lineup. In addition to the journal, you can also get the Full Focus Notebook. It’s a paper note-taking system that follows you around every day, and it pairs beautifully with the Full Focus Planner.

If you find yourself running out of note-taking space or you just want additional notes or additional pages, the Full Focus Notebook is the tool for you. With these tools in your arsenal, the Full Focus Planner, the Full Focus Journal, and the Full Focus Notebook, we’re positive you’ll be able to win at work and succeed at life. You can find out more at,, and There are links in the show notes.

Megan: Great. So step one in our beginner’s guide to journaling is to find your why, and step two is to pick your format. That brings me to the big question for all journalers. What do I write about?

Michael: That brings us to step three: pick a template. The scary part of journaling for me when I first started was looking at a blank computer screen, because I was doing it digitally at the time. I think for people who are writing in a paper journal, just looking at that blank piece of paper is overwhelming.

Megan: Yeah, I have to say, before you get into the specifics here… Before talking with you about this, this never occurred to me. I’d never heard of people using a template for journaling. I just figured you sat down, you got your pen, you got your journal or whatever you were going to use, and you just started writing whatever came to mind, kind of like stream of consciousness. So the idea that there could be structure to it is pretty revolutionary and, frankly, takes a lot of the anxiety out.

Michael: Well, as you know, I’m the template king.

Megan: You are.

Michael: I try to template everything I do. I find if I’m doing the same thing over and over again there’s probably a process I can engineer that makes it easier and more effective. That’s what having a template does. When you’re beginning, a template is really helpful, because it answers that “What to write?” question, and it brings consistency to your daily writing. What I’m going to do is just share the template I’ve been using now for almost six years, the template we include in the Full Focus Journal. There are basically eight questions you answer every day. You can be as elaborate or as brief as you want to be.

Question #1: What happened in the past day? If you’re journaling in the morning, this refers to yesterday. If you’re journaling at night, this refers to the day just ending. Here’s where you want to record the events. Typically, for me (I don’t know how you are), the days go by so fast I have to have my calendar open and look at what I did.

Megan: So true.

Michael: Usually, there are some pretty significant things that happened. Again, I’m doing it in the morning, so I’m talking about the previous day. There are usually pretty significant things that happened that I want to remember. I record sort of the highs and the lows, anything I want to remember later or anything that was unique or memorable about that.

Question #2: What were my biggest wins? This gives me a sense of momentum with which to start the day. I like to begin with where I’m winning. Now here’s the thing. As humans, we have a choice. We can focus on where we’re losing or where we’re winning. It’s just perspective. The truth is we’re doing some of each, but as long as we have the choice that we can focus, I’d rather start by focusing on my wins and get a sense of momentum, build my confidence. I think it’s actually a better perspective, because we’re probably winning more often than we think. Particularly for people who are high achievers, if they’re not careful, they focus on where they’re losing.

Megan: No doubt about it.

Michael: Question #3: What lessons did I learn? This is not very long, but I just try to ask myself, “Was there anything I learned in the last 24 hours I don’t want to forget?” Oftentimes, probably more than 50 percent of the time, it’s a lesson I know that I just had an opportunity to relearn. It’s not new and some blinding insight. It’s a repetition of something I already know, but now I have a new illustration or a new experience or a new memory to illustrate it.

Question #4: What am I thankful for right now? This is where I transition into the present. For me, it’s things like I’m thankful for a good night’s sleep or I’m just thankful I get to wake up in a warm home with clean clothes and running water and all that stuff. It could be as trivial as that, but to just remind myself the things I have are things I need to be grateful for.

This is an important one for me. Question #5: How am I feeling right now? Feelings aren’t the be-all, end-all, but they’re a clue. In the past, as I mentioned earlier, I tended to ignore those or suppress them. Then I would wake up really anxious and not really knowing why. This gives me a chance to kind of take my pulse at an emotional level and just ask, “How am I feeling?”

Honestly, for me, most of the time, thankfully, because I’ve learned to control my emotional life, I’m feeling optimistic. I really try to work on my rest, so I’m usually feeling well rested, but not all the time. Sometimes I’m frustrated. Sometimes I’m feeling overwhelmed. I might be angry. It could be a lot of different things. I want to record those, because I’m looking for patterns as I go back and review my journal and just want to monitor my emotional health. I think it’s important.

Megan: That’s great.

Michael: Question #6: What did I read or hear? Here I list important books, articles, passages, or podcasts I consumed since I last journaled. Honestly, for me, because I read the Bible every morning, I’m usually trying to look for some passage, something that stood out to me in my reading.

Question #7: What stood out? I don’t want to lose what I learn in my reading and listening, so I record key insights. Usually that’s just one insight, but something that struck me in my reading or my listening I don’t want to forget.

Question #8: What can I do next to move forward on my goals or important projects? Sometimes this is a goal. Sometimes it’s an important project. They’re not the same, but it’s important to identify what it is I’m going to do today and what it is I can distill from the goals and important projects I do have. This feeds directly into my Daily Big 3 in my Full Focus Planner, which is another product we have. For me, to answer those eight questions takes roughly 15 minutes. Your mileage may vary.

Megan: Dad, do you feel like using a template limits you or frees you up?

Michael: I think it frees me up. It gives me a track to run on. It’s the same reason I use a template for everything, whether I’m writing a book or doing a chapter or writing a blog post. A template gives me a track to run on so I’m not wondering, “Uh, what comes next?” I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. I have a good template. By the way, this has been tested for almost six years, so this is not something I cooked up last week and I’m trying to see how it works. No, I’ve done this in the highs and lows of my life over the course of nearly six years, and it has served me well.

Megan: I like that. It definitely is the antidote to the blank page. I can see where that would be effective. All right. Step one in our beginner’s guide to journaling is to find your why. Step two is to pick a format. Step three is to choose a template. Frankly, after doing all that, it’s still a challenge to sit down and write every day, because we just forget. Half the battle is remembering to do it.

Michael: That’s right, and that brings us to step four: use an activation trigger. What I mean by that is something that’s a prompt to act. For example, when I was first starting to run, I noticed the most difficult part of the run was from my bed to the closet to put on my running clothes. There were times when I would just bail out of that and blow it off.

So one of the things I started doing as an activation trigger was laying out my running clothes the night before. I put them right in the bathroom between the toilet and me, so I saw them on the way… That was always the first place I visited when I woke up, so there were my running clothes. It made it easy, a reminder that I needed to put those on and get out and run.

An activation trigger when it comes to journaling could be a number of things. You could use a calendar reminder. What I’ve done is made it part of my morning routine. It’s the third thing I do every morning, and I do it every morning. I know what comes before it, what comes after it, and it makes it very easy. You could also put the journal on a breakfast table or on your pillow if you do it at night. For me, because I’ve been doing it digitally, I just leave it open on my computer. The night before, it’s opened up, and when I get there in the morning that’s the first thing I see.

Megan: I think the strongest activation trigger of all is probably seeing the physical journal. I can imagine in my morning routine… The first thing I do is get coffee, and the second thing I do is I have a book that’s my daily devotional. I do that for about five or seven minutes. I could imagine if those were always stacked together, it sort of automates the “What’s next?” part of the process, which makes it really easy.

All right. True confession moment here. Besides the fact that I’m not already journaling, I have a little bit of an issue with perfectionism. So let’s say, hypothetically, I missed a few days of my journaling routine. How do you get over that? If the whole point of this is to be consistent but life happens and you’re not consistent and then you feel shame… Maybe this is starting to become a therapy kind of issue here, but, seriously, one of the obstacles is that it can feel daunting to take up a new habit. You wonder if you can be consistent. What would you say to that?

Michael: Well, one of the things I suggest is that when you’re taking on a new habit you come up with a compliance standard. What I mean by that is think of it as a game. How many times in a row do you have to do it to be successful? In other words, you give yourself a fudge factor.

Megan: Oh. I’ve actually already done this. I’m having a light bulb moment. My youngest two sons are adopted. After they came home from Uganda, I was trying to reestablish a morning routine, and it was really difficult, because things were crazy. They were little. They often woke me up in the morning, so it wasn’t like I got to wake up an hour and a half before they did and have a great morning routine. I had to come up with something really simple.

So I started this devotional that just took me about five minutes to complete, and that was my entire morning routine, besides coffee, for a long time. One of the things I found, though, is that I would give myself permission to not do it on the weekends. I would do it Monday through Friday, and then just no pressure on the weekends, and honestly, if I even missed one more day… If I got four days, in my own mind I felt great about it. That’s what you’re really saying here.

Michael: Honestly, for my journaling, I probably get five out of seven days, but I never doubt whether I’m going to pick it up again. I don’t shame myself when it happens. It’s not a big deal. If I’m journaling five out of seven days or even four out of seven, some weeks six out of seven… Some weeks I nail it, seven out of seven, but who cares? We’re looking at the trajectory, not those individual days. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure.

In the pursuit of any habit, come up with a compliance standard. Like you just said, give yourself permission to miss on the weekends or to even miss during the week. There are times when we have very busy weeks and maybe an early morning and I’m not able to go through my quiet time or my journaling. It’s okay. It’s not a big deal. It’s not like there’s the journaling police, that they’re going to show up at your door and say, “Look, I have to have that journal back because, obviously, you’re not worthy.”

Megan: Right. So glad we covered that. Now I know.

Michael: Good.

Megan: All right. So step one in our beginner’s guide to journaling is to find your why. Step two is to pick a format. Step three is to choose a template. Step four is to set up an activation trigger, but here’s another question. How long do I have to keep doing this? Is this a lifelong habit I have to commit to from the get-go? What are we talking about?

Michael: It’s a sentence. Okay, that brings us to step five: commit to a trial period. This is how I sucker myself into doing so many things.

Megan: That’s true. You do.

Michael: If you think it’s going to be forever… I remember when I first started on Periscope. Do you still remember what that was?

Megan: Mostly a disaster.

Michael: It wasn’t a disaster. It was awesome.

Megan: At the end it was pretty disastrous.

Michael: It was one of the first live-streaming platforms, and the thing I loved about it was I committed to do it for 30 days, and that’s all I did it, but I wanted to develop my capability to do live video. I was scared to death of it. By the time I got done with that 30-day experiment, it was awesome. I had so much confidence in doing live video, and that has served me well right up until this day. I would have never done that if I had said, “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”

I did the same thing when I started blogging. I did the same thing when I started running. I did the same thing when I started strength training. Everything I’ve done, I’ve treated it as a trial period. It’s also very easy to sell other people on this idea too. This is how I’m selling you on it. I’m not asking you to commit forever. Just try it. Don’t think of it as a lifetime commitment. In fact, what I would encourage you to do is to try it for 30 days.

If you really want to get serious about installing it as a habit, like maybe you’re already convinced… We know it takes more than, certainly, the proverbial 21 days to install a habit. The research shows it’s, on average, 66 days, but make it six weeks. Whatever it is, pick a time, and just say, “I’m going to be faithful to do this. I’m going to try to do this every day,” or if you have a compliance standard that says you can be off on the weekends, that’s fine, but to do it for the number of weeks, and then evaluate. Honestly, if it doesn’t serve you, don’t do it. Life is too short.

Megan: Well, I have a feeling, since I’ve been a journaler in the past, I will rediscover a love for journaling in this new season, so what I’m going to do is commit to a month, because I want to make sure about that before I install it as a habit. So I’ll reevaluate at week four and then decide if I want to continue for another couple of weeks to install it as a permanent habit. I’m really excited. This has honestly convinced me.

Michael: I’ll tell you why I think it’s really important for you. You are seriously one of the most articulate, thoughtful people I know, and I think if you’re not capturing your ideas, it’s a loss for you and a loss for everybody else.

Megan: Well, honestly, thinking about having to write to the blank page… I don’t really mind thinking of ideas, but it sort of feels open-ended, like it’s just going to go on forever. To think about journaling your life feels like a very daunting task, but I know how to answer questions.

Michael: Totally. There’s a difference between journaling and writing an autobiography. This is not that.

Megan: But sometimes it can feel like there’s not a difference, and that’s what keeps us from even trying. So I love the simplicity and the boundaries of the template, because it makes it not seem like such a big thing. Sure, I can do 15 to 20 minutes of writing a day. That feels reasonable.

Michael: I know how much you love paper and pens too, so this gives you a chance to use them.

Megan: I know. I cannot wait.

Michael: In fact, you can probably buy a new pen to do this. Just like when you start a running habit you want to buy a new pair of shoes. You have to buy a pen.

Megan: I’m going to have to consult with the content team, because we have some serious pen geeks, and I have a feeling there’s a whole new world out there since the last time I journaled.

Today we’ve learned that journaling is an invaluable leadership tool for building self-awareness, and we’ve identified a simple five-step plan for getting started. As we come in for a landing, I just want to remind you the best time to begin journaling is now. Join me, guys. Even if you’ve never done it before, it’s never too late to start. Dad, any final thoughts?

Michael: If you’re committed to being a self-aware leader (and I know you are, and I know those who are listening to this podcast are), you have at least two options. You can either go to therapy or you can get a journal. Trust me. This is cheaper and easier. So if you want to become more self-aware, journaling is a great way to do it.

Megan: Fantastic. As we close, I want to thank our sponsor LeaderBox. It provides automated personal development in a box. Check it out at If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, you can get the show notes and a full transcript online at

Michael: Thanks again for joining us on Lead to Win. If you like the show, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. Also, please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts.

Megan: This program is copyrighted by Michael Hyatt & Company. All rights reserved. Our producer is Nick Jaworski.

Michael: Our writers are Joel Miller and Lawrence Wilson.

Megan: Our recording engineer is Mike Burns.

Michael: Our production assistant is Aleshia Curry.

Megan: And our intern is Winston.

Michael: We invite you to join us next week for a new episode. Until then, lead to win.