Written by Reid Sheehan

From a blank page to a full life

I rarely take the time to reflect on the events of each day. I feel what I feel in the moment and then tend to let go and move on. But is this what’s best for us and our personal growth?

We grow not just by doing things, but by reflecting on why we do the things we do. Introspection lets us rediscover our passions and see what matters most to us. From here, we can re-focus our attention on specific values and goals.

I think this is something that has grown even more important over the past year when all of our lives have been turned upside down in ways we could have never anticipated. Psychologists have noted The Power of Journaling and its ability to help us cope during these uncertain times.

Putting pen to paper

I took deliberate time every night for 14 days straight to put my intangible thoughts into physical words on paper. I decided not to give myself too much structure as I was curious how powerful my free-flowing thoughts could be.

But due to human nature, my thoughts ended up building their own pattern. I tended to start with a basic recap of what occurred and always ended up concluding my thoughts with some form of gratitude and goal-setting. I listed these things out as they came to mind, not overthinking it in any way.

Rather than thinking in a macro-sense, I chose to focus on the micro-details that characterized each specific day. I saw the joy in Starbucks runs with friends, even when we had to wait 30 minutes for an overpriced latte. I re-centered myself by realizing that each day’s tasks are in and of themselves goals, even if it’s just finally getting all of my laundry done on Sunday before the week starts.

Some may relate to my more free-flowing approach, but others may thrive off of structure. Or maybe you need a little kickstart from Journal Prompts to ease writer’s block. There is no right or wrong way to do it! We are all unique, no matter how cliché that sounds, and require different creative processes to achieve our self-fulfillments.

Daily writing impacted my life in many ways. I was finally taking the time to reflect, and as a result, I not only allowed myself to cope but gave myself room to grow. I was able to re-focus my outlook on life and see things in a new light.  

Hidden gifts

How often do you take the time to reflect on the big changes that have occurred recently or even just the daily ones? It’s too easy to sit back and complain about how our lives are so different now and what we should be doing or where we should be.

Have you ever considered the more minor life changes that have occurred due to the more significant ones? When you take the time to do so, the silver-linings will become more transparent, and maybe you will even be able to see the beauty in the changes in your life. When I took the time to reflect, I found that these more minor life changes were actually hidden gifts.

I could complain all day about my last year of school taking place from the walls of my bedroom. But when I began writing about each of my days, I noticed a common theme. Virtual learning had secretly given me the greatest gift of all: invaluable time with my best friends.

Rather than spending our days apart, we were given the ability to work side by side. We have grown closer than ever before as we bond through this new experience and help each other throughout it along the way. We have struggled through a poor internet connection, seemingly boring days, limited social lives, and even isolation. What we sometimes fail to realize, though, is these struggles are what have made us that much closer this past year.  

Daily goals

It’s easy to tell ourselves we will do something, but how often do we get these things done? When I set specific goals for each day, I was way more likely to succeed in achieving them.

My goals weren’t anything huge. I kept them simple and attainable. They ranged from small errands I wanted to complete to spending more time outside or even just doing something to make myself happy. The little goals I achieved each day built up my confidence and helped me get into a groove. A groove that in our remote world can feel hard or even awkward.

These may seem like silly goals, but it’s so easy to let yourself be lazy when so much of life has been limited. It’s even easier to forget to check in on yourself. These goals helped me make the most out of each day, whether through specific tasks or simply having a positive attitude. 

The big picture

We’ve all heard of the saying, “You can’t have the rainbow without a little rain,” and I think daily writing portrayed this to me on an even more personal level. When I have a stressful day, it can often cloud my vision. I’ll plop into bed thinking, “Wow, I’m so glad that’s over.” I rarely take the time to think about what I have accomplished or how I have grown as a person.

Reflecting on each day gave me the ability to see the bigger picture. As my pen hit my notebook, what seemed to be huge issues in my life became minuscule details. I would often catch myself laughing at how majorly these tiny details affected me in the moment. Daily writing let me take a step back and see life in a bigger picture. Rather than focusing on what went wrong, I began to take the outlook of what I was grateful for each day. After jotting down any feelings of frustration I may have had, I always followed it up with aspects of my life I found gratitude. This truly opened my eyes to the beauty of the rainbow in my life and how much more powerful it is compared to a few drops of rain.

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