In all my years of learning and teaching the art of Jeet Kune Do, I have only come across a handful of people who carry with them a personal journal.
And only ONE of them did it on their own initiative; it was already his personal habit to begin with.
This person is one of my long-time private students, and also happens to be the wealthiest persons I personally know.
Perhaps, I should rephrase the title of this entry and ask, “Why do you not journal?” instead.
Why do you not journal?
I am curious to understand.
Do you have an eidetic memory?
Are you able to effectively reflect on your learning over the weeks and months without having anything to refer to?
Do you genuinely care about what you have personally invested the time, money and effort to learn?
If you do, you should journal daily.
Even if it is just a sentence, or even a few words.
I do that at the start of the day, throughout the day and before I sleep.
Not on my phone, not on my tablet and certainly not on my computer.
I keep my intimate writings on every single one of those notebooks you see on the featured image of this entry.
And those are only the tip of the iceberg.
What are the benefits of journaling?
1. Effective Recall
If I want to extract something from, say, the year 2013 when I was learning Concept A from Mentor X, it’s documented.
I don’t trust my own short-term memory, much less long-term memory.
I know that I won’t be able to recall every important element, which basically means I assume that my memory will decay.
The most powerful thing about effective recall is that the present you will be able to stack your success on top of these reacquired concepts.
The last thing we want is to progress to a certain level, only to forget what we had learnt in the beginning.
2. The ‘Snowball Effect’
Journaling builds momentum.
You won’t feel it today, you won’t feel it tomorrow, but after a period of dedicated journaling, when you look back, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how much momentum you had unknowingly built by stacking every bit of learning on top of one another.
One tiny shot at a time, all eventually combining to form one big hole in the target.
Compare this to another person who thinks, “It’s okay, I will remember it somehow.”
It will all add up — very significantly — in the final analysis.
3. Clarity and Strength of Intent
Can a movie be filmed without a script?
Well, at the very least, we can be sure that no production company will be willing to take your movie on without one.
What if I told you that the same concept applies to the movie of your life?
Think about it.
“Writing notes” is taking down what other people say or want you to encode, but scripting is all about having clarity and strength of intent.
It is all about knowing where you want to go.
Not necessarily the “how”, that will come later.
What we want is a bird’s eye view and strategizing of how we will progress.
What are all the important pieces?
How should they all connect?
What do we not know?
What do we not know that we not know?
What are all the strategic points of getting to where we want to get?
Much like combat, either you PLAN (actually sit down and plan) to win, or you don’t.
In my experience with journaling, I realized a few shocking things.
The first one is that I noticed that literally every goal that I had written down seemed absurd and impossible at the time of writing, but without realizing it, I had either achieved all of them, or am already halfway there.
Maybe some of you can relate to this.
The other thing I realized was — I am wrong about many of my assumptions.
Especially when I start to assume that I already know certain things.
Especially when I start to assume that I am right.
Especially when I start to let success get into my head.
All I need to do is to flip back some pages back to review, say, what I was working on just three months ago.
And guess what I see?
My assumptions at the time? Wrong.
My beliefs about myself and the world? Wrong.
What I believe I could do, where I believed I was going, what I believed I knew — all incomplete assessments.
Journaling lets you see your own blind spots.
What else does that for you?
This final point is very much for the JKD man.
It is my personal favourite and most powerful habit.
It is also my go to strategy and focus for this year.
What exactly do I mean by focus?
I want less.
I want to eliminate.
I want to remove anything and everything that is clutter, that is unneeded, that is noise, that holds me back, that weighs me down, that distracts me.
You get the idea.
In order to become the most focused, the most single-minded, the most productive that I can ever be — I need to eliminate.
Very much like the concept of Economy in Jeet Kune Do, I want to achieve the most by doing the least.
If that is your go-to approach in the martial arts as a JKD man, why is it not the same way with your life?
As a student, I go to every training session equipped with a journal specially for that area of learning.
As a teacher, every time I realize a particular student isn’t journaling what he or she is learning from me, I get silently concerned.
Not only do I start to wonder, “Will what we are working on be forgotten in a few months’ time?”
I also think to myself,
“Do you even journal?”
Until next time,