A while back, I was given a “gratitude journal” by a friend. The journal was made up of 365 blank pages, each consisting of a list numbered one to five.
On each page, at the end of the day, you were supposed to write five things that you were grateful for in your life. Over the course of a year, you’re going to be writing down a lot of things that are actually pretty great in your life.
I think a gratitude journal is a great way to help people appreciate the many things they have in their life. However, for me, I already felt like my life was full of things to appreciate. I never had a problem with that.
My challenge was a bit different, and I found a way to use that gratitude journal to help.
Instead of writing in that journal in the evenings, I started writing in that journal in the mornings. I tried to think of five things in my life that would encourage me to make good choices that day. I’d start off with an entry that would force me to think of the pieces of my life that push me to do better.
Let me give you an example. Most days, one of those entries would be about my children. I’d write about how my daughter dreams about going to Paris and doodles the Eiffel Tower on pretty much any piece of scratch paper she finds. I’d write about how my oldest son asked about college or worked diligently on some advanced homework problems.
I’ll also often write about my wife. I’ll write about how I saw her stressed out about a job situation and how I hope she can retire early. I’ll write about how I saw her looking at a travel website and dreaming about a future vacation, or maybe she mentioned something about building our future dream home.
I’ll write something about a future professional goal or a project I’m working on or what I’d like to do as soon as I retire.
What do these things have in common? They all remind me of reasons why I should keep my eye on the ball when it comes to finances.
By simply writing this entry in the morning, the thoughts behind those ideas stick in my head throughout the day, much like a good breakfast fuels your energy.
Another valuable part of this: during the day, I’ll obviously see my children and my wife, and because I wrote that entry at the start of the day and put some thought into it, I’m reminded of that entry when I see them. When I see my daughter, I think about her dreams of going to Paris and then I’m immediately reminded that I need to make good choices to help make this happen for her.
By setting the stage for this kind of thinking at the start of the day, the rest of the day becomes loaded with reminders of my commitment to good personal, professional, and financial choices.
There’s always something there to remind me.
Oh, if you’re anywhere between the ages of, say, 33 and 45, the title of this post probably reminded you of a 1980s song. In fact, I came up with the title of this post and kept thinking that it reminded me of something… and when I finally came up with it, I actually laughed at myself. Here it is – enjoy.