Monday, 3 September 2012

Journalling School Session 7: Problem Solving

Welcome to the seventh session of Journalling School. In today's session we'll be looking at how your journal can help you solve many problems that might beset you.

Have you ever lain awake at night or woken up early, your mind spinning frantically, fixating on an issue you are facing and refusing you the peace you need to sleep?

If not, have you ever found yourself facing an issue that you can't see how to resolve, that ends up oppressing you, preventing you from enjoying the positive aspects of your life?

Well, your journal can help you with these situations. In previous sessions, we've talked about using your journal to dump such worries, but today we're going to go beyond that. Because actually, journalling can help you not only cope with these problems, but actually resolve them too.

There are ten ways you can use your journal to solve problems.

Actually, there aren't; or if there are, I don't know what they are. But if I wrote that sentence in my journal - "There are ten ways you can use your journal to solve problems" - I'm sure I could come up with ten.

This is a technique I have used in my own journal to explore thoughts and issues and resolve problems. Here's an actual example I used recently:
I am going to list twelve things I can do with the family at the weekend to make up for working late every day this week.
And having written that in my journal, I then set about listing my ideas.

Why twelve? Because it was a few more than I thought I'd be able to manage. I did manage twelve, although the last three needed a few minutes of headscratching. If I hadn't had the target number to fulfil, I would have stopped at nine. That would have been a shame, because number eleven was a real gem of an idea.

I have used the technique quite widely already, and giving yourself a stretching target really does pay dividends.

Think about these examples:

  • There are ten things I can do right now to save money.
  • I can think of five ways to help me stick to the diet I keep breaking.
  • Here are twelve things I can do this month to help make my career change.
  • There are six ways I can try to repair my relationship with my neighbour.

To reiterate, you don't have to know what any of the numbered things or ways are when you write down that introductory sentence. Writing it down is challenging yourself to fulfil the commitment you just made. Make sure you persist and actually meet the quota, even if some of the ideas seem a bit silly. Often, writing down those silly ideas can be fantastically useful, because it makes you hold them in your head longer than you normally would, where they can inspire other, potentially viable ideas.


If you are facing a particular problem, use the technique. Challenge yourself by choosing a number which is more than you think you can come up with. If you believe you might be able to find six or seven ways to earn more money, for instance, write down: There are ten ways I can start earning more money right away. Then keep writing until you have listed ten. If you find it easy, then keep going; identify more ideas and next time give yourself more of a challenge.

If you don't have a particular problem, then go back to your goals and apply the approach with one of them. Write something like: There are six things I can do tomorrow to help achieve my goal to... As above, don't stop until you've met the challenge, and keep writing of you get there quickly.

Finally, turn your ideas into scheduled activities in your planner, or undated tasks where you can't assign a time and date.

That was the seventh session of Journalling School. In the next session we'll be looking at keeping things fresh in your journal.

Feedback, thoughts and ideas are welcome, as ever. Please share your experiences in the comments.
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