LifeJournal™ Newsletter – March 2004

LifeJournal: Clarity. Not software.


This month’s newsletter is chock full of practical journal writing suggestions. We have included ideas that help you:

  • review your journal more often
  • keep your journal going even when you are short on time using a unique technique
  • set up your Topics List so your top priorities are quick and easy to see


If you want to sustain the inspiration of the newsletter all month, try this: Select one of the articles you would like to experiment with in depth and copy and paste it into a “Letter to the Future.” (Tool menu> Letter to the Future). Enter a date when you can set aside some time specifically for journal writing (and make sure you note that in your daily planner, as well). You won’t clutter your brain trying to remember to return to the newsletter. And when you open LifeJournal on the appointed date, you will be at your journal with the information right there in front of you.

Enjoy the unfolding of Spring!


Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software Company


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The Bigger Picture: On-going Review
One Word Essence Journaling by John Robson
Mailbag: Top Priority Subjects
How to purchase LifeJournal

The Bigger Picture: On-going Review


One of the most meaningful tasks of journal keeping that is often overlooked is review. We frequently think that reviews and summaries should take place annually (like the hackneyed “New Year’s Resolutions”), but moving through one year without formally reflecting on where you have come from, where you are heading, and where you want to go doesn’t help you live your life with purpose.


Here’s one idea: Read through the last three months of your journal and make notes, annotations, and a summary. (Remember to try to stay neutral and non-judgmental when reading; try to feel compassion and empathy, as you would when listening to a friend’s story.) See what emerges–what your impressions are. What have you accomplished? How are you different than you were just three months ago? How are you the same? What are the major themes of your life? Was there a predominant emotional tone? Did you learn new skills or did you practice and get more comfortable with old skills? Were there any highlights? What were the low points? What kind of movement characterized the time? Were you ambling along or bolting through life? Were you studious and focused, or spontaneous and scattershot? Is that consistent with your usual dealings? When answering these kinds of questions, you step back and you can see the bigger picture of your life.


Another review approach is using a more structured method: David Allen, author of bestseller Getting Things Done, has an interesting model for review. He uses the image of an airplane at a range of altitudes to consider the differing life landscape views:

50, 000+ feet: Life (your mission statement)

40,000 feet: Three- to five- year vision (looking to the future to strategize about your family, work organization, health, etc.)

30,000 feet: One- to two-year goals (projected outcomes in areas of responsibility)

20,000 feet: Areas of responsibility (for example, on the personal realm: health, family, spirituality; in the professional arena: staff development, market research, and asset management)

10,000 feet: Current projects (short-term outcomes)

Runway: Current actions (immediate to-do tasks)


Allen’s main focus is on work related projects. However, you could easily modify this concept and include a more personal focus. Often we move through our personal life from a less planned, see-what-happens perspective, and that certainly may be appropriate at times. (One “can’t hurry love” as Diana Ross and the Supremes have repeatedly reminded us!) However, there are still many parts of your life that you may want to plan for and work toward. Of course, I find it helpful to remember that ultimately we are not in full control of our lives and flexibility is an essential element to planning.


Now, coming up to the end of the first quarter of 2004, may be an excellent time to take stock from the 20,000 foot perspective: consider your areas of responsibilities. Define your primary areas of responsibilities and make a quick list of the subcategories of each. For example, one area of responsibility you may have is

Household Finances:

  • Pay bills
  • File records
  • Do banking
  • Reconcile monthly bank statement
  • Prepare tax info for accountant; contact with accountant as needed


I just went through this exercise myself. From the 20,000 foot altitude I saw my life much differently than I have in the past. I don’t want to influence you with my own realizations and conclusions, but I can say that using a structured system like Allen’s definitely helped to sharpen my focus of the big picture. Consider Einstein’s statement: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” So, if you want to think more about your current projects (10,000 feet) and current actions (runway), look at your areas of responsibility (20,000 feet).


Now, re-read your journal entries from this new perspective. Do you gain a new understanding of your life? Do you see underlying patterns of thought and action; goals that you consciously or unconsciously were working toward; movement, trends, or shifts that might have missed otherwise?


Reviews are essential for seeing the big picture. They help you take a step back and look at the problem on a slightly higher level, which opens your eyes to new perspectives. And isn’t that what keeps life interesting and forward moving?

One Word Essence Journaling by John Robson


John Robson has written a journaling book entitled


Do you sabotage your journaling experiences by saying, “I don’t have the time?” (Or perhaps I should say that we don’t MAKE the time to journal.) From now on, this excuse won’t hold. If you have trouble committing time to journaling, try ‘One Word Journaling’ or headlining.


Try it this very minute – RIGHT NOW. Write just one word or a short phrase to describe your present experience. For example, what are you feeling right now? Write it in your journal or in your daily calendar or in your wallet or purse. The next time you remember this exercise, do it again. Then again and again.


Doing this one word writing process consistently, even just once per day, can give you deep insights IF each week you take just a few minutes to review your words and write a short summary of your experience.


There may be no insights as we write down one word or thought. But if we write down a series of items, over time, we can start to see relationships, trends and movement. We are able to see and sense between the written words.


The more we review the information, the more new dimensions and perspectives reveal themselves. We can draw on our intuition to bring more meaning to the material. The information comes alive. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. And as we develop higher connections and relationships among thoughts, concepts and feelings, we create and raise our consciousness.


Focus on attuning to and experiencing the essence of a person, a day, a motive, etc. Magically, the more closely we connect with an essence, the fewer words there are to describe it anyway. So rather than spend time journaling, try devoting time to attuning to the essence of things, events and people and build your awareness this way. Know that spirit lives in the essence of things, not the thing itself.


Another quick journaling solution lies in writing headlines of seven words or less. We can write headlines to capture any experience. If you’re in the mood, have fun with this by playing with alliteration, humour, verse, metaphors, parody, rhyming, puns and dualities.

If you like this process, start a page for daily headlines and you will eventually have a concise overview of the highlights in your life – your own newspaper!

Below are some ways to apply the one word, essence or headline journaling tools:

  • Capture a key highlight or memory or feeling of your day.

  • Track the essence of a specific relationship over a 3 week period.
  • Meditate and describe your experience.
  • Tune into God or your soul.
  • What was your main motive throughout the day?


Often, the fewer the words, the stronger the impression — the more we can be out of our heads and into our hearts or feeling nature.

So set up a few triggers throughout your day to remind you to do your one word essence journaling or write a short headline on what ever you want. Your triggers might include when you drink a glass of water, boot up your computer, go to the washroom, have a work break, etc.

Enjoy the insights and the journey!

When we learn how to be truly present with our joy and our sorrow, with our longing and our desires, layer upon layer of our selves and the world are revealed.”—Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Mailbag: Top priority subjects


A LifeJournal writer sent an email to us and I have his permission to include it in our newsletter:


I have been using the Topics List in a way that I think is very useful. It is simple to use and works for me and I think other LifeJournal writers would find it valuable. In my life now, there are several issues that I feel are my top priority:


-taking a big work project up to the next level

-keeping my relationship with my wife and children lively, vital, and upbeat

-setting up a scenario to make passive income

-lowering my cholesterol by exercising and watching my diet

-learning to make wine


In the Topic List (on the right side of the screen), I have created a Topic Folder called “Priorities” and have created subfolders called: Big work project; Family relationships; Passive income; Exercise; Low cholesterol diet; Make wine.


Whenever I’m not sure what to write about, I look at this list of top priority topics and decide to write about one of them—to create movement and to keep those subjects in the forefront of my awareness. I move away from the same-old thinking I can get caught in, because when I’m writing I don’t stay in a rut—my thinking expands to new places when I focus and write.



There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.—John F. Kennedy

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©Chronicles Software Company, 2004. All rights reserved deeper… Reach higher… Journaling for Self Empowerment. He offers his e-book and a journaling facilitation training program to fit your special interests at Journaling Tools. John and his wife Patrice also offer 20 journaling application workbooks and programs at Higher Awareness.