AMY PORTERFIELD: “We've got to normalize your thinking. Everyone has thoughts that don't necessarily serve them. It's not weird, and it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of. So in order to normalize your judgmental thoughts, you instead have to give yourself some grace and remind yourself that everybody thinks this at times, or ‘I get why I do that.’ Like, give yourself some grace. And when you do this, it takes the pressure off of journaling and allows you to start taking some authority over the process.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: If you're looking for a new podcast recommendation, listen up. Entrepreneurs on Fire, hosted by my dear friend John Lee Dumas, offers major inspiration and shares strategies to fire up your entrepreneurial journey and create the life you've always dreamed of. John's been a guest on my podcast many times, and he always delivers. On his podcast, he recently did an episode called “How to Design, Build, Launch, and Grow a Small Company,” and it was brilliant. I get asked questions about starting and growing a business all the time, and this was a great podcast to answer that question. Find more episodes like this by searching for Entrepreneurs on Fire wherever you get your podcasts.
Hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. I hope you are having a wonderful week.
So, what I want to talk about today is journaling—why it's important, how it can help you as an entrepreneur, and a really great process that I use to get the most out of it. If you've been with me for a while, you know that journaling is a part of my startup ritual, and I do it every single day, Monday through Friday, and there's a reason for that, and that's because it is so incredibly important to get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper.
And when I say paper, I mean actual paper that you write on with a pen or pencil. Okay, well, I'm cheating a little because now I use the reMarkable, which is a digital notebook, but I'm still writing with a pen in a notebook. So it's digital, but it still feels like a notebook. But I am not wanting you to type on your computer your journal. I want you to write it with your hand. I mean, call me old school, but there is something powerful about sitting in a quiet room with a notebook on your lap and physically writing it down. And supposedly, you are having a deeper experience than when you're just typing it, studies have shown. I'm not going to quote the studies, but I promise they're out there.
Now, not to mention, as a busy business owner, I'm sure you have tons of things swirling around in your head but probably don't have the time to download them and reflect on them at that very moment. And that was me. That’s why I started to do this more consistently, because making a mental note and then coming back to those things and actually journaling about them has been very powerful because when they're swirling around in my head, that's where the anxiety starts. When they don't have a place to land, that's where I get anxious, overwhelmed, all the words, right?
And so you all know that I have made it a goal of mine to take care of my mental health at the highest level possible this year. Last year was pretty bleak and dark for me, so this year I'm like, “Nope, not having it.” And so journaling is also part of my anti-anxiety plan, and it has helped me immensely as well.
So I've journaled off and on for many years, but now I'm doing it consistently. And I check in with my coach, Corinne, and I have to check in daily and say I did it. Like, I actually got an accountability partner. That's how important it was for me.
And here's the thing: after you've written down your thoughts, you're able, then, to take it a step further and ask yourself, “Why am I having these thoughts in the first place?” and then you can actually dissect them. Now, I won't lie. This is hard, and it's a struggle because sometimes I just don't want to face some things that are coming up for me. I'm just like, “Let's move on to the next thing. I've got stuff to do today,” because slowing down and coming to terms with some of those thoughts and feelings, it can be really hard. But the more I push through it, the easier it does become.
And one thing I've realized is that it is such a great way to show up for myself and address those parts of me that aren't necessarily really beautiful and shiny. It’s like my therapy every morning, and one of the only times I have each day to myself.
So, here's how I set up my routine. It's very simple. I'm committed to ten minutes of journaling a day. Yes, I could absolutely do longer, and sometimes I do. But here's the thing: you have to set yourself up for success. So for me, ten minutes is something I know I can do every single day and a short-enough period of time that I will not let myself make any excuses not to do it. Okay, let's be honest. Once in a while I do make excuses and I don't do it, but usually I get it done.
Here's a cool thing. This is kind of silly, but I'm going to share it with you. So I mentioned on a previous episode that I’m meditating ten minutes every morning with the Calm app. Well, when the meditation is done, you still hear the Calm music, which tends to be, like, the ocean, running water, rain, whatever it might be. And so I keep that sound playing, and I go right into my journaling. And something about having that background noise allows me to stay focused at a deeper level. I don't know. Try it. It's been kind of a game changer for me.
So, I have a coach you all know, Corinne Crabtree, and we've been working together for years. We started just working on my weight loss, and we still work on that together. But she's an entrepreneur; I'm an entrepreneur; we talk business all the time in my sessions because so much of my emotional eating or getting off track with eating has to do with things that are going on in my business. So we talk about it all. And she’s been really helpful in pushing me to journal and also holding me accountable, like I mentioned.
So she has this really cool journaling technique called the four Ns—N like Nancy—the four Ns that she recently shared with me, and I want to pass it on to you as well in hopes that it will be a way to help you better observe what's going on inside your mind and how you're reacting to things in the world. So this is all for journaling, okay?
The first N is for notice. The whole point of journaling is to just notice what you're thinking about in any given situation. You want to ask questions that will get your brain willing to respond, like what problem am I trying to solve? What are the things I'm worried about today? Another great way to get your thoughts going and get words on the page is to just make a gratitude list because you want to explore some of the great things that are happening in your life, too. You also could start with your to-do list for the day. Then ask yourself, what are my thoughts about getting this done today? What are the easiest things to do? What are the most important things I could do from this list? Even that's a great way to journal. It doesn't have to be pages upon pages. It can literally be, like, three sentences about what you're thinking. But you just want to notice what's coming up for you.
Now, the second N is to normalize your thinking. Whoo. This is a big one that Corinne keeps coming back to over and over again with me. So, a lot of people are judgmental of their thinking. I am one of them. When they observe their own thoughts, they start saying judgmental things to themselves like, “I'm ridiculous,” or “What's wrong with me?” Like, I'll start out talking to Corinne and say, “Okay, listen. This is terrible. But I was thinking…” She's like, “It's not terrible. We've got to normalize your thinking.” Everyone has thoughts that don't necessarily serve them. It's not weird, and it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of. So in order to normalize your judgmental thoughts, you instead have to give yourself some grace and remind yourself that everybody thinks this at times, or ‘I get why I do that.’ Like, give yourself some grace. And when you do this, it takes the pressure off of journaling, meaning no bad thoughts, anything goes, and it allows you to start taking some authority over this process of getting your thoughts and feelings onto paper.
Now, the third step after you normalize it is to neutralize it. This one’s a big one, too. This is when you take all the inflammatory language out of your thoughts. So instead of thinking and writing, “I'll never be able to grow my business,” you instead want to write something like, “I'm in the process of trying to grow my business.” You want to take everything down a notch. Take a look at the thoughts that you have that are highly charged and highly triggering. Like, sometimes I'll go over my notes at the end. I'll look for adjectives and adverbs and descriptors, and literally cross them out. The goal is to strip your thinking down to a neutral place because it allows you to see more of the fact. When the emotional charge is removed, you're able to start thinking from a clean slate, which is way more productive and so much better for your own mental health.
So, write whatever you want. Remember, step two is we're normalizing it all. Write whatever you want, but then you're going to go back and neutralize some of that language. And again, that example, “I'll never be able to grow my business.” “I'm in the process of trying to grow my business.” We're just neutralizing.
And, then, the fourth N is, what's my next best thought? This one's good. If you're thinking something like, “I'll never be able to build my business,” and then you neutralize that to “I am building a business,” your next best thought might be, “I am doing all the things I need to do or I know to do to build my business right now.” So your next best thought is, like, “I'm in it. I'm doing it. This is happening.”
So this helps you keep some of those negative thoughts from spiraling out of control, which, as you know, is really important for your mindset and for having a productive journaling practice. I don't want you to get to the end of your journaling practice—and I've talked to Corinne about this before, where I just feel bad. I just literally threw up on the page, and I'm journaling all the stuff I’m worried about, frustrated about, having challenges. And I said, “At the end of my journaling, I don't feel like it was cathartic. I feel like I just complained for ten minutes.” So with that, that's why she always takes me back to doing the gratitude to notice what's coming up for me or to, first of all, don't judge, and then neutralize it. And then from there, what else could I think that's going to actually make me feel better? I'm all for that.
So I make sure that I do this practice, especially when I'm having a really hard time, and I put a lot of negativity on the page, which is fine. We’re going to normalize that. But we can also neutralize it. So, something to think about.
So if journaling isn't part of your daily practice right now, I want you to look at your calendar and just schedule ten minutes—that's it—ten minutes to work through this process that I told you about. And it takes some time to get used to, and you don't have to do it for every journaling session. But I really do believe that it makes a huge difference.
And the thing is, here's where I get stuck with journaling and meditation and all of that. For me, if it is not the first thing I do in the morning—meaning I get up, I grab my MUD\WTR—not coffee right now, but my MUD\WTR—and I sit on the couch with Scouty, and I'll allow myself to do a little scrolling on social media or look at the news or whatever I want to do for, like, fifteen, twenty minutes because I get up pretty early, so I kind of need a moment just to wake up. I, then, move directly into meditation and journaling even before I work out, because I can promise you, my day gets away like that, and maybe you can relate. You know, your husband or your spouse says something to you, and it derails you, and you got to go take care of something. You get a phone call. You see an email. Your focus can be zapped like that when the day gets going. So for me, I have to get it done right away before I have any interruptions.
Now, there is one final thing I'd love for you to do, whether you're new to journaling or not. Take out your journal and write down the four Ns on the inside cover or somewhere so you'll see them. So to recap, you’re going to notice, normalize, neutralize, and then next best thought. Easy peasy. So next time you journal, you have all those reminders to help you with your journaling, and you can be as productive as possible.
All right. So, I hope you enjoyed this Shorty episode and found it valuable. And thanks so much for hanging out with me.
Listen, if you have an entrepreneurial friend and you think, “Ooh, they would find this valuable. This might help them get out of that negative thinking that's kind of overtaking them right now,” if they're having a tough time, please grab the link to this episode, text it or email it to a friend. I would greatly appreciate it. I would love to help them in any way possible.
All right, so I'll see you on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. Can't wait.
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