We live in a fast-paced world. Each day millions of ads, apps, and tech fight for our attention. As attention-grabbing tools continue to grow, our attention span (and with that memory and critical thinking capabilities) dwindles.
What were you thinking 3 months ago?
How were you feeling?
What was a lesson you learned in January?
For most of us, these questions bring up blanks. We don’t remember.
If we are not careful, months and years can go by without us retaining any of it.
But there is another way.
There is a way to retain all of your biggest moments, lessons, and thoughts.
Month End Journaling
Using this simple process, I have been able to capture the most important moments and lessons of my life and continue to look back on them to reflect and learn more.
Month End Journaling allows you to actually reflect on the previous month. It gives you space to debrief and put down how you felt, what you learned, and what you did. It captures pivotal moments and small epiphanies.
We have monthly reviews in business, but we rarely sit back and review our own lives. We rarely take the time to reflect and think about ourselves.
With just one hour every month, Month End Journaling allows you to stack your growth, month over month so you can grow exponentially instead of linearly.
So how do you do month end journaling? What’s the best process for it? Below is my entire process for how I do my monthly reflection using Month End Journaling.
How to get the most out of your month end journaling:
1. Create the time and space for a great journaling session
a. Schedule an hour for your journaling on the last day of every month.
i. I have this as a recurring event in my calendar so it is literally scheduled in every month. Any other meeting or call that day gets scheduled around this reflection time.
b. Go to a quiet place, ideally free from people who would distract you
i. I like to get out of the office for this. I have gone to the beach or a park before. I also frequently go to local coffee shops that have great vibes. Once I am there, I put my phone in my bookbag, turn off Slack, and close emails.
2. Start the process by reading through the entire month’s notes, journal entries, and book notes.
a. I do morning pages and gratefuls every day, so I take a few minutes to read through all of these. When you do this, you will start to see patterns in topics, emotions, and thoughts. These can be really enlightening and bring up a lot of insights.
b. I take notes at every meeting I attend and with every book I read (all captured on Evernote), so I take a few minutes and read these as well. This serves two purposes: 1 It forces me to re-read book and meeting notes which helps me retain the information and reminds me of lessons I may have already forgotten. 2 You once again see patterns in the topics, emotions, and thought processes you had during this month.
3. Now that you have created space and read all of your notes from last month, it is time to start my journaling. Below is my outline for my Month End Journaling
Capture where you are while writing. This is interesting to look back on when you read this years later. It also transports you back to the moment you wrote this journal entry. It’s cool to see some entries that occurred during trips or even at parks near previous homes I lived in.
b. Current Intentions
What are your intentions for that quarter, month, or year? This reminds you of them on a monthly basis and forces you to analyze if you are living them or not. My intentions for the year are Mindfulness, Go-giving, Essentialism, and Financial growth.
c. Books read
What books did you read this month? I also include a quick review of them.
d. Habits ongoing
What habits do you have at the time of writing the entry? These could be meditating daily, lifting weights 5 times a week, journaling, running, waking up at 5 am, etc. This once again allows you to reflect on all the habits you have and highlights some habits you may want to add or remove. Seeing your positive habits stack as you continue to grow is really fulfilling. Seeing what habits you had 3 years ago is really humbling.
e. Top Quotes
During the month, I jot down great quotes I hear. During my month end journaling, I capture all of them so I can look back on them in an organized way. This could be from books, podcasts, talks with friends, or even my own thoughts.
f. Big events
Write down all the big events of the month. Did you go on a trip? Did you get engaged? Did you surf for the first time? Anything you deem as big or worth remembering, put it here! This is just a bullet point list.
g. Lessons learned
What were the lessons you learned this month? Big or small capture them here. Did you learn how to do a handstand? Did you have a spiritual breakthrough? Did you have a failure in business that you learned from? This may be the most important part of the journaling as it allows you to capture, in one place, all the lessons you learned. Going back and reading these through the months shows you how much you have learned, and reminds you of key insights you may have forgotten.
These are usually bullet points with explanations behind them.
h. Reflection on the month
The last section. This is a free-form journal entry reflecting on the month. What were your subjective feelings about the month? Was it a great month? A rough month? I tend to find themes in my months “This was a month of extreme spiritual growth.” “This was a month of execution as I put my head down and grinded.”
This section is usually 1 – 3 paragraphs.
Here is a screenshot of the template I have saved in Evernote.
All of this takes me about an hour.
And it is one of the most important hours of my month.
It gives me a chance to really sit back, get out of the day to day, and think about my last month. It allows me to catch my breath and think critically about the last month.
It’s a time to give myself a pat on the back for the growth I had, analyze the mistakes I made, and be grateful for all of the amazing gifts I received that month (even the gift of living for another month).
Try it this week. It doesn’t have to be the last day or the first day of the month to get started.
Create some space, reflect on your month, journal it.
You’ll be surprised by just how much last month’s you can teach you.
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