Journal Work: Three Tools for Instant Problem Solving


If you’ve never imagined that your journal could help you solve problems, then you might change your mind because in this post, I share three simple tools for problem solving with your journal.

That’s right: three really simple tools that really work.

Are you ready? Great. Let’s go then.

Quick Background:

Besides the yoga mat and meditation cushion, my journal is the place where I work on myself. It’s where I come face to face with the stuff that isn’t moving, the sludge, the ugly emotions, the fat, bloated ickyness of life. The following three tools are things that I use regularly to overcome stuckness, to increase motivation, to understand myself, to understand a problem, to define an outcome that’s unclear.

Tool 1: Just Three Things

Useful for: motivation and procrastination, instant energy.

Method: Think of the thing that you want to achieve or do that’s making you feel stuck. Now, write down three actions that you can do –each of which should take you two minutes or less to accomplish- that you can start doing immediately. That’s right: three tiny, wheeny little tasks.

Got three actions you can do in the next six minutes? Good. I knew you could do it.

Now, go and do them and then come back to your journal and tick them off once they’re done.

Guess what? You’re not so stuck anymore, are you? And I bet you’re already noticing the difference inside.

Tool 2: Life Coach in a Box

Useful for: understanding problems, ideas or emotions that are unclear

Method: Take a fresh line in your journal. Write down the question: What is the problem?

If you’re a corporate type, answer in dot points, a creative/academic type, use a sentence. The shape of the answer is up to you, what is most important here is to get your problem out of your head and onto the paper or computer screen.

Next, re-read your problem as it sits in type or handwriting in front of you. Really stare at it, out there, in front of your nose.  Now, I want you to write down the following question: How could X (the problem) be solved?

Done that? Ok. Set your watch, and give yourself 2 minutes to come up with as many answers to this question as you can. Make these answers as outrageous and unlikely as you possibly can. Just try and get lots of them down in the next 2 minutes.

For example, if your question is: How can I find the money to buy a new car? One answer might be: win the lottery, another might be: a kind stranger just gives me one. Yet another might be: aliens gave me one. The point is that by getting the problem out on paper (or computer screen) and getting your creativity working on it, you’re going to generate ideas.

Sure, aliens are unlikely to give you a new car, but I can guarantee that there will be at least two or three answers that start you thinking OUTSIDE OF THE SQUARE. Which is what this exercise is all about: thinking laterally and proactively, rather than engaging in a hell of a lot of internal wallowing that isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Tool 3: Internal Clutterbusting

NB. Be warned. Don’t use this tool unless you want life-changing results.

Useful for: Gut-worrying problems, life-size problems, identifying and clearing what’s holding you back

Method: Open your journal and write this down: If I released (let go of) X, I’d be happy. What is your X? Now, answer the question. What is your X?

What is it that if you let go of it from your life, would make you instantly happy AND clear the space for something new and wonderful to enter your life?

I’d like to thank the team at Action Podcast (and liveknowingthis) for introducing me to this amazing tool. If you’d like to hear a complete podcast about this tool, click this link. Visit Allison, the self-proclaimed self-help evangelist here at the liveknowingthis link above.

Please test these tools out using your journal and email me or leave a comment letting me know whether you found them useful or not. I love recieving comments and feedback and always appreciate you because you’ve bothered to visit my site.


3 thoughts on “Journal Work: Three Tools for Instant Problem Solving

  1. Hey thanks, Stella.

    I’ve had a couple of coaching sessions with Paul & Sam and I thoroughly recommend them. The podcasts are lots of fun, too.

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