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Write Your Story: Tapping into world’s greatest mining tool

In early 1848, the entire population of settlers across all of California would fit in a moderate sized high school gym, numbering less than 1,000 people. By the end of the following year, that figure grew exponentially, exceeding 100,000 people. What happened and what does it have to do with our health, wellness & performance? That’s exactly what we’ll be digging into in this special episode.

Welcome to the Catalyst 360 Podcast – your trusted source for engaging, evidence-based and practical health, wellness & performance insights. I’m your host, Dr. Brad Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute and today we’re going to talk about how to tap into the world’s greatest mining tool, as we write and re-write our stories.

On January 24, 1848, carpenter James Wilson Marshall, was digging up ground to build a water-powered sawmill owned by John Sutter. Sutter’s Mill eventually became recognized as ground zero for the California gold rush that rapidly grew the population of California and their entry into the union as the 31st state. So what does that have to do with us? Because today we’re going to discuss what many believe to be the world’s greatest mining tool – your journal.

I get it. Journaling can feel like old news. We did a survey of health & wellness coaches about journaling. Summary? 96% said it’s important/valuable but 91% of those individuals said it just doesn’t happen consistently. Basically our survey told us journaling is like flossing our teeth… or exercise… or eating our vegetables… or limiting afternoon caffeine… or turning off phone and going to bed… or any of the hundreds of things coaches help clients integrate into their lives! Yet 96% of COACHES said – “yup – journaling? Flossing? Same thing.”

So let’s start with this: There will be No ”should” or guilt included in this discussion – only opportunity and practical ideas that just like those early miners, you can take to the bank. Over the next few minutes, I’m going to share with you how to activate the magnet of journaling… tap into why our story is so important – and the opportunity journaling provides to re-write that story…discuss various strategies for making the process fit YOU… and provide some tips for getting started. We’re releasing this episode the week of Thanksgiving, as the weeks between now and the new year are often the catalyst for considering more deeply the way in which we’re living our lives. It’s my hope this special episode provides you with a valuable tool for doing so as you move forward. If you have a journal or notebook handy while you’re listening, I’ll be providing you with a few things to consider with pen in hand along the way.

As always, if you’re at a place in your life where you’re considering pursuing your coaching certification, the next NBHWC-approved cohort kicks off in late January but you also have the option of getting an early start if you’d like. Reach out to us anytime – and we can talk through any questions you may have about the process or it’s fit for your future career or life plans. And – if you’re part of an organization looking to stop asking your employees to check a bunch of health & wellness boxes and instead want to help them fill those boxes, let’s talk about potential strategies. when you’re ready. Now – let’s dig into the what might just be the world’s greatest mining tool here on the latest episode of the Catalyst 360 Podcast!

Stages of change (PROCHASKA interview story): precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and relapse

  • Consider your current spot this evening w/ journaling? Perhaps make a note to check in w/ yourself on where you are in an hour, a day, and next week when back home in routine…

Activate the magnet – Value of journaling- 10 items

  1. Slows us down
  2. REFLECTION (traded reflecting for “swiping”) – studies indicate we have 500,000 thoughts/day. Thoughts are happening all the time like breathing and digestion. “Thinking” only becomes an active process through reflection.
    1. “Decision fatigue” (we don’t deal w/ thoughts – just stuff them in junk drawer until drawer is overflowing. In life, overflowing junk drawer keeps us from thinking clearly)
    2. Study on mis-information or conspiracy theories showed NO change in opinion when presented with 10 proofs… or 7… or 5. Only when 3 or less because >3 we default to our previous opinion. What happens when you have 500,000 thoughts/day yourself?!? Stay the course with same ol’ same ol’
  3. Therapeutic – helps deal with anxiety, regret, grief
  4. Clarifies thoughts – and IMPROVES SLEEP
  5. Solves problems – sometimes as result of creating dialogue with our subconscious
    1. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” — Leslie Lamport (computer genius who’s bio is even hard to fathom)
  6. Sharpens memory (e.g., capturing key thoughts from books/articles when reading)
  7. Goal driver
  8. Improves mood
    1. Brings reality into my tendency for downward cycle when things going bad
    2. Brings potential next action steps to forefront when flying high (outlet to collect ideas)
  9. Cultivates mindfulness
  10. Teaches us about ourselves – and our perspectives about others

STEP 1 – The Why (5 minutes)- Open journal. Write today’s date. Write 3 reasons you’d like to integrate journaling into your life in SOME way. No commitments. Just ask yourself – “why does this matter to me?” and jot down what comes to mind. Or jot a bunch down and then circle top 3.

Fav question when meeting “soon to be friends”: What’s your story?? (tone is important). Gives person chance to share their fav version – just as we get to do in our journal. What story are you writing? (Victim? Villian? Compassionate Hero?) Comes to life as we write – and WE write it!!

Maybe need to start by ending previous story w/ 2 simple words: The End.

Then Bruce Feiler – “Once upon a time” – sets the stage for adventure that WE write.

Journalers of note: World changers – Catalysts. That’s us – that’s you! Seeing ourselves mimicking?

  • Marie Curie (the “Mother of Modern Physics”)
  • Leonardo DaVinci
  • Mark Twain
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Anne Frank
  • Charles Darwin
  • Thomas Edison

There is a greatness inside of EVERY SINGLE PERSON in this room. But that greatness is stuck. It’s stuck between here and here (Petrous bone – most dense bone of the body – part of the Temporal bone of the skull where we point to our temples). Petrous comes from the Latin word petrosus, meaning “stone-like, hard”. Your greatness stuck between 2 hardest bones of body!

We’re going to mine that — Journaling can be viewed as the world’s most valuable mining tool – allowing us to excavate the greatness inside of each one of us – the fuel for making a difference in the world. Or maybe – before we can do any mining or harvesting of the garden, we need to clear the junk. Journaling allows for both.

Step 2 – Adding to the Why. What is world missing out on because of all that has remained undiscovered/unrevealed inside of me? Or what junk is cluttering my garden and delaying the harvesting process?

Various strategies (you might want to write a few of these down that resonate for later). What works for 1 person not the same as for another – just like exercise/fueling)

  • Use as “net” to capture ideas from podcasts/books/movies/experiences/quotes or “interesting people” you meet for coffee
  • Don’t Journal! (see my blog post) – similar to “don’t commit to run or walk. Just commit to put on running shoes and go to end of driveway to see what happens.”
  • Schedule time or “to do” 1-4x/wk
  • Different colors (one for thoughts, one for discoveries, one for struggles…)
    • Artistic – colored pens, stickers, drawings, scribbles
  • Layout – left side for ideas, quotes, discoveries. Right side for thoughts, struggles, memories
  • Steve Magness mini notebook when walking
  • Gratitude list/thoughts
  • Create a “Vision Section” in journal- jot down ideas/scribble pics to develop your personal vision

Getting started – NOT because I “should” but because of all it will bring into my life and my coaching

  • Steve Martin – “First – get a million dollars” –-> “1st – get a journal”
  • Have list of go-to Prompts readily available. Examples
    • What brings you joy/lights up your eyes?
    • What drains you and what sits at the core of that?
    • What would a great day look like? (No “fine” allowed)
    • Describe a dream goal you might be afraid to share with anyone else
    • Pick out person in your life and write all the reasons you love them
    • Journal about a significant memory from childhood.
    • Create a self-portrait using words and/or images.
    • Journal about the various roles you play in daily life.
    • Letter to younger self about what to do when she gets to this moment in time (or older self about who is the person you look to become – VISION catalyst)
    • What lessons have you learned in the past 12 months? (12 hours, 12 days, etc)
  • What works for you in other areas of your life like exercise, eating, etc)? (mentioned my adding to calendar 3x/wk was gamechanger)
  • Consistent time/place (note: “consistent” may just be certain # of times/week. I’ve been journaling 3x/wk for the past year but rarely the same 3 days)
  • It’s YOUR journal. There is no Journal Rule Book – You make the rules!

Why journal – clarity, as with anything, drives consistency. Some of my “why’s” include

    • Wishing I understood parents better and want our kids to someday have option of looking through my thoughts, ideas, etc after I’m long gone
    • Catalyst to build silent reflection into my daily routine
    • Clarifies thoughts/emotions when I write (and often “think by writing” so brings together random thoughts/ideas into actionable or at least understandable concepts)
    • Learn through this thing called life
    • Lessons learned while writing –
      • Patterns discovered(Examples from my teens/20’s that sound like now)
      • History documented/relived
      • Family history pre-social media
      • Clarifies thoughts
      • How often do you have a thought rolling around in your head that seems completely rational UNTIL YOU SAY IT OUT LOUD?!? Journaling is level deeper in clarifying thoughts. Rationalization much stronger in heads than on paper 😊

Step 3– where do you see a value for journaling in your own life? What are some of the key initial steps that would be most important to you moving forward?

If you visit my office here at the Catalyst Ranch in Ft. Collins, CO, you’ll see about 2 dozen forms of “journals” lining my bookshelf. I wish I could tell you I’d consistently applied this mining tool throughout my 56 years of life, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The reality is I was very dedicated throughout my college years but then fell off considerably in the years that followed. Only in recent years has this personal mining tool re-established itself into my life, with significant dividends. My hope for you is that something shared in this special episode provided a spark, a view of hidden gold in the corner of your eye that nudges this incredible tool – in whatever form works best for YOU – onto, or back onto your radar screen as you move forward.

Thank you for joining us for this special episode of the Catalyst 360 podcast. It’s an honor spending a few minutes of our week together and we cannot tell you how much we appreciate you as our listeners as we travel this journey of life together. This is Dr. Brad Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute – now it’s time to be a catalyst – writing and living out a story worth reading…

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