I used to hear a lot of my peers in peak performance say how much difference keeping a journal of their thoughts made in their constant attempt to learn and improve. In fact, I still hear them say it AND I’m hearing more and more top athletes, business leaders, coaches, TV personalities and celebrities say the same thing.
I’ve been keeping a journal for years now and I never cease to be amazed at the simple and profound impact it has on my ability to stay on the top of my game.
What is it about writing down your thoughts?
Here are my thoughts, in writing:
- Your brain is crap at organizing. Have you ever had a really poor night’s sleep because your mind is in overdrive trying to plan out your next few days or solve your problems? You just end up in circular thoughts for hours and still aren’t clear on what to do next, when it could take 5 minutes on paper. It’s the same when reflecting on lessons learned from past races or training sessions. Once it’s out of that mental tornado, it becomes as clear as a sunny day.
- Positive emotions are amplified. When you capture your great things on paper — e.g. how strong you felt at the end of the session, your pride in sticking to the workout when you were tired, your memories of overcoming big obstacles the year before — it’s like hearing it from someone else. As if your coach, or competitor or friend gives you big props for doing so well.
- Negative emotions are flattened. Our minds often blow things out of proportion and unfortunately for us humans, we tend to blow the negative stuff much bigger than the positives. But when you have a less-than-expected result in a race, feeling a dip on confidence, or stressing over aches and pains, and you write down what you learned from that, it’s amazing how quickly the hurt goes away and you can move on to better days.
- You accelerate your success. I’ll avoid going into deep science but the research is clear: when you write down your thoughts and goals, your subconscious mind takes this as an instruction to take action, boost your motivation and put a higher priority on making that goal a reality. Personally, I’ve seen this many times when I look back on past journal entries, and what was a passing thought at the time, has become an entrenched habit in making my training sessions more intense and progressive.
If you’re serious about getting better and better in triathlons, I urge you to start a journal for your inner game. Not just one to track your training stats, but more critically your thoughts and emotions, your insights on what’s working for you and what’s not, what you need to do more of to be at your best more consistently.
You’ll be amazed at the benefit you get from this, and the faster you’ll make progress on achieving your potential.