When it comes to live theatre plays, great performances almost always start with a script. Without the script there is no play. There is no story. There is no performance. And if each of our lives were plays, where is our script? The beautiful thing about life is that we get to create the script.
You are the writer of your life. You choose your destiny. You are also the actor and the director. You write, direct, and act. Only you can do it for you. Other people can plan out your life but ultimately it is your life. That responsibility has to fall upon you. Not your boss, not your parents, you. So own it.
If Life is a Play, Where’s the Script?
Planning out my life and taking actions toward those plans can be difficult at times. However, I have come to discover and rely on an important tool that I consider to be my life script: my journal.
I have been journaling about my life for the last thirteen years, off and on. My journal has helped contribute to who I am more than anything else. Sure there are several people and influences that have shaped my life, but the ideas and inspirations that stuck happened to do so because I intentionally “stuck” them in my journal.
Additionally, I have written down goals and achieved goals. Just as an actor first reads how the story unfolds entirely before performing it on stage, I write the “story” in my journal in the form of goals and then take action toward those goals.
Currently, I journal in two different journal formats, physical and digital.
First journal format: physical – a hardcover or leather bound journal
Currently I keep a basic hardcover physical journal. These come as leather bound, moleskine, and other nice hardcover journals.
My journal goes with me nearly everywhere I go: work, conferences, workshops, sermons, classes, study groups, etc. I capture ideas in my journal. These ideas help to shape my life. If it’s a really profound idea that can maybe help me to better a relationship, improve my work life, or maybe it’s a positive insight that challenges my mindset, I write it down. Later, I meditate on these ideas.
This journal is also VERY handy for doodling during boring conferences or sermons that don’t quite grab my attention. This is good because doodling improves your comprehension and creativity. I doodle until an idea comes up and then I capture it.
Not all ideas are life changing. Sometimes just writing down an idea that needs to go into the TO DO list will help unload the brain in order to focus on the conversation or topic at hand. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, will attest that clearing out the brain is great for focus and clarity. A physical journal is perfect for that when you are looking to get some serious learning done at a conference.
Morning routine with my hardcover journal
In the morning, I wake up and the first thing I do is meditate for a few minutes, then I read a book (currently, I read the Bible and Unique Ability). The books I read during my morning routine are about wisdom, skills I’m trying to develop, or motivational material. As I’m reading through my book, I am attentive to anything that speaks to me profoundly. In fact, I read until something really jumps off the page. And then I write the phrase from the book that encapsulates the thought. I then reflect on it and journal about a paragraph of how I can apply this new found wisdom to my life.
This starts my day off right. Throughout the day, I am expecting good things to happen because it’s during this time that I form new ideas, I set new goals, I declare things into my life. For example, “I declare that I can overcome this specific obstacle in my life right now.”
Why I use a hardcover journal
I like to buy hardcover journals. These don’t have to be expensive, they just need to be journals. I steer away from binder paper, spiral bound notebooks, and composition notebooks for two reasons.
1) A hardcover journal helps me take the content I write more seriously
If I spend $10, $20, or $30 on a journal, I am motivated to make sure there’s at least the dollar amount worth of information going into that journal. I just ask myself, if this journal was published, would someone buy the information in it for at least what I paid for it?
2) It’s classy as opposed to tacky
When I’m in meetings or at church or at a conference, sometimes people will glance over at what I’m doing. A leather bound journal is more widely accepted than a standard spiral notebook. Hardcover is just classy. It subtly says, “I take my life seriously.”
Second journal format: Digital
The second type of journal that I write in is digital. When I say digital I mean that I write on my computer or smartphone.
A journal on the web isn’t necessarily a public blog or social media
This is not to be confused with social media (like Facebook) or an online blog. Though none of these are wrong, they are not as appropriate as scripts for your life as a private journal.
In theatre, a script is not shared with the audience in its first draft and second draft formats. It is only shared with the audience in its final draft format when it is played out in a play. So metaphorically speaking, writing down an idea for the first time might be like a first draft, setting a goal might be a second draft, living it out might be a finished work.
Besides, there is something freeing with being able to plan out my life aside from social media without other people commenting and judging my choices and thoughts. In writing the script of my life, I keep this private.
Evernote as a digital journal
A good private journal tool is Evernote. I use Evernote to write the majority of my digital journal content. Evernote is a pretty amazing program that is synced across devices as well as the internet. That means you can write in it offline or online, on your computer or on your phone or tablet. And it’s free.
Evernote can do a lot but I believe it to be the best digital journal ever (no pun intended). Like with my physical journal if I need to write down a quick on-the-go note about something that needs to happen, I can write it in Evernote and categorize it as “To-Do” then come back to it later.
Evernote also allows me to organize information into various virtual notebooks. Though I keep variety of notebooks on different topics, there is one notebook in Evernote that I favor above the rest.
Journaling toward a major goal
One of my Evernote notebooks only has information surrounding a specific goal.
Someday I would like to own a business that provides a sustainable income. This would mean that I would need to become an entrepreneur. I write in this journal every single day, without fail, toward this goal. This particular virtual notebook journal is a priority. If I’m not making progress toward my major goal, then I’m backsliding in life.
I use this journal as the script of my future. There are dreams, goals, aspirations, as well as stories, progress and my thought process along the way. This is a private journal that I don’t care to share with anyone, at least not now. If I were to rate the importance of this journal from 1-10, I would give it a 10! I write to hold myself accountable. It’s this journal that gives me the greatest motivation to keep pushing forward because I choose to make it motivating.
If I don’t plan my life and write my own script, who will? If I am brutally honest to answer that question, this is who will write my life if I don’t: my parents, my employer, the government, people looking to take advantage of me. The responsibility to write my life should fall only on me. Each and every one of us was given the gift of free will. That means we are the writers of our own lives. If we don’t plan our lives and intentionally create a story out of it with challenges and excitement, we are only selling ourselves short.
My journals make up the script for my life. If you were to read through all of them as a whole, you would see much of what I’ve done as well as much of what I plan to do. My journals give me the mental capacity to think and reflect in such a way that allows me to take specific next steps and not drift throughout life. When I write my script for the next seasons of my life, I cannot help but choose to write as a better husband, a friend, a better employee, a better person.