Journaling 101: How I Got Started and What Can You Journal About


 Photo credit: Kaizen Journaling

You either journal or you don’t. And if you don’t, it is likely you would very much like to develop the habit. There is something very attractive about the idea of putting down our innermost thoughts, feelings and desires to paper. It somehow leaves us more enriched and gives our busy day a neat conclusion.
Journaling impacted me early on. Adventurous and resourceful characters like Doogie Howser, the teenage physician and the inimitable Mr. Belvedere ended their day with their musings. Sometimes profound, sometimes witty, their entries always brought a smile to my lips.
And who can forget the ‘Captain Log’ maintained by Starfleet officer Jean Luc Picard. The truth is, from Benjamin Franklin to the solitary genius Leornardo Di Caprio; great men and women have frequently maintained journals (or diaries) to self-reflect.

The allure of a journal

Journaling is sacred time. Something about the idea of distancing oneself from hustle and bustle to write about the day gone by is romantic to say the least. It makes one feel spiritually sophisticated.

I am no different. I have repeatedly tried to establish some sort of ‘me’ time routine. I have used physical diaries and digital notepads. I have written heaps and I have practised brevity. But something has always thrown a wrench in the works. I have started strong and then lost my momentum bringing my grand journaling plans to a grinding halt. Until recently that is…

Thankfully stepping into this brand new year I have been a good little journaling boy scout for more than 40 days. And you know what they say about forming a new habit. All it takes is 3-4 weeks. : )
So I understand it may be easy to just ‘let it slip’. After all no one is likely to pay you for your efforts or have a life changing epiphany thanks to your musings. But the steady habit of journaling matters. And you will see why.

What took me so long?

Now that I realize the benefits of maintaining a regular journal, I do wish I could have started much earlier. I believe that the trio of these pitfalls held me back:

– No fixed ‘journaling’ routine. It had always been an ‘as and when I get time’ affair.
– No guidelines as to what I should write about. I thought journaling stands for keeping a log of monumental events. What if there was nothing significant to commit to paper? Then what?
– No nagging feeling of loss if I didn’t journal. It was a ‘cool’ thing to do with some vague rewards attached. I didn’t really have the genuine impetus to do it.

From erratic to consistent

Consistency came when I understood the true importance of maintaining a diary as it pertains to my life. And the potential losses if I didn’t stick to the routine! It was quite a self-revelation. Incidentally a little plugin had a lot to do with it.

• I gave myself the gift of time when I installed the Gmail Pause plugin! If you do not know what it is capable of doing, you need to read this post by Ali. Trust me it will completely get rid of your wasteful email obsession.

• Naturally without ‘mail addiction’ I could think straight. I focused on my life and my habits in particular. I have always been an advocate of being productive. So I am no stranger to the importance of a morning ritual. Well considering our lifestyle of stress and competition, I think it is equally important to ‘calm’ and ‘relax’ oneself with a familiar ritual before winding down for the night. Leo Babuta talks about it in his book ‘The Power of Less’.

The philosophy hit home! I was so used to dancing to the tune of my inbox. Checking mails and surfing the web incessantly and then scrambling to get a pending ‘to-do’ task done! Needless to say, I would be utterly exhausted by the time my head hit the pillow. And that isn’t a nice feeling. However thanks to the trusty Gmail Pause application, my day now closes with the simple three step ritual:

– Checking my ‘To-Do’ list for the last few pending tasks I can attend.
– Either completing them or deferring them for the date I can attend to them.
– Then settling in with my journaling

With a definite ‘when’ one part of the trifecta that kept derailing me was eliminated.

• The next two also disappeared when I stumbled upon this beautiful quote from ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learned while editing my life’ by Donald Miller.

“THE SADDEST THING about life is you don’t remember half of it. You don’t even remember half of half of it. Not even a tiny percentage, if you want to know the truth. I have this friend Bob who writes down everything he remembers. If he remembers dropping an ice cream cone on his lap when he was seven, he’ll write it down. The last time I talked to Bob, he had written more than five hundred pages of memories. He’s the only guy I know who remembers his life. He said he captures memories, because if he forgets them, it’s as though they didn’t happen; it’s as though he hadn’t lived the parts he doesn’t remember.”

It is painfully true. I remember only a handful of high tension, high emotion highlights of my life. The hundreds of tiny incidents which have shaped me as a man have been rubbed clean from my mental slate. I decided then and there that I wanted to retain more of what I was doing and the impact I was creating on my family and society. And before I knew it, the desire to journal had crystallized into determination.

What to journal about?

The things that make you happy and grateful! Journaling is giving your memories a permanent home. It is a ‘vehicle for mindfulness’. It doesn’t matter how bland or eventful the day was, write down anything and everything you want to recall. The big and the small. What did you learn today? Did you have a moment of bliss? Who made you smile? Journal randomly!
Or if that seems to go against your nature, you can rely on Michael Hyatt’s template.

Journal for yourself and yourself only:

Written by Todd Henry, The Accidental Creative is the handbook for being brilliant. And you can borrow from it to grow the much needed journalling confidence. Many of us shrink away from this great tool just because we feel we can’t create ‘publish’ worthy work. Guess what? You aren’t going to share your journal with the world. Because if you do, you may start moderating your own feelings and experiences! Journaling is the mask of anonymity you wear to shout out the truth. Keep it that way.
Following The Accidental Creative principles, I tend to:
• Write fast and without too much preparation to allow my natural style to shine through.
• Work against a time limit! Don’t sit with a blank page for hours. Urgency is important. At least when you are forming your habit. As you evolve into a journaling pro, you can break the rules.
• Write the way I think. I do not try and channel my favourite author. It’s just my voice walking me through another precious day I may like to remember 5 years down the line.

What you write isn’t important. Simply writing is!

Charles Duhigg, author of ‘The Power of Habit‘ says something really powerful. He tells us that writing a thought, is far more important than the actual words used. The mere fact that you take time out to put your words down, even if they are just partially relevant, strengthens recall of feelings and memories at a later date.
So if have had an emotional and stressful day and in your journal you simply jot “emotional and stressful” and nothing else,  those three words can still help you remember the details that would otherwise be lost forever.

Journalling is an act of closure. It gives you a sense of peace and some beautiful moments to look back upon. So when are you going to start? The best time was 20 years ago. The next best is right now!


What do British Airways, Finnair and Lufthansa have in common?

They’re all courting and wooing Indians!

First it was the hostesses at British Airways Airlines who joined their hands to greet us in a namaste. The Fins took it a step further and did an entire dance in celebration of Indian Republic Day. Lastly, Luftansa joined the bandwagon, assuring us that they are “more Indian than you think”.

Gosh, not sure what to make of it. It’s flattering nonetheless. Anyway, have a look at the below promotions of the three airlines:

Why I love ILM Montessori

Our glowing signboard

Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford, is inspiring. I’ve watched it a couple of times. A line that stood out for me is when Steve says, “I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life.”

Well friends, now, I’ve gotten lucky too.

Since December 2012, I have involved myself in a passionate project. A project that has taken over every single waking moment. This is not like the flings that I have had in the past. In fact it’s like falling in love all over again. It’s deeper than that. It’s love with a purpose, a higher purpose.

Oh how much I love learning and how much I love teaching. I’ve covered the walls of my office with books. I’m constantly consuming content. While having lunch, or driving to work even when working out at my gym, I’m always listening or watching a lecture (an occasional movie). (On a side note, these days, I use several techniques, tips, tricks to speed up the rate of which I consume material, but that’s a story for another blog post).

It’s when I’m learning that I am the happiest. The only thing that makes me happier than gobbling up books and videos, is by serving content instead. Hence, I love writing,I love drawing and i love delivering the occasional speech too.

Schooling was a dream project since…since…well since I was in school. As a school boy, I remember overseeing my principal making the bus schedule and I was mentally making notes on how he was going about it.

Even today, walking through any school hallways, observing classrooms I’m in awe. The transformation that’s taking place in classrooms. In every class, there’s the teacher. Impacting the the lives of generations.

Life gifted me with amazing teachers. (Even today God has blessed me with an amazing teacher/mentor). The golden lessons I learnt at school then, I teach my kids today. While whispering a silent prayer to my educators.

Launching ILM Montessori:

An impulsive phone call led myself and seven other also passionate friends to get into a conference room. This was around the Christmas of 2012.

We poured our hearts out at one marathon meeting after another. Week after week, midnight after midnight, we clarified our vision. We went to the depths of the question why we wanted to start a school in the first place. We finally were as specific as we could be to what we wanted and what we didn’t.

We had clarity, took the plunge and committed to a property where our children would study. Our dream was on its way to become reality. And as of today, it’s turning out way better than we had imagined!

With tremouondous excitement and a fair dollop of nervousness we launched ILM Montessori and began our academic year on 18 June 2012. It has been heaven since then.

Our Journey so far:
We’ve been documenting our journey at our blog. Here are some of our high points:

We hosted the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art exams
– We received heart-warming testimonials from our parents. Watch them here.
– We’ve documented our learnings into our hit report. How to select a Preschool for your child.
– Currently we are preparing and rehearsing for our Annual day celebration.

Why I love ILM Montessori

Gosh, I love this project.  However, it’s not always been smooth sailing.  We’ve had our share of downs.  But even when setbacks hit, we do what it takes to get up and get rolling again. I often reflect why am I so attached to this project/venture then others.  Clear reasons surface.

1. The purity and selflessness at ILM Montessori: One of the reasons why we wanted to start our own school is because of the rampant commercialisation of education. In a commercial educational venture there’s always the possibility of self-interest taking over the interest of the school or children. ILM Montessori is a non-profit venture. The trustees have no profitable stake in it whatsoever. So why are we still so involved, it’s not for they money, it’s because we are in love with ILM. We do charge close to commercial rates. We do that so we can give our savings back to the school in terms of better salaries, better infrastructure and better facilities.

2. Working with an amazing diverse group:
Working with our group of Trustees. Every meeting of ours I feel even more motivated and charged towards the project. My daughter studies at ILM Montessori. She does so because I want to put her in a school where it is these people who are in charge. I have complete confidence in their integrity, sincerity and passion. There’s magic when working with a group of skilled, motivated, sincere individuals. At times that’s all on needs. Other perks begin to seem trivial.

3. The immense intangible reward of the project itself:
During my day job I’m involved with a team to create and sell homes and office spaces. Seeing a real-estate project come to life has it’s thrills. But it’s no comparison against crafting beautiful minds, shaping purposeful lives and working on changing the world for a better tomorrow. As I’ve mentioned, I have had amazing teachers. I can do the things that I do, because of my teachers. I am the person I am, because of my teachers. Here’s a chance for me to be part of that great tradition and help give a little back.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones:

To paraphrase another Steve Jobs quote. In one of his last ever interviews Steve speaks about the secret of success.

He says if you look at those who have been successful, a quality that they all have is that they are insanely passionate about what they do. That passion helps them when the going gets tough. Because when things are really difficult, a sane person would do the most obvious natural expected thing. He would quit. Why, because he is sane.

It’s the crazy passionate individual who pushes through. Because he’s not in it for the money. He’s not it for they glory. He’s doing it because that’s all that he loves doing. It is he who is often successful.

We’re open for Admissions:

We started our school with just Pre-Primary. Now, in the forthcoming academic year we are beginning the Primary section of our school. We’re great believers in the beauty and elegance of the Montessori system. For the first three Primary years we will continue to follow the Montessori methodology. Do wish us luck and Please pray for our success.

Visit our Blog here to see what we’ve been upto at ILM Montessori:
Do Like our Facebook Page here:
You can download a pdf of our brochure here:

Finally, I’ve included a few pics from our photo gallery below.
Have a glimpse of our wonderful ILM Montessori:


ILM Boys having a Great time!

Girls just wanna have fun!

This year… make things happen!

“Getting things done is not the same as making things happen.

You can…
…reply to email.
…pay the bills.
…cross off to-do’s.
…fulfil your obligation.
…repeat what you heard.
…go with the flow.
…anticipate roadblocks.
…aim for “good enough.”

Or you can…
…organise a community.
…take a risk.
…set ambitious goals.
…give more than you take.
…change perceptions.
…forge a new path.
…create possibility.
…demand excellence.

Don’t worry too much about getting things done.
Make things happen.”
~ Gina Trapani (Lifehacker)

Read more brilliant and inspiring stuff in the ebook, What Matters Now (pdf).

Ps. Have trouble finding your passion?  Make sure you catch Derek Sivers note on Passion on page 51.

Now that’s Advertising!

I’ve been an advertising buff all my life.  I’ve commented on some nasty ads here and here.  And shared some sparklers here, here,  here and here.

Most ads speak about the greatness of their products.  Not this ad.  Yet I’m convinced to try it out.  And they executed the ad in under 15 seconds, with just one actor and a minimalist set.  Now that’s advertising!






Here are some solid ad headlines:

Feared by more people than ever before.
Your cough won’t know what hit it, neither will you.
Made with oil of Pine needles. What did you expect it to taste like?
People swear by it. And at it.
Our largest bottle is 200 ml. Anything more would be cruel.
Not new. Not improved.
How bad does it taste? That depends. How bad is your cough?
Unfortunately, adding DM doesn’t make it taste any better.
I’m dedicated to ensuring every new batch of Buckley’s tastes as bad as the last.
Four of the most dreaded words in the English language: “Get out the Buckley’s!”
I have recurring nightmares in which someone gives me a taste of my own medicine.
Since 1919, we’ve been leaving Canadians with a bad taste in their mouths
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