The morning following being admitted to the hospital I was waiting to have an MRI done to understand why the seizures had happened the previous night. I couldn’t move my shoulders, though I could move my wrists. The medical team didn’t know yet that I had a brain tumor or that I had dislocated and fractured both shoulders.
I opened the Facebook app on my phone, posting the following status update:
I never expected that from that status update I would begin publishing a daily update of this journey.
Facebook Updates Turn into a Public Journal
While I laid in the hospital bed I continually thought that spending a couple of months recovering would give me a chance to introduce a few new habits. I wanted journaling to be one of them.
At the same time I was typing these daily updates on Facebook and thinking through what would become Built Unstoppable. I told myself that I would figure out a way to add journaling into my daily workflow once I was further along with my recovery.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with AJ Leon that I realized that my daily Facebook updates were journaling. Except instead of being private, it was a public journal for all to read.
Deciding Not to Use a Template
Each time I committed to journaling I would find or develop a new template to use. The one that I liked the most was a modified version of the journaling template that Michael Hyatt uses.
Though I am someone that develops templates or workflows for everything I do, I decided not to do it for these journal entries.
The journal entry that I publish daily is a raw, barely edited account of my day.
Each day, usually after dinner, I sit down to type my entry. It takes me roughly 30 minutes each night. Once I am done typing I read through it once to correct grammatical mistakes and then I publish it.
What I Have Learned
Over the past month I have learned many things from journaling daily - some of them are about journaling, in general, while others are about journaling publicly.
- Documenting this experience. I have already gone back to read several of the updates that I have published. Yes, this could have been done privately as well. I thought it could be beneficial to others so that is why I continue to publish daily updates.
It is also why I am retaining every text, Facebook message or email that I have received. Months and years from now I want to have this record to be able to look through.
- Processing the day’s events. Typing my journal update feels like a freeing experience to me. This shouldn’t be a surprise since I rely heavily on Evernote, LastPass, Todoist, Outlook and other software to remember everything for me. Somehow I never considered journaling the same way.
- Keeping friends, family and colleagues updates. Instead of sending individual or smaller group updates, I am able to publish a single update of that day’s events so that everyone who has supported us through this journey knows what is going on.
- Inspiring others. This is something that I never intended to happen with these updates. I never intended to launch Built Unstoppable but am glad I did. After receiving dozens (and probably hundreds, at this point) of messages saying that this story was inspiring them, I knew it was something that I had to continue.
I have gotten to read a number of inspiring stories of others who have struggled with medical issues. It has also inspired several people to start (or continue) leading a healthy lifestyle, remaining thankful for the opportunity to do so.
- Staying accountable. One thing that has always been hard for me is consistency with writing. Publishing a daily journal update helps me to stay accountable to everyone that I know is looking forward to reading it that day.
Should you make your journal public?
That is a question that only you can answer. If it wasn’t for this experience, I would have never thought to publish my (inconsistent) journal entries. I always considered them private.
People like to read stories and search for information that is helpful to them. My hope is that my journal entries continue to provide the next step in this story while also being helpful to others.
Whether you choose to share your journal publicly or not, I do encourage you to try journaling. Take 20-30 minutes either at the start or end of your day and just write. If it helps you, use a template. If it will make you feel constrained then just write freely whatever is on your mind.
Image Credit: Bob AuBuchon