Throughout the past several years, I have been a major fan of waking up early and doing so naturally with the sun. During my time in Toronto, attempted with limited success, and ultimately failed efforts, were made to do this regularly. Progress would abound during summer when it meant getting up around 5:30. Then I would subsequently flutter back into old sleeping habits during winter, when the sun didn't rise until 7:30, or later.
Thankfully, Tianjin is a little further South and gets more sun. It doesn't hurt this results in a fantastic dry heat! Typically in Toronto, I didn't like being outside above 24°C because it is too humid. Here, I've been outside in pants and long sleeve shirt at 30°C and comfortable! Anyways, I digress. As you know I listen to a lot of audio content to learn now instead of solely reading. In the post "Lessons From Negotiations, Audiobooks and Overcoming Fear" (http://www.solotripabroad.com/blog/lessons-from-negotiations-audiobooks-and-overcoming-fear) I wrote of listening to The Tim Ferris Show (a podcast) and the interview of Josh Waitzkin (author of the book: The Art of Learning). Both speakers recommended listeners start journaling, and doing so as early in the morning as possible.
Shortly thereafter, I started. Why not? There is AMPLE free time here given the new job hours (which are ~ 12 hours a week and making the same money as back home), I thought it'd be worth the try.
With my first entry on April 22, I committed to do 15 minutes of writing shortly after waking up. This is usually around 5:45-6, with no alarm. As of this writing (May 03, 2016, Beijing Time), I have missed one day. On average I write about two pages worth of content. Topics could be regarding anything. Josh Waitzkin recommends writing in the morning as this is when people usually have a burst of creativity and aren't bogged down by the wares of the day. He is correct. Entries cover what I dreamed of the previous night, things bothering me, habits I seek to obtain or get rid of, my budgeting progress, what I've been thinking, what I've learned, ideas for these posts and financial action items.
As a result, I really enjoy doing the writing. Capturing my thoughts is very personally rewarding and improves both writing skill and style. Since starting, I've found what I write about in the journal entry seems to be more prominent in my mind if it is something I am working on (such as sticking to a budget), throughout the day. Conversely, thoughts which bothered me now seem to no longer be as forceful. Think of it as a pressure release valve for negative thoughts and a rise in the positive flow valve for thoughts and action items.
This new habit has been fantastic in assisting me to take the appropriate steps to pay off 35% of my debt, of which the remaining pieces are in motion. This is not about capturing the information, so much as it is about writing it down. We've all made numerous entries into Notes on our iPhone, but somehow those don't get accomplished the way they seem to in commercials. The more I write out my plans on paper, the more actions are completed.
This method was used for planning the move to Asia and resulted in 95% of the tasks completed in 30 days vs. my daily to-do list in Notes which rarely gets half way done, let alone completed. Change your verbal and mental wording, from "to-do's" to "actions" or "action items". The brain visualizes them differently and the outcome, is equally reflective. I believe this also gives credence to the notion whereby we rise to the occasion... provided the occasion is big enough to inspire our action.
I challenge you, to write out actions worthy of your inspiration! Make them grand and exciting, it is in this realm you become the person you are truly meant to fulfill. Otherwise, why bother with your efforts in life? If you're life is not exciting to you, I believe you are not living. Truthfully, striving for such grand action can be frightening, but such fright is often hollow, ungrounded, illogical and self-imposed. Buy a small notebook, spend 15 minutes of your day writing out the voice in your head, dream big and change your life!