Journaling: A habit of highly effective people

Journaling: A habit of highly effective people
Nicky Torode
Nicky TorodeDiamond Minds - journalling & coaching

Posted: Tue 22nd Mar 2022

Do you know how, in Dragons' Den, the hopeful entrepreneur goes to talk to the wall? To be alone, away from the expectant potential investor’s eyes, to think things through.

Well, that’s how journaling is. The quiet, solitary, reflective moment when - in that silence - an inner voice, unrehearsed, pops up with a way forward.

Journaling is the proven technique used by many successful businesspeople to harness the power of their unknown thoughts, to gain clarity, to reach an a-ha moment, to get a sense of control over a current concern and generate ideas as possible next steps towards solutions.

And the good news is journaling isn’t complicated. It’s quick, easy and beneficial to your wellbeing and impactful on the success of your business. And did I mention, it’s low cost, too - no courses to sign up to, just pick up a pen and a notebook and dive in with a curious mind.

What makes journaling work?

We often spend a lot of the time running the day-to-day of the business, crossing things off the to-do list with relish, reviewing progress and moving projects forward. So much so that we don’t often have the time to sit still and make sense of our experience.

Journaling works because we quieten the hectic, noisy outer world and go inwards. To find out what we’re thinking, to step away from expectant eyes to find and discover the best way forward now.

In my experience of running journaling workshops with solopreneurs, executives and creative practitioners, these preparations for journaling help:

  • Find a comfy spot…away from ‘business’ mode self.

  • A pen and notebook…goes to the core quicker than typing.

  • Short and frequent…set a 10-min timer; more comes with more practice.

  • Curious and open…trust that your pen will wander into helpful thoughts.

  • Self-compassion…go as far as you want to now, mindful of your day ahead. Counter your chatty inner critic with a compassionate inner champion.

  • Reflect on writing…a minute to skim what you’ve written at the end to find the diamond in the rough, the thing that you need right now.

Inspiration for journaling

I hear you. What do I journal about? I think, as entrepreneurs, there’s always something on our mind, business-wise: from a meeting we’re preparing for, marketing we’ve been avoiding to ideas that are floating out of our reach.

Or, the more personal side, your confidence to deliver, your bright new shiny project distractions. Journaling about things that matter.

Here are a few ways in:


These are quick-fire and a way to get out everything that’s on your mind:

  • Gratitude list

  • Lists of what brings you joy in your business

  • Reasons you got into this business

  • Bright spots - things you’re looking forward to this month

  • Pinch points - things you’re not looking forward to

And, with the list, choose one and go deeper


We’ve all heard those off-the-wall questions asked at interviews. I feel myself squirm in the interview chair again as that interview replays in my mind now!

And yet, these seemingly out-there questions can offer great journaling prompts. Try these on for size:

  • If my business was an animal right now, what animal would it be and why?

  • If my business was a biscuit today, what biscuit would it be?

These questions jolt you out of your habitual thinking, rational mind, and force you to come up with something revelatory! See in your answers your perceptions of business/product/service positioning, see your limiting beliefs in your or your business’ potential, see in your answers those gaps between your projected imagination and reality. All useful stuff, business side.


I love dialogue, literally, it brings out another voice!

  • Journal between your 2021 self and 2022 self.

  • Dialogue between yourself at the start of your business journey and now.

  • Dialogue with someone that you are avoiding a business conversation with, or indeed someone you're excited about talking to.


Writing letters is intimate, we have in mind the person we’re writing to, so it feels very real:

  • Write to your 2023 self.

  • Write a thank you letter to a business mentor who might not know they’d been a mentor to you!

Found forms

Using the constraint of an already existing form of writing, our current challenges and solutions come out:

  • A manifesto for a world with…(insert your product/service)

  • A recipe for my business success...(ingredients, instructions)

  • A prescription for...(insert your product/service)

Poems or prose

Lines of poetry or prose with its imagery and ideas can really jolt you into writing, as something resonates and catches your attention. Keep a log of these lines and you can go back to them for later journaling. Find free poems online or dig out an old book and let the page choose itself!

Eavesdropping/external stimuli

I confess my ears are always catching words or phrases which land in some way onto the page. Again, the resonance is key…to what’s already going on for you at that moment.

Lines of dialogue from a film or, dare I say, even the odd Eastenders line can get me grabbing the pen! Even book titles and lines on social media. Attune to what grabs your attention unexpectedly. This makes journaling personal, real and meaningful.

See how talking to the page is just like talking to the wall? And like those entrepreneurs who come back to the Dragons, confident that they’ve considered options and know the answer - and excited that their business is now on a firmer footing – journaling, too, builds clarity and confidence.

Now, where’s my favourite pen gone?

Don't forget to connect with Nicky on Enterprise Nation today.

Nicky Torode
Nicky TorodeDiamond Minds - journalling & coaching

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