The single most powerful habit for personal growth:Journaling: Here is how to really do it

The single most powerful habit for personal growth:


Over the past 5 years, I’ve journaled every single morning—and along the way, I’ve:

• Answered over 1,000 questions
• Tested every app, pen, & notebook

But I always return to a pen, paper, and these 5 prompts:

For notebook & pen, I use:

• Muji 0.5 pens
• Leuchtturm1917 soft-covers

(More about these at the end!)

For my prompts, I use:

• The 80/20 Audit
• The Morning Kickstart
• The Evening Shutdown
• The Bottleneck Analysis
• The Compounding Projection

Let’s dive in to each:

Prompt 1: The Morning Kickstart

My current morning routine:

• Make a fresh double espresso
• Crack open my notebook
• Brain dump answers to 5 questions

But here’s the catch: I set strict limits.

No one has time to write a novel every morning—so here’s what I do instead:

I start with 5 questions:

• What’s 1 thing I’m grateful for?
• What’s 1 thing I’m excited about?
• What’s 1 virtue I want to exhibit?
• What’s 1 thing I’m avoiding?
• What’s the 1 thing I need to do?

But I set a 5-minute timer.

And each question gets 1 sentence, max.

This prompt covers all of the bases:

• Present moment gratitude
• Future excitement for the day ahead
• Reminders about the type of person I’m trying to become (and avoid becoming)

And it ends with a reminder of the 1 most important thing I need to today.

Now for evening:

Prompt 2: The Evening Shutdown

Just like the Morning Kickstart, this one has to be quick.

So I set a 5-minute timer and answer:

• What were my biggest wins of the day?
• Did I have any major realizations?
• What’s on the agenda for tomorrow?

Here’s why I chose these:

By recapping the my biggest wins & realizations, I keep a ledger of:

• The good things happening in my life
• The things I’m learning about myself & the world

And by brain dumping bullets on the day ahead, I go to bed with clarity, letting my subconscious work overnight.

Prompt 3: The Bottleneck Analysis

This one is the single prompt that has most accelerated my personal growth.

And it has 2 questions:

1. What’s the biggest bottleneck to achieving my next goal?

2. Why aren’t I working on it today?

Here’s why it’s so effective:

This prompt forces you to confront the brutal truth over the comforting lie.

The truth is, you know exactly what you should be doing.

So—stop looking for new things to do.

• No shiny objects
• No new books
• No new apps

Instead, do the things you know you should be doing.

Prompt 4: The 80/20 Life Audit

First start with 2 lists:

• Where am I feeling satisfied?
• Where am I feeling dissatisfied?

Brain dump anything and everything—health, finances, relationships, career, spirituality, get it all onto the page.

Then, take each list and analyze:

Our goal is to find the 20% of:

• Places
• Habits
• People
• Beliefs

That are leading to 80% of the positive & negative results.

This is the 80/20 rule in action.

And this reflection will make it painfully obvious which handful of things are driving your results.

During this reflection, patterns will emerge.

The same people, habits, and beliefs—all leading to your best and worst results.

From there, your goal is to:

• Double down on the 20% positive
• Ruthlessly eliminate the 20% negative

The result?

An instant life upgrade.

Prompt 5: The Compounding Projection

It’s cliché, but all successful outcomes come from compounding.

Our success (or failure) is a result of tiny, daily actions compounded over time.

But in the moment, it can be hard to gauge your progress.

So ask yourself these 2 questions:

1. If I repeated every action I took today, every day for a year, where would I end up?

2. Is this the place I want to be?

If you’re confident in your current path, this prompt will help you be more patient.

But if you’re on the wrong path, it will help you course correct.

And that’s it!

These are the 5 prompts I come back to time and time again.

• The 80/20 Audit
• The Morning Kickstart
• The Evening Shutdown
• The Bottleneck Analysis
• The Compounding Projection

And they always leave me with a feeling of elite clarity.

If you enjoyed these prompts:

1. Follow me @dickiebush for weekly threads on digital writing, digital leverage, & personal growth.

2. Retweet these prompts to save them for later and help others find them as well.

Here’s the link to the top tweet:

From the looks of it, people enjoy journaling prompts!

So I’m going write a Deep Dive into my journaling process for creative idea generation.

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