Life Design Journaling Framework: Habits and Skills

What are Habits and Skills

You are on this journey in life towards your vision. What habits do you have that help you on your journey, what habits slow you down? What skills do you have for your journey, what skills do you need?

Awareness of your habits and skills is the first step towards creating the most effective set of habits and skills to assist you on your journey to your vision.

What are Habits?

Habits are the behaviors and thinking patterns that we automatically repeat in our lives. Habits can either serve us by helping us live our mission and achieve our goals, or they can hinder us by being a distraction or obstacle.

Each habit has a cue or a triggering mechanism, the routine or series of actions, and the reward.

Your habit of brushing your teeth each morning is cued by getting out of bed. The reward is knowing you are not going to get cavities and your breath is fresh. It is important to be aware of your cues and your rewards so that you can instill new habits into your life.

You can also stack habits that you do one after another. You would therefore only need one cue, and the reward is the cumulation of all the rewards of each individual task. This is what makes morning routines so powerful. Once your cue starts you on the first habit, all the other habits in the stack are easier to complete. Starting a habit is the hardest part.

What are Skills

Skills are learned abilities or capacities.

The ability to do something well; expertise. [source: Oxford Dictionary]

An ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people (interpersonal skills). [source: Wikipedia]

My Experience:  Journaling and Skills Development

Skill development as a business analyst is very straightforward. A group of forward-thinking people has put together the business analyst book of knowledge (BABOK). The BABOK outlines all the roles a business analyst plays in all different types of situations and lists all the skills a business analyst requires to achieve different outcomes.

With this project, we are currently on a quest to build a Life Design Book of Knowledge (LDBOK).

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no such resource. We are still at the stage where everyone is trying to find the path forward.

I have found many excellent resources in my journaling journey, from the well-known likes of Tony Robbins to individuals I have met and had short discussions with. You can find knowledge and wisdom everywhere.

My journal is the place where I bring all this information together to help form my life design. With digital tools these processes are become easier and much more effective.

One significant advantage of digital journaling is searching. The other day I was looking for habits I could use to help my son with his homework. During that search, I found entries I had made about habit stacking. Habit stacking is creating a habit that consists of a set of tasks. Based on this my son and I set up a habit stack for when we walk in the door after I pick him up from school. All he needs to remember is to open his school agenda and the rest of the tasks – reading, homework, forms I need to sign, just fall into place.

Why You Should Journal your Skills

Journaling is an excellent practice for documenting your current skills as well as a tool for cultivating new skills.

Your documented list of skills will allow you to effectively apply the skills you know to reach your vision

There will be a variety of skills that you will need in order to achieve your vision. These are skills that you will require to attain certain outcomes along your journey to your vision. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert, to put in the 10,000 hours. How good you need to be at a skill will be based on the result the skill provides. You may need very basic skill in Microsoft excel to reach your vision, but need to be an expert in a skill related to your field.

To learn a new skill you require consistent deliberate practice. The best way to ensure you have consistent practice is to measure and record your practice. Journaling your practice and reviewing at regular intervals will keep you on task. The gamification aspect of measuring will also keep you motivated to keep going. If you have 20 straight days of practice, you will want to keep practicing to keep the streak going.

Why You Should Journal your Habits

The advantage of journaling habits is similar to measuring/journaling your skills practice. For the majority of habits, you are going to adopt, the doing part is well within your skill level. It is doing the habit consistently and without thinking that is the formation of the habit.

Your habits are key to achieving your vision.

A key practice for achieving your vision is:

  • Journal all your values both ‘good’ and ‘bad’
  • Determine how effective they are at getting you closer to your vision or how much they are taking you away from your vision
  • Determine the ideal list of habits needed for achieving your vision
  • Choose 1 or 2 habits on the ideal list you want to foster
  • Choose 1 or 2 on your current list you want to drop
  • Track your new habits until the habit is formed

You are forming new habits and/or dropping existing habits to start achieving your vision. The inspiration for your vision will also be inspirations for developing the habits to reach your vision. The set of habits you create for your vision will help define the person you are going to be once you reach your vision.

Develop Your Habits & Skill’s – Action Steps

ActionStep Description
Start a journalStart a journal if you don’t already have one.
Document your skills and habitsCreate a section specifically for your skills, and one specific for your habits. This will allow you to regularly review, and grow your skills and habits.
Document experiences of your skills and habitsCreate a section where you can document experiences related to your skills or habits. Journal experiences where you exercised a skill or moved closer to your vision due to a habit.
Document reflections of your skills and habitsCreate a section where you document reflections and insights you have about your skills and habits. You can also specify what skills are habits you will need to form in the future.
Review regularlyReview your journal regularly. Ideally, you would review your journal as part of your morning or evening routine. This is an integral part of daily improvement.