Let’s Try the SELF Journal

I’m not new to journaling. I’ve been doing it (on and off) since before college. While I typically prefer to type and store my thoughts digitally, I have always appreciated and even admired the old-fashioned way with ink. That’s what Ben Franklin did, and he was a P.I.M.P., allegedly. However, I don’t tend to be very consistent, and before long the physical journal just becomes a forgotten burden. Enter the SELF Journal.

Even though I prefer digital journaling, I do like a good paper journal. I practically collect them; I have a few limited edition Moleskines, a couple Lechturn 1917s, and a handful of other unique journals and sketchbooks. Most of them, however, are barely touched. The few that I’ve tainted with the blemish of ink are usually only graced with a dozen or so pages of attention. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it; it’s the consistent routine that I lack.

I recently picked up a SELF Journal, from Best Self. In it are a few sections, each basically adhering to a time frame. The first section (not counting the very helpful and thorough instructions and examples at the beginning) represents the next 13 weeks. This is followed by a spread for each month for the next three months. Next is a spread for each of the next 13 weeks. Finally, there are spreads to cover the next 91 days. The SELF Journal takes something extremely open-ended and daunting and simplifies it. Whereas a standard journal is obviously a blank canvas, the SELF Journal templates out each page with enough to keep yourself using it without overwhelming yourself.

The concept is nothing new; you map out your goals for the next three months, track your progress, and recap on each week. I was skeptical that a templated journal was going to be overly cheesy and restrictive, but Best Self really nailed it. Plus, the paper quality and construction is on par with Lechturn. Before we gush too hard though, let’s remember there is little value to me if it doesn’t help me do what I set out to do, so let’s save the testimony for 13 weeks from now and talk about what I’m actually using the thing for.

My 13 Week S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This makes a world of difference when it comes to sticking to, and mapping out your goals. I spent several days thinking and drafting out exactly what my roadmap was going to look like. I had no problem with the end-result, but actually coming up with a solid, measurable plan for my three goals took some consideration. I’ve found if I don’t piece things out, I’ll struggle and fail. Just look at my 30-day blogging challenge of July, where I came in with less than a 50% success rate.

I’m going to share the specifics of my first goal in the hopes that it will a) keep myself accountable, and b) help those who are interested to see how it works.

SELF Journal Goals

GOAL #1: Lose Weight, Weigh Less Than 200 lbs

Although I’ve made progress in this over the past few years, I’ve wanted to lose weight for well over a decade. Although my ideal weight is considerably less than 200 lbs, I’m only planning for the next 13 weeks, so the goal needs to be reasonable.

The end result goal is very important to me to achieve because:
I will be healthier, more confident, and enjoy doing more.

Progress Goals

  1. I will get in the habit of preparing my week’s breakfasts/lunches on Sunday.
  2. I will plan other gratifying activities other than comfort eating or ordering lunch
  3. I will lose 2.5 lbs each week.

Actions + Tasks 

For Progress Goal #1
  1. List out the meals I will eat by Friday.
  2. Prepare and arrange the food on Sunday.
  3. Plan for low-carb snacks throughout the week.
For Progress Goal #2
  1. Schedule fun/productive activities for lunch.
  2. Schedule fun/productive activities for evenings.
  3. Ensure easy-to-eat, low-carb snacks are always available.
for Progress Goal #3
  1. Measure myself daily.
  2. <50g carbs, >100oz water each day
  3. Stay on course. Avoid the temporary gratification.


GOAL #2: Do More, Create More

This goal is very personal to me. I strongly feel that if I don’t do more with my talents, I will regret letting my creativity go to waste. Between writing, drawing, animation, and other creative avenues, I really should be pushing myself to do more. I’ve made myself some simple tasks, such as Tweeting and blogging regularly, as well as a few milestones like finishing up an animation project I started last month.

GOAL #3: Stop “Working,” Delegate Everything

This isn’t exactly how it sounds, but I enjoy the mantra. Professionally, if I want to grow and advance, I need to imbue my experience upon those around me. If I’m drowning in the small stuff, it’s harder to focus on the less loud, but more important tasks. It’s easy to feel like you worked hard simply because you did a lot in a day, but doing a lot doesn’t necessarily mean you are moving forward, or in the right direction at all.

My Commitment, or as I like to call it, “What’s at Stake?”

The SELF Journal has you sign your name to your commitment to yourself, but not before making you explain how reaching your goals will improve your life. I came up with these by asking myself the opposite question, “how fucked up would I be if I didn’t do this?” Then I spun it back to the positive so I didn’t look like a total maniac in the event that someone peaked in my journal.

  • I will feel better, be healthier, and enjoy doing more things.
  • I will begin forging my legacy, making a name for myself.
  • I will enable myself to be less stressed and more productive.

If I get through at least two of my three goals by my target date, which is November 1st, I will reward myself with a 10-day vacation. I haven’t decided where, but we’ll figure that out when we get closer.

Finally, to make sure I’m taking proper action every day to accomplish my goals, I’m going to:

  • Wake up 30 minutes early to tend to my journal each morning.
  • Share my goal commitment with my inner circle.
  • Check in here on Lynk.wtf each week (that’s what I’m doing right now).

Day 1

SELF Journal Day 1

Technically, I just finished my second day, and I’m still pretty motivated (hey, that’s a big deal for me!).

The most important thing for me here is mapping out everything. Instead of just taking lunch, I plan it out so I’m busy and have something to look forward to other than ordering food. If I specifically plan for leisure, I’ll waste less time, feel less guilty about not doing something, and stay out of the funk.

So that’s it. I didn’t think I’d get so attached to the SELF Journal, but so far I feel like it’s something I can stick with. I’ll have more to talk about next week during my check in.

Sidenote: I feel it’s important to mention that I’ve peed four times while writing this blog. Drinking 100 ounces of water each day really tests the bandwidth of one’s bladder.




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