Updated: Feb 16
We're all busy and there are only so many hours in a day, so sometimes, committing to reading a self-development book or committing to an online course or programme can seem like far too daunting of a task. Fortunately, there are little writing exercises you can do each day to help change your mindset, give you a new perspective on things, and encourage you to enjoy life in a whole new way. Here are just a few to get you started.
1. Write a letter to yourself from your future self – your future self that has achieved all your wildest dreams.
What would you say to yourself now if you knew that you were absolutely going to smash every single one of your goals and, ultimately, create your dream life? Write down all the words of encouragement, comfort, and support you’d give your past self. Then read it through again. These are the kinds of words you need to be saying to yourself on a regular basis in order to smash all your goals and create you dream life.
I love this exercise. You can also imagine that your future self visits you and tells you that you’re successful in the future and that you’ve achieved everything you’re working so hard on in order to achieve it. Would that make you stop working now, make you give up on striving so hard because you know you’re going to be successful? No, it would make you work harder and it would make your desire for that dream life so much stronger. A self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s fun to think about, anyway.
2. Get a nice notebook and make it into your 'Nice Words Notebook'.
This is basically a book where you write down anything anyone says to you, whether it’s someone giving you a compliment, praising your work, encouraging you to go after something, giving you/your company a review or testimonial, or just saying something nice to you that brightens your day. Write down the words whenever you come across one of these situations, and do it before you forget. Then, if you ever have a day when you’re feeling down about yourself/your work/your life, you can take out the book and read through it, reminding yourself just how awesome you are – and just how many people you have rooting for you.
This might seem a little weird, but I have my very own Nice Words Notebook and I use it all the time. I haven’t re-read it in a while, but even just the act of writing out, by hand (in a nice pen, of course), all the great feedback you get from other people can make you feel awesome. I use it mainly for reviews, testimonials, and nice emails I get from clients and people who have read my books, or from friends who send encouraging messages about my business. It definitely helps to keep your spirits up!
3. Make a list of the five people you spend the most time around.
Then, take each one and consider how they make you feel, if they’re aligned with your values and goals, and if they lift you up or drag you down. We are the sum of the people we spend the most time with, and if you’re surrounded by negative people who have zero goals in life, it’s not going to help your mindset or your belief that you can go out there and achieve your dreams. Is there any way you can start spending more time with more positive people, perhaps people who have similar values and goals to yourself?
This exercise can seem a little harsh, but I’m not suggesting you cut all the negative people out of your life – I’m just reminding you to be aware of how people make you feel when you’re with them and, if needed, reduce the amount of time you spend with people who drain your energy (it isn’t just dementors who suck hope and happiness out of people)! Then look into finding some more positive people to hang around with who will lift you up instead of dragging you down.
4. Try some free writing.
Give yourself a topic (either vague or specific, such as ‘my job’ or ‘what I really want to be doing') and just start writing. Don’t think too much or worry about spelling, grammar, or sentence structure – just write. You might be surprised at what you come up with, such as any insights you might have into a certain subject that you weren’t even aware of, or some ideas of how to solve a problem or issue you’re having. Give it a whirl.
This can be done with pen and paper or with a keyboard (if you’re fast at typing – if not, it might stop you from writing as quickly as you’re thinking). Just write whatever comes to mind, and don’t worry about it making sense or showing it to anyone. You can keep this just for you. When you're done, read it back and see if you've come up with any words of wisdom, or see if anything stands out at you as something you need to spend more time and/or effort on in your life.
5. List your awesome qualities.
Take out a pen and notepad and write down 10-20 things you really like about yourself. We often get so bogged down in the negatives and what we don’t like about ourselves that it can be easy to forget the things we do like. These can be about our personality, our physical appearance, our skills and talents, and so on – whatever you can think of. So, I might write:
I like how I’m kind to people as much as possible.
I like how I’m a huge animal lover.
I like how I regularly donate to charity.
I think I’m a good friend.
I like that I’m good at proofreading and spotting mistakes.
I like the colour of my eyes.
I like my creative side.
I like how I’m constantly trying new things.
I like how I never give up, even when it’s hard.
I like my long eyelashes.
This is actually a great exercise to do every time you’re feeling down about yourself or if something happens that makes you feel bad. If you want to, you can also ask someone else to do this exercise with you, but with them writing down things they like about you and vice versa. Do this with a partner or a good friend, or perhaps a close family member. It’s also a good bonding activity to do with someone you’re not as close to as you’d like to be.
These exercises are taken from my upcoming book, Write Your Year: 365 Ways To Change Your Life. To be the first to hear when this book is being released (and perhaps to grab an advanced copy before it comes out), join the Write Your Week mailing list right here!
You can also join our private Facebook group, Write Your Life Community: Design Your Dream Life for more writing exercises, help, support, encouragement, and more!