By Bryan Green Subscribe | Apple | Spotify | Google
Eric Wood was an NFL lineman for the Buffalo Bills for 9 years. Since his retirement he has transformed his body by losing over 60 pounds. He has started a new career in broadcasting, and is dedicating himself to help others figure out what’s next in their lives. His podcast, What’s Next? With Eric Wood, centers around helping his listeners take the next step in their lives, or as he puts it, “to make their what’s next their best yet.” In our conversation with Eric we dove into many of these topics, from goal-setting to serving others to the freedom that comes from living a disciplined life, but he had a brilliantly simple strategy for dealing with the problem of maintaining a positive mindset. His approach involves a simple system of daily journaling. Once in the morning and once before bed for no more than 5 minutes. Here's how to incorporate Eric's system into your own life.
Journal #1: Maintain a Morning “Gratitude Journal”
The first journal Eric recommends maintaining is a “gratitude journal.” A gratitude journal is very simply a collection of things you are grateful for. Every morning, Eric writes three things in his journal that he’s grateful for. Just three short bullet point entries. They can be big or small. Life isn’t always filled with big special moments, so it’s important to capture the small things that are going well. Recording a podcast. Eating a nice meal. A hug from your kid. Even the small ones count. Eric makes this part of his consistent morning routine. His specific routine centers around his faith and getting his morning started healthily. Reading the bible gets him centered spiritually. Eating well gets him centered nutritionally. His gratitude journal gets him centered energetically. "You fuel yourself in a number of ways," says Eric. "You fuel yourself with the workouts that you do. You fuel yourself with what you put into your mind and what you put into your body. What you feed yourself from a knowledge standpoint will come out of your mouth. What are you filling your mind and your heart with? How you fuel your body determines if you have the energy each and every single day to be able to show up for your loved ones, show up on a podcast, show up at work. If you fuel yourself the right way, I think you're going to like the results of what's coming down the line for you."
Journal #2: Maintain an Evening “What I Did Well Today” Journal
The second journal Eric recommends is a “what I did well today” journal. Renowned running coach Greg McMillan
calls this an “awesomeness journal” and it is a growing practice in both the athletic and business worlds. The negative things in our lives are on our minds constantly. The point of this journal is to give our positive actions equal attention.. As Eric says in our conversation, “Track your wins because what happens for most individuals is at night, you go to lay down the pillow. You haven't recounted your day at all, and you focus on that one negative thing. That one time you lost your temper. That one time you said something stupid. The one time you failed on the sales call. That's all you focus on before bed and you don't derive confidence from all the wins you stacked up throughout the day."
By simply writing down three areas you did well, you counteract the default mindset of criticism and blame. You remind yourself that regardless of whatever mistakes were made, you did good things too. No, you weren’t perfect, but you have a choice to focus on what you did well or what you did poorly. You’re naturally going to be drawn to what you did poorly, so build a habit that helps you stay balanced. The benefits of these journals aren’t realized in a day. You may not feel all that different after writing what you’re grateful for or what you did well that day. Some days, you may not even truly believe it. That’s ok. The benefits don’t come from what you write. They come from the habit and routine of writing them every day. Small wins compound. Small positives build on each other over time to create a much larger feeling of positivity. Even more importantly, habits like journaling give you something to fall back on to help pull you out of the most challenging situations. They help to build a specific muscle, in this case the one you need to level out your feelings and emotions.
Try Eric’s 30-Day Challenge
Most people have trouble getting started with journaling and building new habits. Statistically, you need to stick with something for up to two months for it to truly become a habit, but many positive behaviors can stick in less time, and a month is a good length of time to test something new. So try Eric’s 30-Day challenge. Get yourself two journals. For the next 30 days, write down three things you are grateful for each morning. In the evening, write down three things you did well. After one month, I’m confident you’ll feel a notable difference in how positive you are about your life and your abilities. Bryan Green is the co-host of the 'Fueling the Pursuit' podcast and author of Make the Leap. He's a former captain of the UCLA Track & Field Team.