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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! In this episode, Jeff interviews Doug Smith, Director of Development for Light of Life Rescue mission and founder of L3 Leadership, on the benefits of journaling. There are many ideas about why you should journal, but Doug gives practical insight on the benefits of specific journaling practices and how you can incorporate them into your own life to see not only short term benefits but long-term returns. Journaling will help you bring clarity to your priorities and evaluate your own personal growth

How often do you journal?

Every day!

Why has journaling made an impact in your life?

Journaling on its own is valuable, but it is more valuable when you use your journals to review your life. At the end of every year, I recommend taking some time to review your journal and separate them by categories. I like to use the categories: leadership principles, highlights, lowlights, the goals I achieved and didn’t achieve, and how I grew and changed personally. This shorter version of my journals is something I can save and look back again and again. After 10 years, I also like to go over my yearly reviews and create a decade review.

How can journaling increase intentionality?

The best system you can use is the one you will actually use. Just start somewhere and develop your system. For me, I use journaling to support my Life Plan. When you create a life plan, you should think about what you want in every area of your life and then break it down into yearly goals and then break those goals down as well. Framing intentions in your mind is a great step, but writing them down will help you take action on your intentions because it makes them more concrete. This will help you stay focused and live your life with more intentionality.

What should you write about?

I create categories in my journal like: family, work, personal, spiritual, general, marriage, top 10 goals, and meeting notes.

How do you incorporate gratitude into journaling?

The 5-minute journal (app) has you write 3 things you’re grateful for every single day. Then gratitude comes forth when I’m journaling and talking about the categories in my life.

How has journaling helped you as a leader?

Journaling as a leader has enabled me to prepare for and practice having hard conversations, and this growth alone has made journaling worthwhile for me.

When should you journal?

Some people find that journaling early in the morning can help you set the tone for the day. At the very end of the day, you can review your day and write down anything you don’t want to forget.

Best leadership book: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

How do you choose who to mentor? I say yes too often, but I am adopting the idea of doing for one what you wish you could do for everyone. I pick people who are making a difference and have potential. If I meet them once, I look at whether or not they going to do something with what I say. If they do, then I ask myself if they align with my mission and values?

Best Leadership Advice: Learn how to have hard conversations and don’t gossip.

What should leaders watch out for? One behavior trait that will harm leaders is trying to do life alone and then never letting anyone in their life.

Q: Do you currently have a journaling practice? If so, what strategies work for you? If not, what about the idea of journaling stands out to you? What barriers stand in the way of you starting to journal?

Q: In the interview, Doug says that you overestimate what you can do in a year but underestimate what you can do in a decade. Have you seen this to be true in your own life? How? If you overestimated what you can do, how can you make sure that your goals and timelines are realistic? If you underestimated what you could do, how can you stretch yourself moving forward?

Q: Have you ever had a daily gratitude practice? Did you see it make a difference in your life or attitude? Why or why not?

Application Activities:

  1. Where do you have 5 minutes in your schedule where you could journal? Commit to journaling for 5 minutes every day for the next month. At the end of the month, write a mini-review of your entire month. What did you learn about yourself? If you continue journaling, what would you change to increase the impact of your practice?

  2. How else are you keeping track of your goals? Where do you keep them? How do you make sure that you are staying focused on them? Whether you decide to journal or not, find a way to put your top 10 goals in a place that you will see them.

  3. What do you think is the biggest lesson you learned over the last decade? Write a short letter to yourself and put it somewhere where you will remember it. At the end of the decade, take it out and write another letter. Treat this as an opportunity to create a mini-journal and create a reminder for yourself of just how far you have come.

Journaling Resources:

The 5 Minute Journal (App)

The Full Focus Planner

Gallery Leather Journals

Living Forward by Michael Hyatt

Connect with Doug:

Sign up for Doug’s one-day event at or

Instagram: @dougsmithlive and @L3Leadership

Connect with Jeff:

Facebook: The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher

Instagram: @thechampionforum



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