Journaling, Visualization, Goal-Setting, and Reading Non-Fiction Books

Have you ever wanted to be better at what you do?  Is there a level of success that you are pursuing?  Do you have a vision for the future?  These may be questions that you may have asked yourself, from time to time, at some point in your career and life.  Regardless of where you have come from, or your current circumstances, you can live the life of your dreams and achieve great things with your life.  But how do we achieve what we want in life?  How can we have greater Success?

To answer this, one has to be intentional, and undertake things daily that can have a massive impact in the long run.  Intentional means knowing what positive habits to acquire and making them part of your daily routine.  However, the problem with this is that most people do not know what the small things are that have maximum effect in achieving greatness, and unfortunately we spend too much time on things that do not matter (like watching too much television and mindless surfing the web).  Once you know what to do, and actions are implemented and undertaken daily, then this will compound over a period of time and improve your performance.  But what are the factors that can be undertaken daily that have maximum effect in improving your performance for greater success?

Continuing on from a previous LinkedIn post, entitled ’10 Factors for Success’, a number of people asked what they could do daily to help improve their performance?  What golden nuggets of wisdom, proven timeless principles, could be shared to improve daily performance?  Hence, this article addresses this and looks at 4 simple factors that can be undertaken daily, based on personal experience, that will have a significant effect on your desires, goals and push you forward in the direction of achieving success.  The 4 factors that will be covered are Journaling, Visualization, Goal-Setting, and Reading Non-fiction books.

This LinkedIn post is one of the most important ones for me, as it has helped me significantly in my life both personally and professionally.  I have used these proven timeless principles to achieve goals in my life again and again, like getting my PhD, becoming an Engineer, writing over 120 conference papers, growing multi-million dollar businesses, becoming a Group Managing Director, creating my own Group of Companies, and purchasing a large house.  The achievement of these goals has allowed me to give back and be a greater blessing to others, which is something that I believe in greatly.  By following the ideas in this article, practiced daily, you will see a significant effect in your life, and it will help you to become successful.


Factor 1.  Daily Journaling

Daily journaling is a reflective process, and it allows you to think, learn and grow.  Reflecting means to think through what one has done, so as to gain a greater understanding, and it can inspire creativity by providing new perspectives and new points of reference.  Journaling is all about finding 30 minutes a day to write down in a lined notebook, what you are thinking, feeling, and wanting.  When we write things down, we get the issues off our chest, off our mind, and we park them in the journal book.

Most issues that we face in life are messy problems, that cannot be solved easily, and often take time to resolve.  By writing issues down in the journal book, it will allow you to park them, go about your daily activities and free your mind and concentrate on other items.  Once things are written down in the journal book, the sub-conscious mind will go to work on looking at solutions for that problem and when you come back to the problem, a day or few days later, you will then normally have a few solutions at hand to work with.

“We do not learn from experience….we learn from reflecting on experience” – John Dewy.

The art of journaling is to find somewhere quiet, either earlier in the morning, or later in the evening.  It is best done when there are zero distractions around you, and you need peace and quiet to do it effectively.  The next point to note about journaling is to write in your journal using a pen, and write it out the old fashioned way.  The process of writing engages the mind more, and it is better than typing a log, but do what works for you best and effectively.

Daily journaling allows you to track progress on how you are doing.  In a few years’ time, you will be able to look back at your old journals and see the great progress you have made, and the successes, victories and wins.  Also this can be used as your story to inspire others to greatness, especially if you become a senior manager or leader.

Daily Journaling – The Process

  • Find a quiet location either early in the morning, or late in the evening, and allocate 30 minutes.
  • Write in your journal the date and time of the entry.
  • Score yourself on how you are feeling today out of 10. 10 feeling excellent, and 1 not feeling so good.
  • Start writing by asking yourself this question ‘What did I learn yesterday? This is used so that you start the writing process.  Then start writing what you are thinking about, feeling, or on your mind.
  • Items to include in your daily journal could be:
  • ‘What did I learn yesterday?’ (this is a good starting point to start writing something);
  • Reflection regarding the day before on events that were significant to you;
  • Things that went well, or not so well;
  • Items to park for now;
  • Learning moments;
  • People issues;
  • Challenges and dilemmas
  • Insights and lessons you learned from the experience;
  • Victories;
  • Things that you want;
  • Any new dreams, vision, and goals;
  • Appreciation and gratitude;
  • 5 Actions for the day (non-negotiables)


  • Write 5 actions for the day. Have 5 non-negotiable actions for the 5 days.  5 things that you will complete regardless of others things getting in the way.  It may be meeting a certain client, spending time with a family member, paying an important bill, reading a certain article etc.  This is so important to undertake, and it will allow progress to happen regardless of how busy and hectic your day is.


  • End of the day reflection. Even if you journal in the morning, or evening, it is important to reflect just before going to bed.  Review how the day went, good or bad, and note any observations.  Did one achieve everything one wanted to achieve?  Did you complete your 5 non-negotiables?  Any learning moments?

I started journaling a few years ago, and this has had a significant effect on my ability to work through issues, and achieve what I want.  I have found the experience extremely enlightening.  I get up early at 4am, to undertake my Journaling, and I undertake it 7 days a week (although I do get up a bit later at the weekend!).  The process of daily reflecting, has increased my awareness of ensuring that I learn a few things every single day, and to avoid just doing things.

Learning and reflecting are now at the forefront of my mind, and I go out of my way to try and learn something daily.  I also go out of my way to tell people to try and learn something every day.  From writing in my journal book, I have then ‘acted’ on the reflection by undertaking a few initiatives, ‘walking the talk’ and being proactive in my actions.  Journaling is a routine practiced daily for me, and it now feels strange if I don’t do it.  You have to journal what is important for you, and tailor it accordingly.  Give it a try today!

‘Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.’ – Jim Rohn


Factor 2.  Visualization

What we think about we attract.  You need to know that you can attract anything into your life, good or bad, and what we think about comes about, and what we think about we attract.  Like a magnet, if we think positive thoughts we will attract positive things into our lives.  Equally, if we think negative thoughts we will attract negative things into our lives.  Hence it is important to know what we are attracted to and what we spend our time thinking about.  We attract into our lives what we predominately think about most.  If we are thinking about not getting promoted, then guess what, we will attract more of that in to our lives.

‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ – Walt Disney

You have to visualize and believe through faith that things are going to happen.  You need to visualize the things that you want in your life.  You have to visualize that you can achieve anything and everything that you want in your life.  You are destined to greatness and you have seeds of untapped potential on the inside.  You may want to be attracting a great career, becoming a better Engineer, get promoted, become a CEO, have greater wealth, greater health and greater relationships, or it may be the car, house or partner of your dreams.  Whatever it is you want, you have to have faith, and believe that it will happen.  When you believe that it will happen, you are putting out positive signals, and you will attract the people and the circumstances into your life.  When you believe, all things are possible.

‘Whatever the mind can believe and conceive, it will receive.’ – Napoleon Hill 

All great leaders are visionary.  They may not have known how they were going to get what they wanted, but they had a vision for it first.  You have to paint a picture of what you want in your mind first, even if you don’t know how you are going to get it.  When you think about what you want, and you concentrate on this, you will attract these things into your life.  Hence it is important to focus on the things that you do want.

‘To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.’ – Anatole France

When you visualize it is important to imagine what it feels like if you are already in possession of what it is you want.  So we can visualize things as though they are real, as our brain cannot tell the difference, and this is important for adopting the art of visualization.  Visualization is extremely important aspects of manifesting anything great into our lives.  If we can visualize the things we want in our lives, like the type of career position, the new car that you want, or the type of house you want to live in.

You need to visualize that you are in that career position, driving the car, or walking around the house, as if you are already in possession of the job, car or house.  One way to do this is to close your eyes and think of the career position that you want.  Imagine that you already are in that position and feel what it feels like to be doing it now.  It is the feeling that is the most important thing.  This visualization method is so real in the moment; it feels like you already have that job position.

Supersize your Vision.  Do not be limited by your environment, and supersize your vision.  Don’t limit your vision and future, by the way you were brought up, by the people that you hang out with, or by what someone said about you.  Think bigger than this, get outside of your limited environment and see big.

‘Where there is no vision the people perish.’ – Proverbs 29:18

The American President, John F. Kennedy, in 1961 had a vision for getting man onto the moon by the end of the decade.  Neither he, the Scientists and Engineers, did not know how they were going to do it but he had created the vision.  Within the walls of NASA, there was a big picture of the moon up on the wall, as a visual reminder of the goal that had been set.  Every employee in NASA was behind this big goal.  Allegedly, even the janitor would say that they were not just cleaning the floor, but they were helping put man on the moon!

Process of Visualization

  • Daily Visualization – Find a quiet place where you can dream and visualize success for you. This can be undertaken as part of you daily journaling and reflection.  It could also be undertaken when you go out for a daily walk for 30 minutes every day.  If you are at home, sitting down, you can close your eyes and aim to visualize what you want, as if you are already in possession of it.
  • Daily Gratitude Walk – Take a daily walk for about 30 minutes around your neighborhood. Initially think of the things you are grateful for, like your life, your family, your job etc.  Then visualize the future and dream about the things that you want in my life.  Visualize as though you have those things in your possession, and feel what it is like.  It is very fulfilling to do this, and it makes you forget about all your worries and the stress of the day.
  • Write it down – Write anything that you visualize about getting in your journal book. It is extremely important that you write it down.
  • Faith and Hope – You have to believe that you will see great things happen. The best days of your life will be out in front you.  You can make a difference.  An expression or two that I say to myself is “if they can do it, I can do it”, or another one is “I have done it before, so I can do it again”.

I have used the principles described in this article for achieving success in my life, such as becoming a President and a Group Managing Director of an Engineering consultancy in the oil and gas industry.


Factor 3.  Goal Setting

Goal setting is an extremely important process to undertake daily, so that you are progressing to achieve things that you want in both your career and life.  What are your career goals? where are you heading?  It is extremely important to know where you are heading with your career.  With a goal it is like them being a dart board, if you throw darts at a dart board you will hope to hit it most of the time.  If you don’t have a dart board then you are aimlessly shooting darts and you will miss every time.

I have read somewhere that approximately 2 out of every 100 people only have goals written down and they know what they want.  So if you walked down the street, and asked the next 100 people, if they know what they want and have written down goals, only 2 people will have done this.  No wonder so many people go through life and don’t get what they want!  I also read that the Graduates that set goals went onto to do great things, as compared to the people that did not write goals.

‘Think little goals and expect little achievements.  Think big goals and win big success’

 – David Joseph Schwartz

Even with a goal, although you want it, you may not know how you are going to get it, and you don’t need to worry about how, it will happen.  As an example, if you drive your car at night, you may only be able to 200 feet in front of you, as you move the next 200ft you see the next 200ft.  You can drive from Houston to New York, by just seeing the next 200 feet, but later you will hit your goal and arrive in New York.  Goals are very much like this.  The advancement to a goal it like progressing just 200ft at a time, and it is undertaken in manageable smaller steps.

With goals you must be specific and you must write them out.  If it is a sum of money that you want then you must write it out, the exact amount you want and when you want it by, be specific.  You must state what you will give back in return.  But, I will say this again, you have to put steps in place and take intentional action.  Important points to note are:

  • All great leaders, or anyone who has achieved greatness, are goals setters;
  • You must write out your goals and not just have them in your mind;
  • Goals can be monthly, yearly, and 5 yearly;
  • Goals can even be life time goals;
  • A goal is a specific item, obtained in a measurable period of time. You have to be specific and set a date for achieving that goal.  This allows you to track them.  g. not…I want money.  But rather I want $100,000 in my bank by Dec. 2016;
  • Even if you do not know today how you are going to achieve these goals, that does not matter, you will attract the resources, circumstances and people, and find a way;
  • Your goals will become a burning desire and fuel your passion;
  • Place the goals somewhere so that you can see them every day, like above your desk, or next to your bed stand;
  • About 98% of the population do not set goals and write them down!
  • To achieve goals you have to be disciplined in taking intentional action.

It is best to set short, medium and long term goals.  Short term could be 1-2 months.  Medium could be 2 months to 2 years.  Long-term could be 2 to 10 year goals.  Set goals in the following areas of: Wealth, Health, Career, Happiness, Spiritual, Relationships, Wiser, and Giving back.  By setting goals in all these eight areas will give you a greater balance in life, and avoid spending too much time in just one area at the detriment of others.  E.g. being a workaholic and ignoring your health or family.

With your goals you can have a range of different goals but is important to have one or two big goals that stretch you and are related to your purpose, mission and virtue.  For example, a goal to get your MBA, PhD or becoming a President of a Company.

The business goals should be printed out and placed above your desk.  If anyone comes into my office, I have my goals above my desk and I do walk the talk.  When I am very busy, I look up at the goals to ensure that through all the noise and madness that I am heading the correct direction.  Very important.

From undertaking the goals, it is then important to identify what gaps you have and what training you need.  E.g. I need Engineering and Management training experience; I need to get an MBA etc.

I write my goals in a lined book, and review my goals every morning.  This allows me to see if I am on track or off track.  By looking at your goals daily it will allow you to see how you are progressing, and ensure that intentional action is taking place.

‘Review your goals twice every day in order to be focused on achieving them.’ – Les Brown


Goal Setting Exercise

The following is a goal setting exercise to get you started in writing goals and to get you into the habit of setting them.  Write down some 1 year goals you want to achieve with your career.

One Years Goals – Where do you want to be in 1 year from now?

Come up with five one-year goals of your own.

Define your One Year Goals What do I need to do to achieve it?  What training do I need?
e.g. I want to be a Senior Manager in an Engineering firm by December 2016 I have to undertake extensive searches and make an effort to find these types of job in Companies, and see what they expect for that type of position.
e.g. I want to earning $150k per year by Dec 2016 Put a plan in place to aim for better high paid jobs.  Looks for the skills they need.  Put a plan in place.  Act.


Then repeat the exercise for your 5 year and 10 year career goals.

Then repeat, the exercise, and undertake goals in 8 areas of life, such as: Wealth, Health, Career, Happiness, Spiritual, Relationships, Wiser, and Giving-back.


Take Action – Once you have your goals complete, it is important that you are intentional about your actions.  You have to take action for these things to come about.  Most people do not take intentional action and wonder why nothing happens.  You need to put things in place.  One way of doing this is to create a series of small goals and plans.  But take action daily, do a bit at a time, undertake the correct habits and do the right things.  Don’t complain about your circumstances, don’t complain about your job, and you have to take 100% responsibility.

‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ – Alan Kay

Do something today, take action, take a step, make a move.  Put something in place that will benefit, register on that course, order that book, meet someone who is already successful.  On average about 98% of the people do nothing about their circumstances, accept the way it is, and never move forward.  You do not want to be that person.


Factor 4.  Reading Non-Fiction Books

Get into the habit of reading non-fiction books such as books on leadership, motivational, soft-skills development, autobiographies, and management.  Read books that will build you up, stimulate you with new ideas and motivate you.  Aim to read one hour a day either early in the morning or late at night.  If you are not a reader you may want to start with just 30 minutes, and build up on that.  If you read one book per week, you will have read 1000 books over 20 years, and this will have a massive impact.

Reading books will undertake the following:

  • Will build up your knowledge base and areas of expertize;
  • Will spark ideas;
  • Will make you creative to problem solving;
  • Will broaden your horizons which is helpful for senior management roles and for developing other people;
  • Will make you better than the rest!

The best books I would like to recommend, as a start, are the following:

  1. ‘The Success Principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be’ by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer, Harper Collins, 2007.
  2. ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins, Harper, 2001.
  3. ‘Compound Effect’, Darren Hardy, Vanguard Press,2012.
  4. ‘Entrepreneur Roller Coaster’, Darren Hardy, Emerald Book Company, 2015.
  5. ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’, Dale Carnegie, Pocket Books, 1998.
  6. ‘Think & Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill, Tarcher Penguin, 2005.
  7. ‘The Greatest Salesman in the World’, Og Mandino, Bantam Books, 1985.
  8. ‘The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy’, by Jon Gordon, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.
  9. ‘5 Levels of Leadership’, John C. Maxwell, Center Street Hachette Book Group 2011.

Start with book 1.  Order that today, and start the pathway and journey of reading!

Since starting to read non-fiction books this has had a significant effect on my growth.  I went to a personal development course a few years ago, and I was exposed to Napoleon Hill, Og Mandino and Jon Gordon.  This opened my eyes to limitless possibilities.  You have to read at least 30-60 minutes a day, otherwise change will not happen.  Reading allows you to create ideas and gather new wisdom.  In fact, it will be life transforming.


What next?

The 4 factors presented in this post have to be undertaken daily, and every day, and it is important to be patient and consistent.  Remember that ‘Life is not a race, but a journey’.  The effects of undertaking these 4 factors compound over a period of time.  I greatly believe if you were to start today on the above, it will have a significant influence on your improvement for greater success.

‘Success comes to all who take intentional action’ – Paul Jukes

One way to learn these 4 factors for daily improvement is to undertake ‘Personal & Professional Development’.  If you start to intentionally develop yourself, you will see a significant impact on your life.  For example, making an effort to read non-fiction books, listening to motivational CD’s, attending conferences and seminars, joining Institutes and Societies, networking with like-minded people, and writing goals.

Personal and professional development is a lifelong experience, and we should always be continually refining our skills, and learning new ones.  Learning should be undertaken daily, and we should be aiming to learn something even if we do not feel like it.  Be inspired, be uplifted, see your untapped potential, and obtain abundance in all areas of your life.  By applying these ‘4 Factors to improve your Daily Performance’, and working on these items daily, you will live the life of your dreams, and you will be Successful!

‘What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.’ – Ralph Marston

The Jukes Group is committed to peoples’ success.  It is our mission ‘to grow and inspire both people and business and to help others become Successful’.  We have developed a Leadership and Motivation Group that offers a range of Services so that you can become a better Leader and Person.  Services such as one-on-one Coaching and Mentoring, a Job Opportunity Service which include development classes, Leadership & Motivation Classes, Personal & Professional Development classes, and Leadership Webinars.  Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you would like to know more about our services.

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