How to See Your Growth Clearly

Written by
Michael Wells

How to See Your Growth Clearly

The 100 / 100 Journal

Written by
Michael Wells

How to See Your Growth Clearly

The 100 / 100 Journal

Written by
Michael Wells
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QUESTION
Self=development without journaling is like trying to cut your own hair without a mirror. It's slow. It's messy. It's incomplete. It's unnecessarily painful...
And most likely you won't achieve anything close to the result you were hoping for.

I write often about the power of daily journaling as an invaluable tool for personal growth.

Journaling provides a level of clarity and perspective on our thoughts, our emotions, and your our lives in ways that we simply can not achieve as deeply inside of own heads.

It leads the way to great changes in life, but often it's hard to see those changes clearly using daily journaling alone.

To achieve a better "big picture" perspective of my growth, I use a journaling variation that I call the "100 / 100."

Introducing the 100 / 100

In 2015, I first started my 100 / 100 journal as a kind of gratitude journal. It was a means to capture and appreciate the happiest moments in my life.

In times when I was feeling low, and "not good enough," I'd doubt everything, and question whether I was growing at all towards the life I wanted. I wanted to see if having The 100 / 100 handy would "snap me out" of that depressive thought cycle, and give me a sense of appreciation and perspective on life.

It did, and it became much more than that.

How it works

My approach was simple. Grab a cheap journal, with 100 blank pages.

Write "100 / 100" on the cover, and write one journaling question on the inside of the front cover...

What are the 100 best moments in my life that I have enjoyed the most?

Over the following weeks and months, when I'd have time, I'd sit down and reflect. Every time I'd think of something significant, I'd write it up with a detailed description of that experience.

Each entry would get it's own page, and in the corner of that page, I'd give that experience a score, from 1 to 100, with 100 being a perfect score where "this experience could not have been any better."

Why it's unbelievably awesome

The moment I began this journal, it felt right. It was fun. Maybe even addictive.

Up to that point, my self-development had involved identifying and focusing my attention on the areas of my life that I was unsatisfied with.

  • where am I unhappy?
  • what do I dislike about myself?
  • what can I improve?

These are useful questions, but this is a harsh place to spend your entire day.

As humans, we'll always have the capacity to see further and want more, which means that as we are climbing the mountain, no matter how fast we are, the mountain keeps getting taller.

We could reach the moon, and still feel like we have further to go.

if we always think this way, we'll never enjoy life, or even appreciate what we've accomplished. Chances are, we won't even be aware of how far we've progressed.

And this perspective is exactly the purpose of the 100 /100 journal.

What I have learned so far

Even at it's worst, my life is far better than it appears

I found so many moments to deeply appreciate in my life.

I discovered so many things that I'd completely forgotten, which mean a lot to me, all the way back to my earliest childhood. It was like finding secret treasures buried in your closet that you'd hidden and forgotten there long ago.

Even just as a form of positive therapy, the 100 / 100 is worth its weight in gold.

I'm bad at seeing positive changes in myself

The brain is a bastard. It's very bad at seeing slow change, and it's good at freaking out at fast change too.

The 100 / 100 particularly helps me with the "seeing change" part.

Every time something unique and special happens in my life, I get to put it on my 100 / 100 "trophy wall," and soon that becomes a goal. I want more of that.

Quickly I begin to notice that not only was I adding more "trophies" to my journal, but those trophies are getting bigger. Every week I was feeling more excitement and courage in the pursuit of these "highly rewarding experiences."

For the first time, I was seeing clearly that not only is my life more awesome than it used to be- but that the speed of new awesome experiences is growing massively.

Learning what you love = learning what to aim for

In just the first year, I watched my 100 / 100 change dramatically.

Whereas I started with just a few key life experiences at the beginning, suddenly, I was adding more and more of them.

Soon, I was breaking all of my personal best records, with more "highly significant" Top-100 events in my life in one year, than I had in all the previous years of my life, combined.

Stop and think about that. What had changed?

The only difference was that I was now developing real clarity over what truly made me happy. That simple clarity gave me inspiration and motivation like nothing else ever has.

When it comes to pursuing happiness and satisfaction in life, how do you know if you're headed in the right direction?

I'd never really know, until suddenly, I had a compass...

There is a lot to learn from past 'wins,' in creating future ones

When I look at the happiest moments in my life, they weren't random.

Most of the things I found myself journaling were situations that I created. They were decisions I made, moments where I was courageous, and something amazing happened as a result.

These were my favorite moments, by far.

I could see clearly how taking risks, being courageous, and leading the way opened doors in my life that I could never have imagined.

Expanding on the 100 / 100

Journal your 100 greatest 'failures,' too

Victories are awesome. They're the signposts of my life journey that give me confidence that I'm doing the right things, and headed in the right direction.

But I've realized that the "failures" of my life were just as important to me.

Why?

  1. Well, first of all, I've had some shit moments, and I've survived them all so far. This gives me some real clarity on what a badass I can be in difficult times of life.
  2. These experiences challenged and transformed me in important ways.
  3. Ultimately these challenges are the primary reason that I am who I am today- a man that I respect deeply.
I wouldn't want to be anyone else, and that means, I wouldn't want my life to be one bit different that it was.

These experiences weren't fun when they happened, but now they rate among my most cherished life experiences too. 

They needed a list too. And a new journaling question...

What are the 100 most significant life-changing lessons which have benefited me the most?

Create topical lists

You may find, as I did, that in this "ranked list," mixing all of the different areas of your life together is difficult.

How can I compare, for example, my favorite relationships, with having my first child, with making my first million? I found it much more effective to create my 100 / 100 lists grouped by the different areas of my life.

I picked 5...

  • Myself & My Mindset - values, personal growth, sense of personal fulfillment, overcoming fears such as stage fright or social anxiety. Overcoming depression, anger issues, anxiety, or limiting beliefs. Anything that happens in my head.
  • Relationships & Romance- everything related to my connections with others.
  • Career& Wealth- everything related to my career, my business, finance and investing goals, buying a house, etc.
  • Health & Fitness- achieving fitness goals, strength goals, run times, all of that.
  • Mission & Purpose- all of the deep things in my life that matter the most to me.

You may find something similar too, pick your own areas that are important to you.

Create shared lists with the most special people in your world

Create a 100 / 100 with your wife, husband, son or daughter.

This list shows you what's most special to both of you, about your relationship and your lives together. It also acts as a bucket list for things you want to share together in your future together.

When life gets difficult for your relationship, or lacks excitement, your list will remind you of what you love, and give you perspective on where you want to go next.

Final Tips

Get your geek on, and go digital.

A paper written journal will work fine, but there are huge advantages to going digital with your 100 / 100.

  1. You'll have it with you, always. If your list is in the cloud, than it's on your phone, or on your PC, at all times whenever you need it.
  2. You'll never lose it.
  3. You can add media. Include photos, videos, and audio clips to your journal.
  4. You can sort it, more easily, so you can see your top things.
  5. You can share it, when you want to.

How I've built mine...

A simple Google Sheet works great, and is entirely free. It comes with a free app for iPhone or Android that makes it easy to access and edit on your phone.

When you start your list, you can easily sort it, or add more items. You can add additional tabs to your sheet if you want additional lists.

When I have a new experience, I add it to my list, but I also do an audio or video recording. In that recording, I describe my experience in detail as an audio journal entry...

  • What exactly happened?
  • How did I feet, and what made the experience so special for me?
  • What allowed the experience to happen, what did I do?
  • What did I think would happen, or fear would happen, before the event, and was what really happened different?

Once recorded, I upload to my Google Drive in a folder, and I link this audio entry to my google sheet so it's easy to find later.

Do what feels right for you, don't overcomplicate it. Create your own process, and your own journal that works for you.

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First published on 
October 9, 2017
. Last updated on 
December 17, 2020

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