5 Minute Journal Review

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I know I’m late to the party as some of you are concerned, but I recently started journaling (again). I have dabbled with journals before, both on paper and digital. All of the previous efforts have been a simple free flow of my thoughts on a blank canvas. I didn’t ever get to a place that I found valuable with journaling.  There were days that I just didn’t find motivation to write. I also had the problem of looking back on what I wrote and not seeing much value.

This time is different. I’m using a product I heard about on Tim Ferriss’ podcast on Mindfulness. It’s called the 5 Minute Journal. I will admit I was a bit skeptical about ordering it, as it seemed like a really simple concept that I could recreate on my own without buying their journal. I knew up front that it was one page per day, and each page was divided into Day and Night. I also knew what the bullet points were (they show you on their website).

Now that I have the journal and have been using it, I’m pretty comfortable in saying it’s money well spent. Right away, it’s physically a nice product. The size is nice, not too small to write in, but not so big that it’s uncomfortable to pack away in a bag. It’s a fairly rugged little book too, so I don’t worry about it being destroyed before I’m through it. It’s covered with kind of a course fabric, which makes it nice to stay put in your hand or lap (I typically journal in bed).

The biggest thing for me is the structure. For me, quickly opening the journal in the morning and having those bullet points is the key to the system. Now that I’ve been using it, I can’t see myself getting the results on my own in a blank notebook.  When I write in the morning and see those 3 lines to fill in, it makes me think about it.  Some days it comes easy, and I could probably keep going. Other days I really have to dig and be strategic to get the lines filled in. If I were doing this freehand, I think the inconsistency would derail the effort pretty quickly.

The method is important for me too. The items they have chosen to include force you to set short term goals each day that you can control, and face yourself each night. If you’re like me, after a few days of forced admission of falling short, you will start to be a lot more mindful about getting the things done that you set out to. Flat out, I’m getting things done for myself.

The journal also includes two fields (morning and night) that are centered around gratitude, and the last field is affirmations. While there’s no way to prove the effectiveness of these, I feel that focusing on these items has improved my mood and satisfaction within my own life. At times, I can be fairly pessimistic. I’ve noticed a drastic improvement in this area since using this journal. My wife has also commented that I seem happier since I started this.

So far, so good. The one thing I hope they will offer in the future is a different version for repeat customers. The first ~50 pages are an introduction to the journal. I can see where this is valuable to get started. However, I don’t need it next time. It’s a pretty minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the one thing I would pick on just a little bit.

Overall, I highly recommend the product. I hope some of you will try this and let me know if you agree with my evaluation.  If you want to buy it, here’s a link to their website.

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I made a tough choice to let my BICSI RCDD go at the end of 2015.  It wasn’t easy, but I think it was the right choice. Way back in 2006 when I took the exam, I was working with bid specifications that required the credential. It was a good decision to get it. I got a job that I wouldn’t have been considered for because I had it. However, it hasn’t really been relevant to my career since 2008. I renewed in 2009 and again in 2012, even though it was tough to get the CECs and required conference in. This time, I couldn’t justify it.

The first reason I decided not to renew my credential came down to career relevance. I’m simply not involved in the Structured Cabling Industry anymore.  To break this down further, I had to address the possibility of ever going back to that industry. For the RCDD credential to be relevant, I think I would either have to be bidding on structured cabling projects or designing projects. I don’t see either of those things happening, especially in the short term.

The second reason I decided not to renew is the financial aspect.  There are essentially three components that add into this: the yearly membership fee, the renewal fee every three years, and the requirement to attend a BICSI Conference at least once every three years, which primarily have been in Las Vegas, Anaheim, and Orlando/Tampa. The math I came up with is that it’s a minimum of $2000 every three years to keep it active, and that doesn’t consider the time and effort to get CECs retired. Considering I don’t think it relevant to my career anymore, it doesn’t seem like a good decision.

I don’t think it’s my place to criticize the program because it doesn’t work for me, but the program could be different if BICSI wanted to keep people like me around.  One option might be a way to suspend a credential instead of walking away from it. Another might be to drop the conference requirement.  That part bothered me a bit. On more than one occasion, I never went to one educational session at the conference, but still was awarded 15 hours of credit. One conference, I flew in and out on the same day just to check in. This isn’t serving a purpose to me other than forcing attendance.

Closing this chapter in my life has made me think about opening another. Perhaps a security certification or more education is on the horizon for me. We’ll see.

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