"We should every night call ourselves to an account; What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abort of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift."
Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)
We have some many fabulous experiences during the day. It is too bad that we do not take a few minutes to reflect on them to make most out of our experiences. We may occasionally think about the experiences. But, it is not very focused. Many times our thinking about the happenings becomes very subjective and swings between extremes of likes and dislikes.
Some people make it a point to maintain a daily diary or journal. It is one of the most effective ways to make most of your experiences and learn very effectively from good and bad experiences. When we start writing, our thinking becomes clearer. That's why they say - "when you start inking, you start thinking." Whenever we are confused, we should simply start writing. We may not go very far. But, at least, the questions start becoming clear. It is never easy to make initial progress because with every line you write, you will come up with 10 questions that need answers. You have to get answers from 20 people and they are not all available at the same time. But, it makes sense to capture all those questions rather than giving up work. Slow and steady is ok. Giving up in exasperation is not.
It is very important to reflect on our achievements however small they may be. There is no better way to boost our confidence. We can be humble and at the same time be proud of our achievements and our ability. It does not hurt to act confident till we are really confident. Most of the people suffer from similar self doubt as we do and in many cases many times worse that we do. Knowing this, when we act confident, things start falling in place. People like to be around people who come across as confident. Even if we have to admit some mistakes or some lack of knowledge etc., we should do with confidence. Confidence is the belief in ourselves that we are up to the task.
It is also important to remember and feel good about bad habits we have reduced or given up. It can be physical habits such as smoking or drinking or over eating. It can also be psychological bad habits such as anger, hate, greed etc. Even if our conscience warns us when we feel those negative habits, we have had a small victory. We should celebrate them. It only strengthens our motivation.
Some people use 10 minutes before going to bed to reflect. That is a great idea, if you can follow. Writing a diary or journal is the best idea but requires a lot of commitment and time and perseverance to make any sense. As such we have very little time. It takes good 20 minutes to write something completely and meaningfully. Doing it day in and day out is not something that is easy. But, those who write daily and refer to those writings from time to time reap huge benefits as they can go back refer to lessons learned at their will and keep fine tuning their personal improvement plan.
Some people hesitate to write daily journal because of privacy issues. That's true if you think your writing can be used against you. It all depends on how well and how objectively you can write. If you record every small detail and focus more on actual details than the crux, it misses the point and can cause issues. It is possible to record one's day-to-day activities without making it too personal. Write like they report in news papers.
Important thing is to start maintaining a journal. Forget privacy concerns for a while. Why do successful people keep saying that their lives are like an open book? Are they not worried about their privacy? No, they are very secure about themselves. They know that even if they reveal everything, nothing can shake their security. If Gandhi were to feel like us, we would not have been lucky to read his 'My experiments with truth' in which he bares open himself and his idiosyncrasies. Although it can be awkward, if we are really secure and do not mind getting some remarks, living like a open book should not bother us at all.