Bonus: John Lee Dumas

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John Lee Dumas is the powerhouse host behind the successful podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. He’s also released two physical notebooks (explained below) and has a practice of journaling that developed naturally which has dramatically changed how he approaches work.

In this interview, look for:

  • Why John started journaling in the first place. Do you resonate with this at all?
  • How to decide what projects to focus on. His advice here is just killer.
  • The role of gratitude in “reframing” your current situation.

Notes from the conversation:

I’ve created two journals: The Freedom Journal, all focused on accomplishing your #1 goal in 100 days. And the most recent one is The Mastery Journal, mastering productivity, discipline, and focus in 100 days.

I've always won when I asked my audience what their biggest struggle is and they’ve told me. That's where my products have come from (Podcaster’s Paradise, Webinar on Fire, etc). And in 2015 that’s what they kept saying: how do you accomplish your goals?

Why 100 days? I looked at what was working in my life. When I accomplished something short it was fine, but when it was a longer goal, I found myself procrastinating. Everyone was fired up on 90 days, so I was, like, let’s do 100.

The fog of purpose-less activity

I started journaling early in 2014, a year before the idea of freedom journal came. I'd wake up, dive into emails, into social media, and then of course emails create more emails so now I have more emails. Then I’d say, “my god I haven't done anything, let's get lunch." I’d end each day wondering, "what did I actually accomplish? what am I creating of lasting value, legacy, worth?" I had enough of those days in a row to where I finally said, ok, enough is enough.

I started looking to people like Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Brian Tracy. Meditation and journaling came up again and again. Used the Muse app for meditation, 5 minute journal for setting intention at the beginning of the day. For 5 min — 3 things grateful for, 3 things that would make today a great day, then off to my day. Then, at the end of the day I’d look back and say "did I do those things that were gonna make this a great day?"

Through journaling I got intention, presence

Don't give your best self away in the morning to things like email, social media, etc.. That can all wait. Give your best self to the project, the course, the book, that thing that lights you up inside.

When I first started journaling I remember, for the first time, actually being present. That's the thing I wasn't doing pre-journaling. I was going through motions, gasping in some fog of activity, “what am I even doing!?” I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing so didn't know what I should be doing. Journaling brought me presence, brought me to the moment. It helped me see, “you know what, this is what matters now. This is why it's gonna matter.” And it actually got me excited about what I was working on. “THIS IS A WORTHY PROJECT. This is a worthy goal.” It only took 5 min! By the time I put that journal down I was excited to jump into the project that I didn’t even know existed in my mind until that point.

Winning tomorrow today

The biggest thing I’ve learned about that is this: you have to win tomorrow today. When I would wake up in the morning, tired, shuffling around the house, chilly out, wouldn't be in the crisp, clear thought mode. So, what's easy to do at that point? Fire up computer, email, social media, easy to do that stuff. so if you allow yourself to get into that flow of waking up with no agenda, you’re gonna land in that same mode every day.

Winning tomorrow today is simply this: setting up tomorrows agenda the day before. So, when I wake up and I’m groggy and slow-minded, I can just follow an automatic schedule, not email, but instead, I’ve already listed out 1-9 what I'm gonna do today. Read for 20m, meditate for 7min, journal 5, treadmill 5 miles, kettlebell, rebounder. I'm not counting on groggy me to win. I’m counting on full of energy JLD to set my schedule for tomorrow.

Gamify your goals

This is useful for things that feel like a job. Gamifying things. Example: Going from 1 to 10,000 followers on Instagram, that feels too big, too heavy. But you could do a sprint. I could go from 100-300 in 10 days. Try that. Batch it up, block it off, set micro goals. There's days I don't feel like recording an episode. But I know what my big goals are and my micro goals. And I have ACCOUNTABILITY. My journal is an accountability partner that won't let me fail.

We all lose our motivation. Happens to all of us. Need that accountability partner. We all have our down time.

How to decide what projects/ideas to focus yourself on?

If you focus on one idea and go a mile deep you can find out if that ideas going to work with certainty. For example, I want to try out these four things, writing a book, creating an app, product in the health field, travel product. Instead of not being sure, I ask which one gets me most excited and which gets me most juiced right now and let's go all in and find out if it's really a good thing. I go in, it gets some traction, and sometimes I'm like, this isn't how I want to spend my days. Never a sure fire method, but follow the curiosity. Put the idea out of it's misery! That's the humane thing to do, stop letting it fester.

The Freedom Journal is about goals. If you set one singular, focused goal and give it 100 days, you'll know if it's working or not. What's next? Do I do another Freedom Goal? For some, yes. For a lot of others, now spend your days productively disciplined and focus to keep crushing; that’s the Mastery Journal. When I launched EOF I spent next 3mo as productive as possible about growing the show. So, the mastery journal is about moving from 1 goal in 100 days, to “how do I do this everyday of my life from here, making discipline a habit.”

Gratitude is key, regardless of goal

Both journals have gratitude at the heart. This shifts the SHOULD to GET. I GET to do X. I GET to do Y. Recognizing, reframing. I'm able to, I get to! You’re not the only person to have that crazy self-talk where it’s so condescending, down-putting in your head. This is a human thing, we all do it. So, to use gratitude to shift that voice in the beginning of the day is so powerful. Gratitude is a simple reframe of your life right now. “I’m in a comfortable house, not in Iraq getting shot at like I was two years ago. This is great.” That’s a reframe.

  1. Reframe. Reframe the beginning of your day.
  2. Gratitude. Gives us the ability to reframe. Start with this.
  3. Present. Be present in the moment. I wasn't present in the moment before I started journaling. Makes