How My Journal Transformed My Productivity and Goals for 2019

How My Journal Transformed My Productivity and Goals for 2019

5 min read
Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey properties per year.

With more than a decade of experience in real estate investing, Nathan is a seasoned investor with a large personal portfolio and a growing business portfolio. Just last year, through Bridge Turnkey Investments, he helped investors add over $12 million in value to their real estate portfolios and has goals to crush that number in the coming years.

Nathan regularly produces educational content to fuel his passion for helping other people learn about and find success in real estate investing. He has been featured regularly on industry podcasts, such as the Bigger Pockets Podcast (#87, #159, #232, and #319), Active Duty Passive Income podcast, Freedom Real Estate Investing podcast, Fearless Pursuit of Freedom Podcast, Titanium Vault, InvestFourMore Real Estate Podcast, the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever show, the Good Success Podcast, FlipNerd, Wholesaling Inc., the Real Estate Investing Profits Master Series, Flipping Junkie Podcast, Flip Empire podcast, Think Realty Radio, and more. He is a sought-after speaker and writer, featured regularly on the BiggerPockets Blog and found on stage regularly at events across the country.

He is also part of multiple leadership groups for top executives, including Collective Genius, an invite-only group known as the Elite Investor’s Board of Directors.

In an effort to help investors further, Nathan started Bridge Real Estate Investing Meetup (BREIM) in 2018. The group’s tremendous growth earned it the title of “Largest Meetup in Kansas City” after only three months running, and it continues to grow daily.

Nathan is a passionate leader, well-respected investor, and friend to everyone he meets. He currently lives in Kansas City on his 11-acre property with his wife and two beautiful children. He loves to enjoy the outdoors, train MMA, and come up with new business ideas to crush.

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Ever been at the end of a day and wondered, what the heck did I really accomplish today? Ack.

I really, really don’t like that feeling. I usually keep my calendar pretty tight and organized. I understand roughly what my day-to-day role is in my business and at home, and I try to plan it accordingly. But I have consistently felt disconnected from the details by which I can count my day a success.

One of my real estate buddies suggested I check out a goal-setting journal. He had just gotten one and was really fired up about it. I went online and checked some out, and I was pretty interested in how it all sounded.

Over the course of a week or two, I thought more on it, reviewed people’s comments, and was ultimately indecisive. I wasn’t convinced I would be consistent with journaling or that it would provide me with more clarity or help me complete my goals. Would it really make a difference?

Pulling the Trigger

Eventually I purchased one and committed to using the journal for the following 12 months (four quarters) to see how I felt about it and evaluate what was changing—if anything. It arrived soon after, and I was very excited to unbox it.

The one I purchased feels good in the hand. It has a heavy-duty exterior and nice paper inside. Everything text and layout wise is beautiful to look at. Inside there’s an explanation of how to use the journal, which explains what the different sections are for.

Related: Why Setting Big Goals Will Make You More Successful

Setting Up the Journal

At first, reading the explanation, I was really concerned about all the different sections. I wondered how in the world I would keep all of it together. But after about an hour of reading it through, the journal began to make way more sense, and I began to understand how it worked together from section to section.

There are a few different components to the journal. It is broken up like this:

  • Three big quarterly goals; what they mean; actions to achieve them; and a reward. You sign on that page, committing to those goals.
  • A monthly calendar view for those three months. You write in months, days, and dates, so you can start at anytime.
  • A week review with prompts for milestones; each day is laid out in calendar form; a habit and activity tracker; and several other prompts, including lessons learned and a place to review your goals and accomplishments.
  • Day-by-day pages for laying out your actual day, starting the day with gratitude; setting a main goal; assessing your targets; lessons learned; a great quote on each page; and prompts for gratitude at the end of your day.

I’d say it took me about a week to really understand the interaction between the different sections in the journal and start to feel comfortable writing everything there in its pages.

Reflection on the Journal in Practice

Keeping the journal has been a game changer for me. I have consistently used and kept up with it. I’ve not gone more than a day or two at a time without opening up the pages, writing, reading, reviewing, and thinking on my goals. Just buying and writing in it won’t keep everything together for you all the time, but it will certainly set you up to be much more aware of your goals, actions, and thoughts each day.

From keeping this journal, I’ve been better able to understand what my days look like because I’ve taken the time each day to write it out. The potential for feeling overwhelmed has diminished, because I can also look back at the week view and see what I had laid out as the milestones. In many cases, I had really already achieved a lot of those things by midweek, just by having clearly laid them out.

The other thing I’ve really liked about using this journal daily is reading back through the days, weeks, and goals for each quarter. At one point, I had a moment where I thought about doing something different from what I had written in the journal. I opened it up, read through those goals, and realized if I spent that money on something else, there would be no way I could hit that goal by the date I suggested in there.

As silly as it may sound, I was able to process through and not make an irrational or emotional decision about something in the moment.

Hipster woman teenager sitting enjoy reading book at cafe.

Related: Why You MUST Set Goals and Review Them to Achieve Anything

I also used one of the many pages intentionally left blank in the back of the journal to write out:

  1. What are some goals I am thinking about for next quarter? (And what are my  goals for the year?)
  2. What different byproducts of my goals am I excited about that I didn’t write down in here? For example:
    • Financially, what changes with hitting goals?
    • Getting more family time and questions that come up with that time spent thinking in gratitude
    • What are things I would like as rewards? And what would I commit to, to earn it?
    • Random ideas or questions that come out of that time spent—I just write it down in the back and then write the page number in the weekly or monthly view toward the front of the journal, so I can find it later

Final Reflection

There is nothing that says the brand of journal I chose is better than anything else you can buy. I know firsthand there are many great journals out there that do a very similar thing. At this point, I know this: This practice of journaling every day is effective. And I enjoy the process of pulling it out, reviewing my goals (and writing about current and future ones), lessons learned, and making a plan that makes sense for tomorrow so I know what success looks like.

If you haven’t developed a practice to write out your days, weeks, months, and quarterly goals this way, and you wonder if you are achieving your goals, this journal would be an excellent place to start.

Commit to it in your mind. Take the time to write out your goals. Write out the weeks and days. And then put it in a place you will actually open it up and use it. My journal lives in my briefcase, which is almost always with me. Sometimes, if I am not carrying my briefcase, I will even grab it and just carry it with me in case I want to write something into it.

I couldn’t be happier about this change in my life. The clarity of focus and milestones have become easier, more real, and more clearly laid out for execution and success than ever before. Trust me, you don’t need to spend a few weeks trying to figure out if you want it or not. Whether it is this journal, or any other out there that you are more excited about, go get it today and commit with me to use it in 2020. You won’t regret it.


How are you tracking your goals and setting up your days, weeks, and months in order to achieve the best success? 

Let me know in the comments below.