What If I Did Not Have a Diary

What if you did not have a diary” asked one of the participants in our practise course. 

I loved the question and it confronted me. 

The whole program is about creating a diary / schedule / life rhythm so it was a perfectly ironic question in that context and I know that the question was asked respectfully. 

The diary for me represents:

  • What I am committed to doing in the world as a direct reflection of my values and purpose
  • Clarity around my word 
  • Where I am putting my time and my energy
  • A place where I can put everything so that I don’t have to think about it 
  • A space and place to plan 
  • And a map for rhythm and certainty knowing what my day, week, month and year look like (in the direct knowledge that the only constant is change) 

So there is the practical answer: “If I did not have a diary (digital) to write that stuff down what would I do?”

In answering that, let’s assume every version of a list or notebook or piece of paper is a version of a diary. 

And then there is the question around who I am in the world as represented by my diary.

I will answer both questions together. 

If I woke up this morning and it was all blank what would happen?

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Lets start with meditation because that is where we always start in this work. I know that I am a meditator. I know that I meditate twice per day for 20 minutes each time. I know that my preference is to do my early morning meditation outdoors and in nature (beach or cliff top) and I know that I like to do my second meditation in community wherever possible. 

I know that today is Wednesday and I always take Wednesday mornings off because I teach, facilitate or coach on most Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and most Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. 

I don’t need my diary to tell me that. I do need my diary to tell me which of those courses or people are when because it is not information that I carry in my head. 


My Wednesday mornings are open, time with my wife and my children, and occasionally meeting someone socially for a walk and a coffee. If I had arranged to meet someone I wouldn’t be able to keep that in my head especially if time, location and person was flexible. As the Sit community and the ripple effect grows so does my personal network on the Northern Beaches. In alignment with my values there are any number of people I could be meeting up with. 

My wife is toilet training our 3 year old at the moment and has chosen to keep her out of daycare this week. She requested the morning slot to go for a big walk and clear her head. She knows that Wednesdays are my flex morning and so that request was easy for both of us.

I checked my diary to make sure my morning was as I thought it was. 

It was. 

And so we went unicorn hunting. 

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As the wind whipped about us on Bangalley headland I wrapped my girls in my poncho. I rubbed both their backs and breathed air into their necks to keep them warm. I was present to the beauty of that simple life moment – a crisp cloudless winters day, my daughters, the innocence of unicorn hunting, and having this time with them in pure presence. 

After dropping them home I went to the beach computer in hand. 

Meditation first and then 2 more pillar practises – gratitude and journaling. 

Those two practises are far less embedded than my meditation practise. For them to happen I require support and accountability (from myself and ideally from others) Having them in my diary, scheduled as part of my rhythm presences me to them and enables me to schedule around them as a priority and as the big rock foundational activities. 

If they were not there, would I do them ? maybe but unlikely

Do I do them because they are in the diary ? I wish it were that simple. Like the practise of meditation they take an ongoing commitment. 

At the writing of this I have 16 pillar practices. Of those 7 are strong. I consider strong as being a minimum of 85% adherence. Those 16 pillars are listed below (most without their frequency). 

My pillar practices
Date night with Caroline
Dinner at my parents
8km run – once per week
One on one time with my son Leroy
Dinner with my sons
Kung fu training
HIIT session & pool or ocean swim
Strength training session
Gratitude practice
Mens group Eastern Suburbs
Face-to-face connect with a man or men once per week- can include coffee, walk, lunch etc.
The Sit Avalon every Saturday – meditate, train, swim, coffee with the crew
Meditate twice per day
The course in miracles daily
Smoothie DAILY
Green denotes “solid”
Yellow denotes “needs work”

Around those pillars all of the rest of life occurs that needs to happen in order to live as a man creating a life that works and one that is wholesomely prioritised. 

That means everything from brushing my teeth to registering my car, mowing the lawn to teaching Shift courses. Taking children to school to paying bills and lodging my task returns. 

Lists and lists of activities of varying levels of importance but all necessary in the context of creating a life that works. 

Could I do them without a diary or a project plan ? 

I do not think so. 

So who would I be without the diary? I would be less. 

I would be less trustable. I would be less grounded, less accountable. I would be overwhelmed, and unreliable. I would cause confusion for myself and others. I would be irresponsible, and forgetful. I would be late and I would be early. I would miss things. I would miss out. I would make excuses when explaining stuff that didn’t happen. I would get less done. I would miss the important stuff and the unimportant ones. My children, my friends, my partner and community would think less of me. I would be anxious, stressed and foggy. My sleep would suffer and so would my health.

I could live more simply.

And I choose to be the man who is up for being at cause in the world. I choose this life and this way of living and I am reminded of that beautiful distinction made by Edward De Bono “never confuse simple and simplistic”

In my level of cause and creation my life has become simple. At a glance it might not look that way. It might be a little like looking at the inner workings of a digital camera with components everywhere and then comparing that to a simple manual camera. 

But what about when you point and click ? and what about the photos that are produced? 

That is the art. 

And so my life by design and in design is my art form.

And the practise is the canvas on which it is created. 



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