Tracy Winchell

(Demo) Semantic Goldmines: Reflections that only happen in a digital environment

published3 months ago
2 min read

Hey Reader,

Writing our thoughts by hand is not the only way to engage in effective reflection.

In this edition of Building a Self-Awareness System inside your TfT, you will learn about the benefits of digital journaling that an analog practice cannot provide.

Let's jump in.

Advice 2: Digital self-reflection is a superpower.

Keeping a digital journal is an effective method for keeping your today self marching toward the future self you want to become.

The popularization of Julia Cameron's Morning Pages teaches many of us there are only 2 ways to solve a self-awareness problem.

  • Handwriting is the only way to go.
  • Write four pages every morning.

I'm totally not knocking Julia Cameron. Her system continues to help people change their lives through her "Morning Pages" constructs. It's a valuable technique.

However, 20 minutes of writing 4 pages by hand every morning isn't for everyone, including me.

If this is also true for you, you're going to love this email, because I will show you (in 3 steps) how to set up your self-awareness practice to suit your daily-ish rhythm.

#1: Write more accurately about your thoughts.

Keyboard entries get us much closer to the speed of our brain than writing by hand.

Our verbal stream of thought is so industrious that according to one study we internally talk to ourselves at a rate equivalent to speaking four thousand words per minute out loud.
-Ethan Kross, Chatter

For perspective, giving a speech consisting of four thousand words would take more than an hour.

My handwriting isn't that fast! When I need to slow down my brain, I absolutely pick up a notebook.

Most of the time, though, a keyboard is the only way to capture bits of what I'm thinking.

Self-awareness reflections are, without question, more revealing to me when I put thoughts to pixels. It's like my fingers are telling my brain a truth I didn't realize was there until it hit the screen.

#2: Remind your today self about the person you want to become.

Digital journaling allows us to set up a system of self-evaluation.

  • Am I doing today the things that will get me to my best future self? Why, or why not?
  • This simple daily reflection reminds the only self (your present self) with the capacity to make a difference, and to track what gets you offtrack.

#3: Search for insights worth their weight in gold.

  • I want...
  • I need...
  • I feel...

(more examples below)

My Tools for Thought friends (Hey, @elaptics & @Jeanvaljean689) call searches like these, "Semantic Goldmines."

Semantic searches reveal trends from our subconscious selves.

I encourage you to take a minute right now, using the action item and the video demonstration below.

Action Item: Linking Exercise

Search your vaults for any one or two of these queries, even if you don't typically use your graphs for self-reflection.

  • I want
  • I need
  • I hope
  • I can't
  • I will



  1. What unexpected insights did you discover about yourself from the Semantic Goldmine exercise?
  2. How might this revelation change your thinking and/or your actions?

Share your work by replying to this email.

Next Week

You will learn to systematize self-accountability with two simple questions each day.

Weekly office hours accompany this series.

Previous installments of this series

PART 1: Introducing 5 Steps to Help You Build a Functional Self-Awareness System

PART 2: Adjusting Your Expectations