This sounds like it would be self-explanatory right? Journaling is one of those things on every self-care/ self-improvement lists. They make it seem so easy, but somehow it always gets pushed to the sidelines of people’s priority lists and eventually fades into the background. A few weeks later, you pick it up and decide its not worth it now that a few weeks are missing, you’d never be able to keep it up, you are too busy with more important things to take time out to write about them.
But journaling really is a beautiful thing. Read anyone’s memoirs or autobiographies. Those stories were captured in detail in the pages of a journal. Listen to any creative artist or physical athlete and probably their process was recorded somehow in a journal.
Journaling is one of my most prized habits that I have adopted over the years, and I really think it helps clear your mind, articulate your goals, and outline the path you are going to take to accomplish them. So here are my tips and tricks for starting a journal and sticking with it!
- Decide on a purpose for your journal. Really this is a big one. Is your journal going to be about just recording the events of your life down on paper so you remember the details later on in life? Is your journal going to be about a health and wellness journey or a travel adventure you are about to embark on? Gratitude journal? Business journal? Workout journal? Bullet Journal? There are a lot of different focuses to choose from and things get a lot less overwhelming if you choose to narrow it down. But all journals should have a purpose, a goal to help you with.
- Choose your voice. I know people who like to write their journals like they are writing a book. I know people who are very direct with the experiences but hardly write anything about the emotional state around them. Others like to describe every detail of their day, from the weather to the colors of the sunset. Whether you are straight forward or descriptive with your writing, own it and stick with it.
- Get a notebook that sparks joy and inspires you to write. I am kind of a notebook whore. I have had to really cut back. But when it comes to your journal and you have set your purpose, go and buy a really good quality notebook with a pretty cover that you can keep at your desk or by your bed and will inspire you to write. Maybe a really nice pen to go with it.
- Make it part of your routine. I journal in the morning. I wake up, do my bathroom routine, and then wander into the kitchen and start boiling water for some type of warm beverage, stretch a bit while the water boils. Then after I have made my tea I sit down with my journal and write. Everything and anything that comes to mind. I basically word vomit until there is nothing left. After this is done I feel fresh and ready to start the day. This happens every morning before I can even think otherwise, and because it is so ingrained into my routine I don’t forget. But you can journal on your lunch break or before you go to bed, too. It may be activity specific, like after you have practiced [yoga or a musical instrument or some other skill], after each meal, after meetings/presentations, or after a workout. The more you do it routinely the easier it is to remember.
- Don’t give yourself a hard time because you don’t write every single day. Stuff happens, you know? (If you have a certain type of journal it may not be necessary to write every day) With my morning journal, I would always skip Tuesdays this past year because I had a 7 AM yoga class I had to leave my house by 6AM to get to in time. I put a relaxed breakfast and not rushing to get ready before my journal routine. But even when I have kept evening journals, I would never stop the journal just because I got too busy to write in it for a few weeks. Once I was inspired again to do so I would recount what had happened in minimal detail and start again.
- Keep the journal visible so that you don’t forget about it! Sounds so obvious right? But sometime I will carry my journal around with me and then the next night its tucked away somewhere so I don’t even think about it
- Don’t see it as a chore, but as a wonderfully helpful tool. Journaling helps you reach your goals and reminds you of your intention. It can keep you accountable and motivated. If you catch yourself looking at your journal with dread, try to take a step back and look at all the positives of journaling. Journaling can also be a practice of being gentler with yourself. Don’t feel guilty about what you are writing if it doesn’t line up with your intentions. Acknowledge that whatever happened happened and write down how it is okay and what you are going to do next time.
Summer is right around the corner and a journal can be a great gift to a graduate or someone embarking on a new journey in their life. It can be something you get for yourself to keep track of your vacations or whatever activities you participate in in the warmer months. A change of season is a great time to set goals and new intentions, even if they are as simple as being mindful and appreciative of your experiences. Journaling is a great way to stay mindful!