So You Want to Start a Journal
Everyone says they want to start to journal the story of their life, but few do…and the ones that start usually don’t keep it up for long. Why? There are many reasons:
- Takes too much time
- Not easy
- You don’t know what to say
To be successful at journaling you have to make a habit of it. Each day you have to make the effort to log your thoughts and activities. You can do this in 2-3 words or in full dissertations, pending on time available. I read once, “How do you expect to improve yourself if you don’t know yourself?”, this is a great question. Consider starting with a digital bullet journal. A digital journal is the easiest, most convenient way to start. There are many programs available for your phone or notebook. Bullet journals can be as simple as just lists of things to do, books to read, exercise or food logs, or even projects.
Starting with short, to the point, entries you will be able to fit in the time to jot down new to do items and check off completed items. This is a great way to start tracking progress during your day to day tasks.
Keeping a journal on individual items when combined and reviewed side by side could be eye opening! Journaling how you feel each day and your daily expenses may give you insight on why you are having trouble dieting (if you are a stress eater). Maybe spending $20 a week on coffee is keeping you from saving $80 a month or $240 quarterly that could have paid for your flight to a location on your bucket list (another needed list!).
Setting your goals as a list in your journal is something beginners tend to start with. Begin with what you can to get started for the short term. What do you need to get done today, this week, this month? Check items off as you accomplish them and add new items as they come up. In a digital bullet journal you can move most important item to the top of the list.
Next you can list your longer term goals. Consider what you want to have completed before the end of the year, a 5 year plan and of course the dream list. Once you put these items where you can see them, start working on a plan – then WORK THE PLAN. A goal just remains an idea until you have a plan to attain it.
Log the not so important things too. Sometimes noting your joys and worries each day can help you in addressing those simple (and sometimes larger) nagging items that can be pushing you forward or preventing you from growing.
It is good to keep a reading list. Books, articles, and even blogs can help you learn and grow. Each day we see items that we would like to learn a bit more about. You might have seen someone at the airport reading a book that looked interesting – jot it down! Friends and co-workers often share items that they find enjoyment in, it takes a matter of seconds to forget them… or just a few seconds to log in your digital bullet journal.
The easiest way to journal is to not think of it as journaling at all. Think of it as just taking a note for later. Keeping your chosen app on your devices home screen speeds up the process of putting your thoughts to words. Maybe you heard at the water cooler the secretary’s birthday was Friday, The lady that serves you coffee each day is graduating from college, or your best buddy’s mom was going to have to have a medical procedure. These short and simple notes are just the sort of thing you can open up at the store to remind you to pick up a greeting or gift card. In this world of so much disconnection, you will gain much appreciation from these personal touches you add to not only your close, but also your distant relations.
You can see the quality of your thoughts when you write them down. You will see your life changes clearly looking back over time. In your early 20’s you may have found your focus was more frivolous than in your 30’s. and as you near your 40’s you can look back and see the benefits of changing your habits and saving then afforded you the home that you wanted for your new family.
We can only benefit from keeping a journal. It can be difficult to get started. You also could not ride a bike the first time you got on one (well most of us couldn’t). Just keep trying. Start small. One list is enough – make a habit of checking it daily. It will take 2-3 months to get in the groove. Once you get comfortable, add in another list. Soon you will be going to your journal keeping your day straight. You may find yourself doodling, writing down quotes or even writing out your dreams.
Remember it is YOUR journal; it is not there for anyone else to judge how you use it or what you write in it. Do not write it to impress you girlfriend or mom. Once you begin your journey you can log as little or as much as you want. You will find when you start writing things down, they become real. There is something that happens when you take your thoughts to paper. When you actually see them, they become more attainable. For example, if you want to go to Greece log it in your bucket list. Then a few months later you can put a link to a certain town, next you can peek at flight schedules, lodging and attractions. Each time you log an item you are a step closer to taking your trip. Soon after watching your budget you realize you have the funds for the trip and you have all you need right there in front of you. All that’s left is the packing.
So now you know how to get started.
It is up to you to just make it happen.
One bullet list at a time.