5 Ways to Stop Thinking About Journaling and Actually Start
There is great power in the practice of journaling. We often hear motivational powerhouses like Tony Robbins claim “if your life is worth living, it is worth recording”, Rachel Hollis credits journaling for much of her success because it helped her narrow down her intentions and see traction being made toward her dreams, even Oprah uses a journal daily to express her gratitude and watch her blessings multiply. I am not claiming keeping a journal will make you successful and solve all of your problems, but it is interesting how many highly successful people have a highly disciplined daily routine which includes the practice.
But maybe you still aren’t convinced? Journaling can be used for self discovery, gratitude, list making, goal setting, and even therapeutic benefit. This is a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself. Research shows us that this daily practice can boost our mood, enhance our sense of well being, reduce symptoms of depression, reduce avoidance symptoms after a traumatic event, and even improve memory! Every age can journal, for kids it can help them work through ‘big feelings’. And the very best part of journaling…it is your own! So you can create a bullet journal or answer preconceived prompts or even draw out a daily emotion - it is up to you.
Often I would tell myself I would start journaling much like I tell myself every new years eve that this is my year to eat healthier or my time to be more frugal. I last about 3 days and then BAM right back to double stuff Oreos and ordering another book on audible. Over time (with a lot of discipline and intentional personal development) I have found a way to stick to this habit. So here are my top 5 tips to stop thinking about journaling and actually start:
Dedicate a time for journaling
I recommend jotting down your daily affirmations and gratitudes or answering a prompt before your feet hit the floor in the morning. As previously mentioned, journaling is proven to boost mood and who doesn’t need a little of that after waking up to the alarm again?
Don’t use full sentences
This is YOUR journal not an english essay. Use abbreviations, write down your thoughts as they come to you, and let the words flow! Not requiring yourself to draft the next great novel each morning can relieve the pressure and help you attain your new daily habit. In fact, if it feels good to you simply jot down 3-6 bullet points each day.
Find fun prompts
Personally, I began journaling with writing down one positive affirmation a day. I’d actually write them in my planner too so I had easy access and this felt more attainable. Since then I have found prompts on Pinterest- some about my emotions, some were lists of my favorite things, and some led me to writing down a funny anecdote. I have included 8 prompts to start with below (PDF download included). Or Target sells a great journal full of prompts that I’ve had fun with too! One of my favorite prompts thus far: ‘You are a children’s book writer. Write the first few lines of your new book.’
Side note: How would writing from a silly prompt help me? Aren’t we supposed to be journaling our deepest, darkest secrets? Not necessarily. You surely can! However this is not Dear Diary… This habit can help you learn to express emotions onto the paper, even if the emotion is pure joy as you were peeing your pants laughing at the anecdote you were recording. This habit can help you become a better writer if you have big scary dreams of being an author. This habit can give you a place to organize your thoughts and dreams and stories which over time will feel less weird jotting down here. This habit can ground you when anxiety or depression or negative self talk takes over.
Use an app
If your hands are tied up doing other things or if you can say things more easily than you can write them this may be the solution for you. I have days where putting words on paper is too hard and I need to brain dump my ideas into my notes app on my phone using voice to text. There are also some pretty amazing apps out there like Momento for the social media connoisseur. Momento combines your posts from the day and leaves you room to make a note. Askt is an app with prompts provided that helps you get to know yourself; best of all it is free. So these are options you may find helpful, especially if a photo journal sounds ideal to you. While technology is very helpful at times I am usually a tried and true paper to pen kind of gal which is where my last tip comes in…
Make it pretty
Using washi tape, scratching quick calligraphy titles at the top of my pages, and using colored pens helps me enjoy the journaling process even more. I actually used this same strategy toward utilizing my planner which is now of the utmost importance in my life. There is something about flipping back through old journals and seeing a beautifully scripted quote jumping off the page that makes me so glad I have recorded my life through bullet points, short sentence moments, and funny stories.
Much like journaling, establishing my days in a planner has become an important aspect of my life. It keeps me on track and I forget things 1000x less (yup that statistic is made up ha, but at least it feels true). A planner blog post is coming soon so if you have any specific questions please let me know in the comments below! (Ex: best type of planners, how to schedule for a day when everything is up in the air, etc.).
Pro tip: If journaling seems way too impossible to you, but you have a handy dandy planner simply start by writing down one sentence at the end of each day within that planner! Answer what your most grateful for within that day or one thing you could have handled better. Best of luck!