Why Starting A Journaling Habit Will Be The Best Thing You Will Do For Yourself This Year
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With the first month of the new year coming to an end you may be experiencing a decrease in motivation to continue with your new year’s resolutions or other positive intentions for the new year.
If you have struggled with reaching your goals, keeping to your resolutions, or just feel overall overwhelmed with the amount of commitments you have in your life, you are not alone.
It is human to set goals, to struggle, to aspire, and fail. You should give yourself credit for trying. Attempting to travel along the path of self-improvement is not always an easy journey.
Ryder Carroll, the creator of the “Bullet Journal”, was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at a young age and struggled to keep track of his thoughts and reach his goals.
Carroll stated that the method he created is meant to “track the past, organize the present, and prepare for the future.”
The Bullet Journal is not so much a method created for individuals with ADHD as it is a system created for anyone who wants to keep track of their own thoughts, achieve their goals, and prioritize what is important to them through journaling.
Carroll described his method as a process for taking “inventory of your thoughts” and observing what is important to you and what is a distraction. By reflecting on your daily thoughts, feelings, and habits, you will be able to better live a life of intent instead of one of meaningless activity.
Through Journaling, you have the ability to write down your thoughts, express your fears and worries, and celebrate your accomplishments.
Keeping a personal journal allows you to observe where your time is spent, what is important to you, and analyze your habits. Journaling generates a powerful amount of information about yourself and your life. With this knowledge you are given the option to choose where to spend your time and direct your thoughts.
This year invite a positive habit into your life and consider keeping a personal journal. Journaling has a whole host of benefits including helping you become the best version of yourself. If you have started this year off with the intent of self-improvement and trying to find well-being, consider starting a journal, and documenting your personal journey.
Starting a Journal
One of the best things about keeping a personal journal is there are no rules. A journal can serve as a planner, activity log, a brainstorming forum, as well as a platform for your personal journey. You simply need a notebook and a pen to begin.
You have probably had the experience of purchasing a brand-new planner with an aesthetically pleasing cover, with open space to write in your appointments, your to-do lists, and maybe some personal goals.
You are excited to write neatly, and concisely every day, and you swear you will write down everything and live a more organized life. But…. life happens and maybe you miss a few days or a few weeks, or maybe even a month and now you have this empty space staring at you, reminding you how you missed out on logging several of your most important priorities.
This happens…. when you start your own personal journal, you can easily factor in your “off days”. You create your own layout, so you are not working within someone else’s format.
You do not have to stare at open space for the days that you were not inspired to write or log information; or you will not run out of room because you are not writing in someone else’s box.
You also have the liberty of deciding if you want to have a minimalist style, with structure and simplicity or if you want to foster your creative side. If you decide half way through the year that you want to change things up you can recycle your notebook and start over, without the feeling that you are starting in the middle of the year.
If you are unhappy with a journal entry you can always tear out the page without messing up the entire journal. DIY journaling allows you more leeway and takes the pressure off to be perfect.
Journaling for Beginners
Once you have a journal that you like picked out, go ahead and start playing with what type of format you would like your journal to be in. You can make a table of contents, create your own calendar, create a grid for habit tracking, or just start writing.
As a beginner, it is helpful to remember what you would like to accomplish by keeping a personal journal. Are you trying to be more productive? Are you trying to reduce anxiety? Are you trying to achieve goals? Create a special place in your journal for those things. After all, this is YOUR personal journal.
Try your best to journal daily. This is the best way to take inventory of your thoughts and habits. Attempt to journal at the same time every day, including it in your daily routine. Many people find first thing in the morning is the best time to journal. This way you can begin the day by de-cluttering your thoughts and setting clear intentions.
However, if you are a night owl, maybe the evening will work best for you. You will still be able debrief and set goals for the next day. Whatever works for you, try to journal at the same time every day to encourage it to become a habit.
That being said, don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a few days or if your entries are a little sparse. Since this is your personal journal, you can easily adjust the format.
One common reason that people start journaling is to promote self-care. There are several ways you can promote your personal well-being.
Create a monthly mood tracker: Write about what you are feeling on a daily basis or fill out a chart corresponding to each day. Make notes each day on anything that may have happened or triggered a negative or positive emotion.
Make a Self-Care List:
Make a List of things you can do for yourself when you are feeling sad, depressed, anxious, or stressed. For example, if you are feeling anxious or stressed, make a note to remind yourself to meditate, read a book, or call a friend.
Make a Gratitude List (Daily): Write down the things in your life that you are grateful for or positive things that have happened to you recently. Try to do this frequently.
A huge incentive for personal journaling can be to promote personal improvement. By putting your goals into writing, you are bringing them to life. By observing your habits and daily activities, you can take inventory of what your greatest obstacles to success are.
Setting Goals: Make a list of your short-term goals as well as your long-term goals. You can organize them into categories such as daily or weekly goals, monthly goals, or even your vision for yourself for the next year or decade.
Writing your goals down takes you one step closer to making them a reality. Take the time to log the steps you are going to take to achieve your goals and consider breaking your goals into milestones that can be celebrated.
Habit Tracking: Create a chart to log your habits. Keep track of your spending habits, or log what you eat or snack on. Habit tracking is incredibly helpful for determining where you are and where you want to be. You can collect data over a period of time and use it to…you guessed it…set more goals!
Your personal journal can serve as a daily planner as well. Keep track of the concrete details of your life on paper, so that you do not have to depend on your memory to sort out dates and times.
You can create your own calendar. Just like a regular planner, you can create a monthly and a weekly calendar to keep track of your appointments and due dates.
Of course, you need to do lists! You can log daily to-do lists-try incorporating these to-do lists into your daily bullet journaling routine, creating them the night before or first thing in the morning.
Miscellaneous: Try to keep track of everything-all of that information that rolls around in your head, temporarily trapped in your short-term memory; but you can never remember when you need it.
Write down passwords, movie or book recommendations, the name of a song you liked, or anything that you know you won’t remember in the long run and will then spend a significant amount of time trying to dig up that information again.
Journaling Tips and Ideas:
Don’t make it too complicated-just write! You can find endless supplies of journaling tips and examples online if you need inspiration, just remember, this is purely for you and about your personal journey. If you enjoy being artistic, go right ahead! However, there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple.
Allow for trial and error. This is very important, this is a huge component of journaling. Just as you are discovering what is important to you and keeping track of what makes you more successful and what makes you struggle, you will also have to pay attention to what makes your journaling more successful.
Your journaling success can be measured by asking yourself a few simple questions:
Do you enjoy journaling, or do you dread it?
What can you do to make it more enjoyable and less of a chore?
Do you feel like you have gained any benefits?
Do you feel more organized or have more clarity when it comes to prioritizing goals and activities?
What can you do to give yourself more structure and help yourself be more productive?
If something isn’t working for you, or you would like to entirely overhaul your journaling system, it’s okay to mix it up.
On a final note, Journaling is a journey, not a destination.
This year incorporate the practice of observing your routine, what causes you to struggle, and what makes you thrive. Focus on living with intent and making your goal to find what it is that is truly important to you-and how you can set yourself up for success.
Instead of focusing on a single outcome, focus on the process it takes to reach that outcome. The rest is just…simple. Once you decide your path, you can enjoy the journey.
So, are you ready to begin journaling? Tell me about it in the comments.
Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.