Journaling. What is it?
I think it really can depend as there are many different approaches, and I’m no expert. What comes to mind for me is the practice of writing down thoughts, feelings and events, writing reflections on your life, or a diary.
Perhaps a journal for you is more about writing a stream of consciousness, or a place for artwork or doodles. Sometimes it might be more of a planner. Either way, it involves writing things down in some kind of book (or tablet if you’re more electronically minded).
I’ve started many journals over the years, but never really gotten much past a few days’ worth of writing. Mainly because when I looked back on what I wrote, I just didn’t like it. It made me uncomfortable reading my writings of a few days earlier – the words, the thoughts I’d written, even the way I’d written it using a pen. So each time I just stopped writing. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.
However, I felt there was a benefit in journaling, so I kept exploring in order to find other ways of going about it.
Interestingly, a couple of years back I was on a plane (yes, pre-Covid) and the person in the seat next to me had a journal out and was writing with a mechanical pencil. I peered over and was fascinated by her writing. That gave me the idea of going back to writing with pencils. I’ve always liked the feel of pencil on paper but once we reach a certain age, it seems like pens are the must have writing accessory.
After that trip, I bought some pencils and notebooks. Unfortunately though I just couldn’t find a writing groove. I still didn’t feel comfortable with my writing so I just used the notebooks for taking notes in meetings, keeping track of work tasks, jotting down ideas and making lists. I even dabbled with Bullet Journaling but even that seemed too hard.
Then I started following Brendon Burchard. He is a high performance coach and at the time had just released his book High Performance Habits. As part of that body of work, he also released his High Performance Planner and I decided to get a copy. I used it for a couple of months at the start of 2020 but eventually it got a bit overwhelming. I really love what he does, but the planner came across as way too corporate and just didn’t suit my vibe.
Finally, late last year, I decided to revisit the whole journal idea and decided that I could create my own journal prompts using some of the ones that Brendon had in the High Performance Planner and tweak them to my own style.
So that’s what I did and on Christmas Day 2020 I began a journal.
What a revelation!
It’s now been over sixty days and I’ve been journaling daily – every morning before breakfast and every evening before bed. It’s been a great start to what I hope will be a longer journey of self-development and discovery.
And if you’re wondering, here are the journal prompts that I am using:
Morning Mindset 1. Today I am excited about... 2. A word to describe the person I will be today is... 3. Today a person I can connect with is… 4. Today my higher self wants me to remember that… 5. Tasks that must be done today are… 6. This morning I am grateful for...
Evening Reflections 1. A moment I appreciated today was… 2. Today I am proud of… 3. Today I am grateful for… 4. Daily affirmation
As you can see, there’s a lot of positive statements there and the good news is that I’ve discovered that I actually enjoy reading over what I’ve written on previous days. I don’t cringe anymore when reading back through it.
I’ve also discovered from this process that my life has gotten better. I know that might sound strange, but it actually feels richer because I’m keeping track of all the positive things in my life. I am aware of how I want to show up every day, who I want to connect with, what I’m grateful for, what I’m proud of, and there’s a lot of power in that.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to try a journaling practice. Let me know if you have any questions about it. Also, I’d love to hear about your journaling story. Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.