Is anyone else tired of hearing the phrase “It’s been a rough year for all of us.”?! It has been rough; and personally, I’m over it.

I get it – we all want to move on from the tough times we’ve been through. But even though we can’t predict the future, we can still take action to make things better for ourselves and the people we care about. Instead of dwelling on how hard the past year was, let’s focus on what’s next and all the opportunities that are waiting for us. It’s time to start looking forward and leave our “rough years” behind.

Journaling can help.

One of the ways I plan to do things a little differently this year is by journaling. Or at least, journaling more often, and taking it seriously.

There are many people who think of journaling as monotonous or juvenile. Or that journaling is simply writing down your daily mundane tasks and what you have for breakfast etc. I know this because for the longest time, I was one of those people.

I thought it was something that only teenagers did to complain about their problems. However, this past year has personally been one full of tough decisions. Writing down my thoughts and feelings in a journal allowed me to step back and gain an objective look at my situation. It helped me see things more clearly and make more informed decisions. Now, I plan to make journaling a regular part of my day, and so far have found it to be an incredibly valuable tool.

Why should you start journaling?

When you start writing, something truly magical happens: you start to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It’s amazing how often we forget to do that, but putting it down on paper can be incredibly powerful. I know from personal experience that it can be a real eye-opener. So if you’re hesitant to start, just remember that this could be the first step towards a greater understanding of yourself.

Once you’ve started journaling, you’ll likely feel like you’ve already learned a lot about yourself after only a couple sessions. It’s amazing how much insight you can gain just by taking a few moments to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Plus, this practice can help you process your emotions more effectively as they arise. And the best part? Over time, you’ll be able to identify patterns and trends in your life that might have gone unnoticed otherwise. This newfound awareness can help you make better decisions and set meaningful goals for the future. Trust me, journaling is a wonderful habit to cultivate, and your emotional and mental well-being will thank you for it.

These are only the short term benefits you’ll see once you start journaling daily, but there are many long term benefits to! This could by why there are so many examples of highly successful people who wrote in journals.

Here’s where to start:

The first step is to choose a journal. Let’s not make this more complicated than it has to be.

There are a few different types: Some come with different journaling prompts on each page, and some are just lined books for you to fill with whatever unprompted thoughts and ideas you may have, or anything else you choose to write about. There’s no need to get a fancy journal, but I have always felt a bit more excited to write in a pretty journal with a nice cover. If you like the more masculine style of journal, you may enjoy a leather-bound book. Or maybe you’ll take a page from Kerouac’s book (pun intended) and write in a railroad brakeman’s ledger.

Whatever you decide to write in; write freely.

Remember that your journal is a private space where you can write freely without fear of judgment. Write whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense or seems trivial. No filters, no intentions. (Some would call that poetry.)

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Even if you have a thought you quickly want to jot down to elaborate on at a later date, don’t worry about punctuation or messy handwriting. Only you need to understand it.

Understanding what you’ve written in your journal is a key part of journaling. After you’ve spent some time (days, weeks, or months) filling some pages, take time to reflect on what you’ve written down. You may notice that you tend to have certain types of thoughts or feelings in certain situations, or that you repeat certain behaviors or habits. By identifying these patterns, you can work to change them and create new, healthier habits.

By taking the time to reflect on your journal entries, you can gain valuable insights into yourself and your emotional wellbeing.

a photo of a book that says 'journal' with a quote

Now let’s make it a habit

One effective way to make journaling a habit is to use the habit loop method. This concept was popularized by Charles Duhigg in his book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business“, published in 2012. This method involves breaking down the habit into three stages: cue, routine, and reward.

the loop method for making journaling daily a habit

The cue is what triggers the habit. It could be something as simple as setting a specific time of day to write in your journal or placing your journal in a visible location as a reminder. I’m currently using a reminder on my phone set for 6:50 as my cue.

The routine is the habit itself, in this case, journaling. It’s essential to start with a manageable routine, such as writing for just a few minutes a day, and gradually building up to longer sessions.

The reward is what reinforces the habit and makes it more likely to continue. The reward for journaling could be anything that provides a sense of accomplishment or enjoyment, such as the satisfaction of reflecting on one’s thoughts or a feeling of relaxation and calmness. For me, it’s the feeling of getting certain thoughts and feelings of my chest at the end of the day. This can take a while but, the feeling of completely filling a journal is a reward all on it’s own. And that always means I get to shop for a new one, which I love to do.

If you found this post helpful and enjoyed the time you’ve spent here so far, please leave me a message letting me know your thoughts. And if literary/writing/poetic type topics are something you’re interested in- feel free to have a look around!

Taking on a new daily activity can be overwhelming, and I completely understand that. I’ve tried my fair share of hobbies, only to give up on them shortly after. However, I can confidently say that journaling is a habit that’s worth sticking to. With time, it will become a natural part of your routine, and you’ll start to see the benefits of this practice in your daily life. From improved self-awareness to increased emotional resilience, the advantages of journaling are numerous and well-documented. So don’t be intimidated by the idea of starting something new – the rewards are well worth the effort!

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