GUYS! For years I have wanted to journal. Even as a kid, I’d attempt to start a diary over and over again. I have plenty of journals scattered around my childhood bedroom with the one page– maybe two– used. There was something so ~cool~ to me about having a diary to write my deepest thoughts in. It never stuck. (And maybe it’s a good thing because some things from childhood should not be documented, ha! Side note, but I’m so glad social media and iPhones and digital cameras weren’t around.)
At the beginning of last year, I wanted to try again, but it didn’t happen. I’m a big fan of starting New Year’s resolutions early, so you’re already in the habit when January 1 rolls around. Even though I had failed, I wanted to try again. I really didn’t want to fail again, so I set myself up for success. And it worked. I wanted to share I made the habit stick for me (coming up on the three-month mark!) in case you also want to give it a try.
I got this gingham notebook with 2018 embossed on it for my next journal!
ONE // Coming up with the why
This is actually a universal habit-forming tip. Coming up with the why should always be the first step in either getting into a habit or breaking one. It helps to look inward to figure out your motive. Maybe it’s health or happiness related, or it could be something that you need to do before you can reach another goal. It doesn’t even have to be a big “why;” it just needs to move the needle for you. Establish the why, and you’re halfway there, seriously.
When I failed at journaling all the times before, it was because I never had a great reason for wanting to do it. Of course, it’s not going to stick if I’m just doing it to do it.
This time around, I had two reasons for wanting to journal. The first was that I wanted to start to get in the practice of writing for personal reasons. So much (aka all) of what I have been writing has been for public viewing in one way or another. The papers I wrote in college were all for a grade, and my blog was (is) for public consumption. I wanted something for myself! The second was that I wished I had been journaling over the past year. It’s kind of like coming home from an amazing trip and realizing you didn’t take a single photo. There was a lot I should have been processing and recording on paper… privately.
I know I’m in a pretty exciting and pivotal part of my life right now and I want to make sure I’m taking full advantage of preparing myself for that. Journaling is how I see that happening.
The notebook I’m currently using!
TWO // No pressure
Maybe it’s because I’ve failed so many times, and even though I felt pretty good about my commitment, I still didn’t want to put the full pressure on myself. In the case of journaling, I didn’t want to go out and buy a brand new journal, with hundreds of pages blank and intimidating. I know I’d look at that and feel pressured to try to do the journaling thing perfectly since it was this fresh, brand new notebook! (This is why I ended up hating bullet journaling, by the way; I hated feeling like I was messing up constantly by not having a ~perfect~ system.)
So instead of a brand new journal, I dug through my desk to find a little notebook that I had tucked away. It’s small, too, at only about 60 pages. It felt way more manageable that way and I didn’t have this thought of messing up a fancy journal looming over my head.
THREE // Come up with your commitment
Whenever I’m trying to get into the habit of something, I make a “pact” with myself so to speak. For meditating, I do it every day because I know that’s the only way to stay on top of it. For working out, I feel comfortable with saying three days a week (and anything more than that is a bonus!). For my posture, I figured out times during the day when I could absolutely work on it– versus trying to do it all day every day.
I knew for journaling, I wouldn’t be able to do it on a daily basis. That would be great if I did it multiple days in a row, but my main goal would be to do it at least every other day, excluding travel. The main reason for this is that it prevents me from feeling like I’m forcing myself to write just to… write. Spacing it out ensures I always have something to write about and helps with avoiding the burn out I’m all too familiar with.
FOUR // Use prompts
So I mentioned that I didn’t want to feel like I had nothing to write about. Most days I’m fine with writing, and as I’ve been doing it more, it comes even more naturally. But there are days when I draw a complete blank. When that happens, I use a journal prompt. There are a ton of ideas on Pinterest, and you can even download ones where they give you a different idea for every day of the year.
Sometimes even after I’ve written some of my own unprompted thoughts down, I’ll still take the time to answer a question or write out a prompt just because I think it’s fun. I would say that this has been the biggest help regarding getting used to actually writing down my thoughts. I don’t feel quite as “lost” this way.
FIVE // Photo memories
This is definitely not necessary, but I have found it to be a fun little addition. I use this Bluetooth printer to print out photos to accompany posts now and then. Sometimes pictures really are worth a thousand words. I like the physical memento, and they often serve as a prompt themselves too. I only have about five photos stuck (there’s a sticker backing!) in my journal over the past few months, so it’s not like every day needs a photo.
MISTAKES I MADE!
– The journal I originally used (the one I found in my desk) doesn’t have lines. It hasn’t been a huge thing stopping me, but it definitely isn’t ideal I’ve determined. I think I’ll prefer having lines from now on just to help with neatness.
– I also know now that I shouldn’t journal when I’m tired. I reread what I wrote once when I was particularly tired, and it was particularly illegible, ha! What’s great about this is that it’s been forcing me to go to bed earlier so I can get in about 20 minutes of writing before I start to read. It takes a little more scheduling, but it’s worth it!
– This is going to for sure sound dumb, but forgive me. In the beginning, I was so self-conscious about writing because I felt like the journal would be uncovered at some point in my life and read by people. (Like I was picturing this journal being read at my funeral or something…) Obviously, no one is going to be that interested in the contents of my journal. Now I just write unfiltered and pray no one ever finds it and reads it 😂