I have been actively and regularly keeping a daily journal for around 5 months now. Before that I sort of kept a journal, but it was nowhere near daily. My first completed journal is in a standard sided notebook, and went from March 2009 through to January 2014. Half of it was filled with multi-page summaries detailing the major events which has occurred since my last journal entry. While this may be of some historical interest to someone someday, it didn’t really do me any good.
But then at the end of December 2013 something changed.
I took a month off work. Yes, a whole month! It was the first time I had ever done so, and probably the first time I was able to do so. And since I was going to have lots of spare time for the next 5 weeks, I told myself that I would give journaling another good go.
Because my lifestyle changed (albeit temporarily), I found that I was indeed able to keep my daily journal, well – daily. And I’m pleased to report that this is one New Years resolution which thus far has stuck. While I might miss a day here or there, for the most past, since late December, I have maintained my journal entries every day – even weekends. And now I find that I couldn’t be without it.
Here is WHY I now keep a daily journal:
- It clears my mind. My mind is a swirling eddy of thoughts spinning so fast I can’t keep up. It drives me nuts. I have often wished for an off button. I find that journaling my thoughts is the closest thing I have to an off switch. It gets the thoughts out of my head and down on paper.
- It reduces stress. Often I will be worrying about certain future meetings or what people may be thinking. I get stuck on these thoughts and can’t shake the negative imagined outcomes. But when I journal, I am able to write down these thoughts – see them written – and then write realistic conclusions and possibilities for these problems. Once I am done, I find that they are less of a problem.
- It helps me focus. Sometimes I am writing about things I would like to accomplish. Then I’ll flip back through my journal, and discover I have written pretty much the exact same things a few months beforehand. This help me define the main focus of my life. Also I often set goals in my journal, and then later on write an update of where I am up to, in relation to that goal. For example, at the beginning of this year I set 4 specific goals, and because of my journal, I have been reminded of these goals, and have now completed goal number one, and getting close to completing goal number two.
- It gives me content for future use. Most of my blogs, books and speaking topics come from thoughts I have written down inside my journal.
Here is HOW I keep it:
- I use a notebook. It’s roughly a trade sized notebook. About 8.5 x 5.5 inches. Around 1.5cm thick. It had pre-printed ruled lines. My current one is blue. I know there are plenty of computer programs to do this, but I find there is something tactile about pen and paper that I like. Also I don’t have technology to distract me. It really doesn’t matter how you prefer to keep your journal, but I like pen and paper. I think this is because I sit in front of a computer all day for work, so this also helps separate work from personal.
- I get up at 4:45am weekdays, and sometimes on Saturday too. I get up, wash my face, make a coffee, and then I sit at my dining room table, and I grab my Bible and my journal. I take a sip of coffee. I put my glasses on. I read a chapter, or set passage in my Bible. After, I pray. Sometimes I close my eyes to pray, but mostly I open my journal, and begin to write my prayers.
- I may also copy a Bible verse that I find interesting, and comment on it.
- Then I write down my thoughts. Sometimes whatever is on my mind – from how I am feeling to the temperature. But more often than not, I write down the concerns on my mind. I try to nut out my problems, and work them out on paper. I don’t often come to a conclusion on the matter, but just the process of figuring out my thoughts on paper, helps me see them more clearly.
- I then finish writing. Maybe look over what I’ve written (but that’s not necessary, as the object is to get the thoughts out of my head), and then close the notebook, take my coffee and begin my ‘side work’ which I do from 5am – 7am weekdays.
I’d really encourage you to start keeping a daily journal yourself. You could start one right now. It could change your life.
What are your journaling experiences?