“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” – Oscar Wilde
When we talk about journal writing, most of the time we think about an outdated habit. Something that your grandmother or your grandfather did. You might also think that it’s something done under special circumstances like a soldier during the World War II or your friend that went travelling South America for a year. Study the life of great people and you will notice a common trait among them. They were journal writers. To name a few: Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Darwin, Joseph Campbell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Churchill. And I could go on. I guess that if these men thought it was a good idea to do it, then it’s a great reason to do it. I guess that your main concern is how a journal can be useful. I’ll answer to that question. You will see that it can be more useful than you think.
Why you should keep a journal.
*For struggles & bad times. One of the best asset in my opinion is that you can always rewind in your journal. It’s like time travel. You can see exactly what happened two years ago or three years ago. It become really useful when you want to see how you behave during bad times or during struggles. What was good then, might be a good plan for today. By writing a journal, you might be helping yourself for the future. Furthermore, writing a diary is probably one of the best stress and anxiety reliever. By writing your thoughts, you’ll be emptying your head. It’s like taking weight from your shoulders every time you do it. It help letting go worries.
*For decisions. Do you have difficulty taking decisions? A journal can clearly help you it that area. It can assist you during dilemmas by mapping your thoughts. You can write down all the reasons that lead you to your decision. You can compare the positive and negative aspects of all decisions you have to make. In case of doubt, you can always go back and see what were your motivations behind your decision. By writing a journal, you will observe that your settlements will be much more thought than before. You’ll be doubtless with the direction you’re heading.
*To express gratitude. It’s easy to lose sight of the good things in our lives. Negativity is easily seen at every corners. It’s not because you don’t have a million dollar in the bank or a big house that nothing is good in your life. If you take the time to think, you’ll find many things that you are thankful for. Maybe you have a job you like, a great girlfriend, you’ve beaten a personal record in the gym, you had a great weekend or you just had a great meal for dinner. It can be anything. It help see that the negative stuff is not as bad as it seems. It give a sense of well-being and more positive outlook at life.
*For your memory. It can help you boost your memory. You will be better at remembering details of your life. Seriously, wouldn’t you want to remember what you did exactly today 5 years ago? It’s crazy that we let great moments of our lives go to oblivion. By writing about your life, you’re crystallising your memories forever It will not only help you remember the good, but also the bad. During your existence you will encounter victory and defeat. A diary is the perfect way to remember what you did during those times. Repeat the good, avoid the bad. You can learn a lot from yourself. Also, a journal is great place to keep notes of things you want to remember. On my part, I like to keep summaries and notes of the books I’ve read. I’ve got that inspiration from the book Accidental Genius by Mark Levy. You have creative ideas? It’s the perfect place to keep them for later.
*A sense of personal growth. Keeping a diary is the perfect tool for goal tracking. You can log about how you’re on the good way or on the wrong way to achieve them. You give a sense of continuity to you commitment. By writing about those commitments, you think about them. The more you think about your goals, the more likely you’ll get things done. You can finish your writing session by saying what will be your next real world action. Another great use is for challenges. It was a great assist during my month without Facebook.
Starting your journal.
*The medium of choice. The first decision you’ll have to take is about your medium of choice. You can use the old school analog method with a pen and paper. For that, you will a lot of choice with Moleskin. I would say that the best advantage of that method is that it’s more traditional. You’re more likely to remember what you write. The downside is that it is more difficult to do research and to classify your entries. Personally, I use to the digital method. I write my journal entries in Evernote. It’s a no brainer because all my notes are classified with it. The choice is plain and simply up to your preferences.
*What you should write about? I would say that the most simple thing to do is to write about your day. How it went and what happened. Most of the time those will be your journal entries. Whenever you want, you can write about a bunch of other stuff like a quote, a movie you just watch, a song your listening to, memories from the past, a goal you want to achieve, something happening in the world…well you see the idea. Just f*cking start and ideas will come. If you want, you can write different journals for different things. The best example would be a travel journal.
*When to write? The best thing to do is to write everyday or almost. Personally, I write from sunday to thursday. Usually, I do it at the end of the evening just before reading or watching a film. I write for 15 minutes. If I want to write more, I do more. Sometimes, my entries are shorter. It’s totally random. Just go like you feel. On Friday, I write a retrospective of my week in different areas of my life (job/business, personal finance, health, learning, creativity and social life). I take that time to look at what I want to accomplish for the next week. I do something similar to that at the end of each years.
This will help during your struggles, with your decisions, with your personal growth, with your memories and it will give you a more positive outlook about life. Now that you know the reasons why should do it, it’s a no brainer, you should start. What are you waiting for? Let start that damn journal. If you already have the habit of writing in your journal, thumbs up to you. Keep the good work!
Listening to: God is an Astronaut – Parallel Highway