In July of this year, I decided that I would try journaling for thirty days straight. I have journaled on and off since I was very young but I have never kept up the habit like this. I knew I wanted to try and document everything that was going on in my life. I wish I had started doing so when 2020 first began, but better late than never.
Since I knew this challenge wouldn’t be an easy one, I had to figure out ways to make this process as easy as possible. Here are the three things I did:
While I initially only wanted to create a list for 30 days, I decided to go all out and create a list of 365 prompts and questions. While I didn’t think I would use them everyday, I knew that having this document handy would be very helpful.
2. One page a day
This was the only restriction I put on myself. I knew that doing any other restriction wouldn’t be helpful. I did know that I needed something to keep me accountable. One page a day was easy to remember and enough space for me to actually write about the day.
3. Journals and pens
If I was going to challenge myself to such a task, I knew that I had to have some fun with it. As a lifelong writer, I have an immense love for journals/notebooks and pens. So for this challenge, I got out my journal that I love and made sure I had my favorite pens handy.
Now that I had those three aspects of this challenge figured out, the next step was simple: actually write in my journal. This turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. I am the kind of person who has to handwrite my journal. The permanency of journaling by hand, I have come to find, is terrifying. This is probably why I have not always written in journals in the past. Once the words are down on paper, you don’t have many options. You can rip out the pages but then you know the pages are gone. If you cross out all of the words, you can see that result on paper. You get the idea.
In the end, I pushed through it. I found that I loved having the questions/prompts because it gave me some direction. If there were days where I was exhausted, I simply looked to see what I had to write. Once I moved past my initial hesitation, I found that I truly loved journaling. So, here are the five things I’ve learned since journaling everyday for 30 days.
1. Writing is truly how I process my emotions
While I have a variety of self care habits that help me process my emotions, I found that nothing worked better for me than writing in a journal. Whether it was answering a question or just venting about my day, the process was truly cathartic.
2. This forces me to take time to simply be
In true Aries fashion, I love to move. Whether it’s dancing or walking or going to the gym, I am not the kind of person who likes to stop unless I’m sleeping. Journaling every day forced me to take at least thirty minutes out of my day to actively stop, sit and contemplate. I learned that I usually put too much strain on my body and that it needed a lot more rest than I was giving it.
3. The mundane moments matter
Reading back to some of my entries now, I have come to truly appreciate the random little moments of life that happen. It could be as simple as what I ate for the day or what my commute to work was like, but I found that it was important to write down. I had to consider how I spent my free time and if it was actually beneficial to me.
4. I wish I had been consistent earlier
This is the one aspect of journaling I wish I had learned earlier. I wish that I hadn’t allowed my fear of permanency to get me to stop writing down my life moments. Obviously, this is not something I can change from my past, but I can absolutely make a difference in my future.
5. I can see the progress
This actually surprised me when I look back at my words from early July. I wasn’t in the best mental state for a variety of reasons, but I could also see how much change had occurred in my life in just 30 days. I can’t wait to see what my progress is going to be like in the future.
I am excited to see how far I can go with journaling. I decided after a while that I would try and actually write everyday for an entire year. I want to be able to look back on a year’s worth of journal entries to see the progress. I want to be able to see where I was emotionally, mentally, physically and professionally. At this moment I am getting very close to 100 days of journaling everyday which is absolutely wild to me. I can’t wait until I reach the 365 day mark. Maybe I’ll even share some snippets on the blog in the future.