Keeping a journal does wonders for my learning, mental fitness and life reflections. Let me try to explain…
Think of a good conversation you had with a friend. Remember afterwards how you might have felt at ease? That your thoughts were more organised? A journal can be your friend that listens but doesn’t judge.
It is often said that to learn something best is to teach it, to explain it to someone. Explaining your life to a journal can do wonders for you.
A journal can teach you a lot about yourself, what makes you happy and what triggers you. It can help you organise your thoughts and find solutions to difficult problems.
Ever tried to remember what was going on with you a few years ago? All the hopes and fears you had then? Only to realise that you don’t remember anymore. Your journal could help you to relive those days.
Things get much clearer when they are written down. A journal can be your whiteboard, tell it all your ideas. It can also be your therapist. It can help you offload your busy thoughts from your mind.
As with any new habit, start small. Once you started, continue until it becomes second nature to you. Only then you can develop the habit further. Don’t expect to deadlift 200 kilos on the first day of the gym.
Decide how you would like to journal. Ask yourself; what is the smallest routine that you could stick to? Can you stick to it regardless of what life is throwing at you? How often should your practice be?
About the practicalities, focus on:
- Ease of use
Find a way that makes your journal practising easy. Get out of your own way. I like to have a digital journal using a note-taking app that syncs across my devices. Much faster to write, and easy to backup. But this is your journal so you decide. Whatever medium you choose, make sure the journal is accessible to you easily.
Make sure you trust that the journal is private. This way you can capture your raw thoughts without much editing. You won’t have to worry much about anyone else reading them. Otherwise, you might self-censor yourself.
Remember there is a balance between privacy and ease of use. I once overdid it and had my journal triple encrypted, wasn’t fun entering all these passwords!
Think long-term. If you have a digital journal use a standard format that could stand the test of time. Ask yourself if you can still maintain your journal 25 years from now.
As a practical example, you can find a my current journal practice here.
Some things are difficult to explain without having the experience. Journaling can be one of these things better experienced than explained. To get a better feeling of the practice. I invite you to try out the idea for 14 days and see for yourself.