My love for journaling came many, many years after my love for notebooks and stationary.
This is one thing I’ve always shared with my mother, the elusive magic of an empty notebook. We collected all kinds of journals and sketchbooks and diaries and this was always the gift we gave each other for Christmas, a journal to keep empty.
My room had stacks of what seemed like brand new journals that were really years old, collecting dust on the shelves above my bed where all the books I’ve ever read lived.
My form of escape was through reading. I sometimes spent weeks on end without leaving my bed, just reading and completely immersing myself in a carefully crafted world.
What I didn’t realize is that I needed something more than an escape. I needed release.
The second thing I didn’t realize is that I too could create a carefully crafted world for myself.
I started journaling not long ago and it has now become essential to my routine. There is something truly cathartic about spending a few minutes every morning writing with a cup of hot tea, looking out the window and welcoming the first clouds of the day.
I’m naturally a scattered person. My brain runs a mile a minute, I am extremely analytical, and I have trouble focusing on one thing at once. For a lot of my life I have felt like a slave to my own brain, letting it take control over my life whether through anxiety or depression.
I’m a big believer in little, simple things that are done consistently to create great power and change. Journaling is one of these simple things that is available to all of us and it only takes the determination to explore yourself, the curiosity of what might come up and enough self-love and respect to stick to it.
Or maybe the self-love can come slowly because of it.
In any case I definitely attribute my more peaceful state of mind, my clear vision for my life and the organisation of my day to journaling.
- Journaling makes me less reactive.
- It reminds me of what is important to me.
- It organizes my thoughts.
- It creates questions that leads to learning.
- It creates a dialogue with myself.
What I’ve realized from journaling is how quick we are to forget what matters, what feels good, how cool we are, what we want to accomplish, what we have accomplished, what we are grateful for and the steps we need to take to get to where we want to be.
For me, journaling, is a form of remembering.
We are extremely distracted and it is not our fault, but it doesn’t mean that we get to play victims because of it.
We have the choice to take some time out for ourselves, even if it’s just 5 minutes to really feel into what’s going on and remember what it is we want out of our day, month and year.
Journaling or self-care in general is one of those things in which you get back more than you put in. So I really can't recommend writing a bit every morning enough.
So, here is how I do it.
(Which means: take what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t. Journaling is extremely personal but most importantly it’s ever changing because we are. What works one day might need to be changed the next and that's ok). So keep an open mind to a messy, less structured journal, that’s what it’s for.
As soon as I wake up I make my bed, boil some water for my morning tea and sit down to meditate for at least 5 minutes. If you can do more that’s fantastic and if you can’t that’s fantastic too. Every bit counts. Every long, intentional, deep breath matters.
I do this before journaling because it grounds me, it brings me back to my feeling body and I can come to my desk with a bit more clarity.
I like to do a few pages of inspirational or spiritual reading before I take pen to paper. This is especially useful if you feel intimidated by your blank journal.
Reading can get your thoughts flowing, it can inspire some new ideas and bring up some questions that you can write in your journal.
I also love writing down any quotes that really resonate with me as they tend to stick throughout the day when I do so.
JOURNALING TO DESIGN YOUR LIFE
1. THE VISION
This is a good practice to do a few times a year and a great ice breaker if you’ve never had a journal before.
Most people show up to life without really knowing why they’re showing up or what they’re showing up for. They go to work everyday, come back home, go to bed and then start all over again and wonder why they can’t create any change.
YOU NEED SPECIFIC LONG TERM GOALS AND YOU NEED THEM NOW!
The best way to start is by answering the statement:
It would be really, really cool if in 5 years this could happen
You could simply write a whole list of things or you could divide it into subsections for organizational purposes, which is what I do.
I divide mine into:
- MY BODY
- MY HOME
- MY WORK
- MY RELATIONSHIPS
This is a great exercise to not only get you thinking and excited about the future and all the possibilities available to you, but it allows you to really come in tune with what matters and doesn’t matter to you. What is a priority and what isn’t.
Also, it feels pretty great to know that we can and we should and we must design our own lives and not let someone else do that for us.
You can then scale it down to 1 year goals, and then 3 month goals.
2. DAILY HABITS
Look at every goal you wrote for the first exercise and break it down into daily habits, actions that you can take everyday to come closer to your goal.
So basically forget about the goal and focus on the action.
You want to have a book published? Schedule 1 hour of writing every day.
You want to lose weight, get strong, be fit? Commit to moving every morning, and maybe study a bit on nutrition every night.
You want to start your own food business? Cook for yourself or a friend every night, read a book on entrepeneurship for 30mins before going to bed.
You get the gist.
3. THE WEEKLY RECAP
It’s really easy to get very focused on completing each daily habit but what a lot of us forget to do is assess and reflect. This is why journaling is so cool! You don't have to try and remember what you did and didn't do or what you were feeling or not feeling, it's all written down! WOO! GET EXCITED!
So every week look at how you have progressed. This isn’t about beating yourself up because that is completely counterproductive. This is about creating an awareness and a space of non-judgement and learning to be able to let go of what didn’t work and bring on a new habit.
Maybe cooking for yourself every night wasn’t the most efficient use of your time so you need to change it up. Or you realized you had to up your gym game or scale it down for your specific goals.
Have an open mind to be able to LEARN, UNLEARN AND RELEARN.
This is also the time to celebrate any victory, however small. Write all the things you did that made you feel good, that made you a better person, that got you closer to your goals, that helped someone else out, ANYTHING! This creates a positive and grateful energy that will inspire you to keep on working towards what brings you joy.
JOURNALING TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER
1. THE BLISS LIST
This is different to your 5 year goals because this is simply a list of things/actions/people that get you in that feel good state, it can be anything from a green smoothie to a youtube video to a meditation practice to a hike in the mountains, WHATEVER IT IS WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN.
Once more this will allow you to get to know yourself and what you enjoy but also you can scan the list and see how you can integrate these little, simple things into your everyday life.
I guess these are the things that can make your day EXTRA special and are imperative to take good care of yourself, especially when life throws you a curve ball.
You don’t have to do all of them every day, but you should scatter them throughout the week.
It’s great to have that list in your journal so that you can look back on it when you’re planning your day and remind yourself to schedule in a 5minute dance or a chocolate chia pudding for dessert or a chat with a friend or a movie on netflix.
2. STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
This is probably the most straightforward journaling technique but also the most intimidating because there are absolutely no rules nor guidelines, just you and your pen and whatever is on your mind.
Writing down whatever comes to you for two to three pages can be very cathartic, especially as time goes by and you learn to write more freely. You’ll notice that as time goes by there are certain recurring themes that come up in your writing and these are great starting points for self-exploration.
You'll also notice that after a few weeks of doing it, you no longer hold that barrier with yourself and the words will just start spilling out.
It might start out like this:
- I want to write but I don't know what to write about all I know is that I have to start a practice of communication with myself so here I am showing up to do the work...
- I woke up feeling tired even though I slept for 8 hours but I'm glad I get to have these five minutes to tune in to how I'm feeling because sometimes I don't even know that I'm tired or energized or hungry or happy, I wish I could learn more about myself...
The thing with this way of writing is that you just have to let it come out and if it doesn't come out just write words and all of a sudden you'll be actually touching on important feelings or thoughts that can be explored further. It doesn't have to be perfect, in fact many times it will be straight up nonesense you just have to trust that it's part of the process and it's just as important to write a bunch of stuff that feels like nothing as it is to write a bunch of stuff that feels healing and significant.
I never thought I would be the type of person to write or give myself daily, poisitive peptalks yet here I am because they DO WORK, I PROMISE.
You might feel very silly saying these things but even if you do, feeling silly is better than feeling self-loathe or self-pitty. It's a great negative energy interrupter.
I have come to love my daily affirmations, I write them down and then I repeat them to myself with a big smile on my face and the visualization on my mind as if it had already happened.
- I am fit, strong and healthy and I can do all the things I want to do with great ease.
- I am unlimited in my wealth and all areas in my life are abundant and fulfilling.
- I have my dream job which allows me to not only take care of myself but to take care of others and help them grow and prosper.
- Life supports me in every way.
- All is well in my world.
This is probably one you’ve heard a million times and there’s a reason for it. Getting in a state of gratitude interrupts the state of lack. Fear can't exist when gratitude is present.
If you can pick out three things that you’re grateful for even in your darkest of days you will not only feel better but you’ll gain massive perspective. It's also the best training for your mind to try and always pick out the positives in every situation. After a while it'll become second nature.
There’s always something you can be thankful for.
5. INSPIRING QUOTES/NOTE TAKING
As I mentioned before I love reading a few pages on either a spiritual book or a self-development, businessy type of book. If there is anything that caught my eye or that I think I can take with me for the day or if it’s simply something that I needed to be reminded of, I write it down.
For example something I read the other day instilled the question:
Why do we do what we do when we know what we know?
This inspired a whole journal entry and got me thinking about a lot of areas in my life in which I have the knowledge to make the right decision yet I deliberately do the opposite. This is probably my favorite part of journaling, to be able to take little bits and pieces of what I’m reading and really apply it to myself in that present moment.
6. WRITING PROMPTS
Sometimes you open up you journal and nothing wants to come out but believe me that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that needs to come out.
There are many reasons why sometimes we shy away from self-reflection and self-awareness it could be fear, intimidation, ego, lack of clarity or focus, laziness etc. So here are some writing prompts to really start digging deep and get your writing groove on.
- How am I feeling this morning?
- How do I want to feel today?
- Is there anything I need to let go of?
- What was my experience in meditation today?
- What did I dream about last night?
- What does the world need and how can I contribute?
- What do I want to experience today?
- What does my ideal day look like?
- What makes me feel good?
- If I had absolutely everything I needed what would today look like?
- What new belief do I want to create that will empower me?
WHAT IT WOULD KIND OF LOOK LIKE FOR ME
It actually looks a lot messier and is rarely in bulletpoint form but just so you get an idea of what I try to cover everyday.
Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes I get really into it and it takes 30 minutes. Whatever works for you is what works for you.
This would be an example:
(I usually do this the night before, these are life tasks or things that need to get done that don't necessarily have much to do with my goals)
- Clean house
- Go to the supermarket
- Take cash out for farmers market
- Buy new running shoes
- Write for an hour (5 year goal: write a book)
- Study 4 psychology sections (5 year goal: run a successful health coach program)
- 1 hour gym/movement session (5 year goal: be the fittest and strongest I've been)
What Would Make the Day Extra Special:
- Listen to favorite podcast
- Bake a cake
- 25 min yoga practice
- I live from a place of abundance, there is enough to go around, I am not competing for resources, people, or ideas, I let everything flow through me and accomplish all my goals with ease.
- I am fit and strong and have perfect health.
- I trust that the universe is always providing for me and therefore I know I'm always taken care of.
Readings (Ask and It Is Given - Abraham Hicks)
- YOU GET WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT
- YOUR EMOTIONS ARE INDICATORS OF YOUR VIBRATIONAL FREQUENCY
- THE THING THAT MATTERS THE MOST IS THAT YOU CONSCIOUSLY REACH FOR A FEELING THAT IS IMPROVED
Ok, now go get yourself a pretty journal and write some stuff down! Don't wait another minute! You'll be so very grateful a year from now that you get to look back on your life, on where you were and how much you've grown.
Or if you already keep a journal, what are some of your tips? I'd love to know!
Lots of love,