I wish I were a better journal writer.
That is what I used to think all the time. I mean seriously, I have started and not finished about 30,000 journals. Okay, I’m exaggerating, maybe it’s closer to 3,000.
For the longest time I just couldn’t finish a journal. I would try so hard to journal the way that I thought everyone else was journaling. In my mind there was a right way to journal and I just couldn’t do it.
I had several diaries when I was young, writing down all of my thoughts and daily happenings. I tried this type of journalling for a really long time, never being consistent and ultimately feeling like a failure.
When I got pregnant with Harrison I tried to journal about my pregnancy and life after having him. I tried. I really did. I was pretty successful during my pregnancy, but afterward…forget about it! I still fight the urge to beat myself up for not following through and documenting something so monumental in my life.
Beginning this past January I began doing a “Line a Day” type of journal. For this journal you write one sentence about your day, every day. I have had moderate success with it, but often I’m writing down sentences for several days because I’m behind. By the way, the month of June got zero sentences. ZERO! I didn’t even devote a page in my planner to the month of July.
By far the journal that I have had the most success with is my morning journal. I think I’ve written about it before and I know that I have talked about it on my podcast, Gathered Courage. Each morning I write a prayer, 5 detailed things I am grateful for from the day before and 10 “I am” statements. The latter are statements that state something that I want to be true in my life. Things like, “I am a present mom” or “I am a published author.”
I tell you about my journey in journaling because I am convinced that we need to stop putting a right and wrong way of doing things on actions that are meant to benefit us, such as journaling.
You are allowed to look up all the suggested ways of journaling and follow one way very specifically…or not.
You can try a bunch of different ways and be okay with the fact that you didn’t finish strong or stay the course or complete it everyday.
Basically, I found that when I finally let go of how I thought I was supposed to journal I was able to decide why I wanted to journal and make it work for me.
I’ve discovered that I am horrible at writing about my life unless it is directed as a prayer. I’ve also discovered that overall gratitude is a posture I am naturally bent toward, but finding gratitude for the day to day is harder. Lastly, writing down the goals and wishes I have for my life helps me to get them out of my head and put in motion. This way of journaling brings me so much joy.
Since then, I’ve finished 8 notebooks. EIGHT! I am so stinking proud of myself. Plus, my husband doesn’t question me now when I pick up a pretty new notebook — so worth it!
After some trial and error on your own journaling journey, you might even decide journaling just isn’t for you! GASP! The same thing goes for gardening, painting, crossfit and kayaking.
The deeper lesson in this is that we ultimately shouldn’t determine our successes and failures based on the way others do things and that what is life giving to someone else doesn’t have to be life giving to you too.
I’ll close with a quote from one of my favorite podcasters, Kendra Adachi from “The Lazy Genius Podcast.” If you have been reading our blog for any length of time, I’m sure you saw this coming :) Her advise, no matter the thing your are trying to achieve or problem you are trying to solve is to “name what matters.” So do just that, and have so much fun journalling the way that matters to you — or not journaling at all, that’s an option too.