I have written a few times about journalling, and that’s because this habit of mine brings me so much! Yet, a recent conversation with a friend reminded me what is so natural to me can be very foreign to others. How to get started writing a journal is easy – just a few mindful steps and you are on your way.
Getting started journaling isn’t something that you need to think about too hard. Yes, there are numerous types and styles of journals and ways to do this that may or may not be more effective depending on your goals, but you can simply get some paper (or your computer) and get started today.
At it’s simplest, I write three gratitudes (person, action, thing) each night and then I set three intentions for the next day. I love this habit. It is such a powerful way to close out my day and also set my intentions for the following day. My journaling habit is mix of both a gratitude journal and also supports me with my goal setting.
How to Get Started Writing a Journal
- Dust Off Your Pen and Paper – You don’t need anything special to keep a journal; in fact, purists believe that using pen and paper is the best way to journal because you can carry it with you anywhere and you don’t need technology. So, there will be no excuses.
- Do It First Thing in the Morning – Don’t procrastinate about keeping your journal. It’s best to do it in the morning before you begin your day so that you have the right frame of mind for the day. Plus, you only need five to ten minutes, so it’s not that big of a deal.
- Do It Last Thing at Night – Another time to do it is before bed. This works especially well for gratitude journals. That way you can go to sleep thinking about all the things you are grateful for instead of things you’re worried about.
- Write Every Single Day – Whenever you choose to do it, try to set it up so that it becomes a ritual and a habit. Journaling every single day is going to be more effective than just doing it when you feel like it.
- Start Simply – Don’t start being worried about style and substance right now; just work on the daily habit with pen and paper (or if it’s easier for you, a computer or smartphone). Don’t make it hard – just get going.
- Begin Today – Start right now and write about your day today. That is the easiest thing to do. What of significance happened today? How did you feel about it? What would you do differently? What would you do the same?
- Try Different Types of Journals – Once you develop the habit, you can start trying different types of journaling like a bullet journal, or a vision journal, or maybe even a project journal for your next project.
- Keep It Private – The main thing to remember about your journal is that it should be kept private. The only exception is if you want to share thoughts with a therapist, counselor, or coach. Or if you want to turn it into a book or course, to help someone else overcome whatever you overcame.
As I said, I prefer writing at night. Sometimes I do add more than my three gratitudes and three intentions. If I am feeling rather reflective I will continue on writing. This helps me process events of the day, think about my actions, and move forward. It also gives me a record to look back on.
I recently read through my high school journals – those are 40 years old! Oh, the teenage angst! I can look back at my journals from the time I was going through my divorce and feel really good about how far I have traveled. There were a lot of decisions that I had to make at that time – all of those thoughts, deliberations. and decisions are recorded there. That is powerful!
Keeping a journal will help you deal with the things that happen to you as well as the things that have not happened to you. The main reason is that writing it down helps you remember what you did right and what you did wrong. It helps you improve your decision-making capacity for similar situations. The main thing is just to get started journaling in any way that works for you.