Updated: Jan 4
How to start & keep going with journaling
If you read my article on the benefits of journaling and are now inspired to start the practice, or if you’ve wanted to start journaling for a while now but just haven’t gotten around to it, here are some of my best tips to get started.
Get a nice journal & a good pen.
Get a beautiful journal that you just can’t wait to open every day. I get a kick out of looking for new journals in book stores or on Amazon and like to get a different one every time to switch it up.
There’s nothing worse than a bad pen when you’re trying to establish a habit of journaling. I would recommend one that glides smoothly on the paper and feels nice in your hand. It just makes such a difference when the practice is actually a pleasant experience.
Fit it into your existing routine.
When creating new habits, like journaling, it can be very easy to just not find the time. Your alarm rings, you run to the shower, you down your coffee on the way out the door. When are you supposed to journal then?
Find a moment during a regular day when you have time to sit down — maybe it’s while drinking your morning coffee on your couch wrapped in a blanket like me. Maybe it’s right before bed when you’re all cozy under the blanket. Finding these little moments during the day where you are already sitting and have a little space, and integrating journaling into these moments is just so much easier than adding in a whole different ritual from what you’re used to, especially if you’re feeling a little resistance to journaling.
Just starting to write might feel very overwhelming for you, it sure did for me when I first started. Use prompts that resonate with you to get you going and help you start putting ink to paper. Below I’ve listed some that I use on a regular basis;
How did I sleep? I journal in the morning and I usually use this as my first prompt. It helps me uncover patterns when I don’t sleep well, e.g. was I very anxious or stressed the night before. And if I do find myself in an anxious or stressed state before bed, I find it useful to journal about it before dozing off. Getting the words on paper and reflecting on the reasons why helps you let go of the these thoughts.
What am I grateful for today? Using journaling as a gratitude practice will not only help you get into the habit of journaling but it will also bring you benefits of a gratitude practice. When concentrating on what you do have and what you’re grateful for helps you shift from a scarcity mindset into an abundance mindset.
What would make today great? Or if you’re journaling at night; What did make today great? I usually write down one or two things that would make my day great. Note; it’s best when they are something that are in your control, otherwise you’re handing over the outcome of your day to someone or something else and that’s not great.
Affirmations. I usually write down some affirmations that resonate with me that day, depending on what I want to focus on. If I want to address my self-confidence, and if I feel a little imposter-syndrome raising their ugly head, I use this; “All I need is within me now.”. I’ve found this sentence to be very powerful when I’m doubting myself. You can google some affirmations or just think of sentences that you resonate with and write them down.
Have an easily attainable goal.
If you’ve never journaled, having the goal of writing 10 pages is probably not very realistic for you. Start with a ridiculously easy goal that you can achieve no matter what. When you do, you feel accomplished and you might want to keep going. I usually do.
As an example, when I started my practice, I set the following goal for myself. Write one sentence. And it cannot be today’s date.
This was such an easy goal for me to achieve, that I set myself up for success right away, and it fueled me to keep going. Over the past 6 months of daily journaling, I’ve maybe had one day where I only wrote only one sentence. And still I accomplished my goal that day.
Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day.
Ok — so you set yourself up for a daily journaling practice, but you had to run to work in the morning and had a dinner with friends at night, after which you just fell into bed and went straight to sleep. That’s ok. Life happens. And we’re here to enjoy the ride and make the most of it. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day. Just get back into it the next day without remorse or judgment. You just need to keep going.
And remember this; you can only build on success. If you set yourself up for success by having a nice journal, good pen, a set time in your existing routine, just 1 or 2 prompts, and an easily attainable goal, you’re setting yourself up for success. And don’t beat yourself up even if you do miss a day or two. Or a month or four. I stopped journaling for a whole year after building a consistent practice. But getting back to it a year later, I feel so grateful I did because it’s such a great practice for me to stay grateful, get clarity over my thoughts, and most of all, just write for the sake of writing.