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Starting A Journal

Abstract Patterns | 3 October 2020

The power of making it happen.

This post may contain affilate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Journal - a document with daily entries of a personal nature: everything you need to live a life you want.

I had a habit of starting a journal and not finish it all the time, since early school days forth. I never gave it the significance it should have and I was wrong.

I would like to share with you what changed my mind and how things work much better for me now and they can work for you too.

Being able to exactly know where your time goes, helps you in self-audit and brings clarity about your lifestyle.

Maybe you don't want to change anything in your life, but if you do, please continue reading.

People can achieve a lot in life without journaling for sure, but usually, it's not balanced. All life areas suffer to indulge just one and for many, it is a career and for some family. Everything else gets neglected. Since one can hold only so many things in hers or his head, people start tracking their lives to get a better hold of them.

When you start to keep tracking your days and start looking at your wishes as your goals, everything becomes more clear and, in my opinion, that way people can deliberately change the course of their lives, accomplish much more and not just in one or two areas in life, but make it wholesome, rounded.

A life best lived is a life by design. Not by accident, and not by just walking through the day careening from wall to wall and managing to survive. That's okay. But if you can start giving your life dimensions and design and color and objectives and purpose, the results can be staggering.

Jim Rohn

What Is Journaling

Journaling is a written daily record of thoughts, feelings, goals, tasks, events, tracking habits, or anything else that might help you build a structure in your life and keep it documented. It is also your best friend who will listen to you no matter what, a place where you can endlessly contemplate.

Therefore, journaling plays an important role in elevating the quality of life.

I bet you haven't think about journaling this way! Neither have I. I knew it helps, I even experienced its benefits while keeping a journal on quotes from books I've read and sentences I liked when l was learning a foreign language. But I never thought it can improve all aspects of my life.

Just think for a second what boost of good mood can you experience while reading a journal where you kept all the best quotes from the books you've read. Sentence after sentence, wisdom and wonderful descriptions; things you wanted to express but never found the right words until they were written in that book! It's awesome, it's amazing: I've returned to it for years when I felt the need for something more than just being positive: those words gave me the purpose.

My Own Experience With Journaling

As I said, writing a journal or a diary was a personal struggle my whole life. I was inconsistent, I hated to flip the pages and see a bunch of days with no entries when I forgot to write and, even when I was entering the dates manually, I saw long periods between the entries. It demoralized me to keep it further.

I know that everything we do beats all distractions when we write it down and keep ourselves accountable whenever we look into it. And there was the second problem I faced: I rarely looked into it. I would start a journal, put it in a drawer and completely forget about it.

I also didn't feel like writing for much longer periods then I did. I would write an entry when I felt inspired or when I wanted to clarify some things in my life and that was it. Problem solved, journal forgotten.

I also saw it as a burden instead of a helpful tool. Mostly, because I was writing things that were happening to me during the day (when I managed to make myself write every day). And some days were repetitive and uninteresting. What I didn't see back then is that diary and planner can merge and become a useful companion in my life.

Making Journaling A Habit

In 2016 (at the end of 2015, actually), I began my attempts one more time. I took one beautiful leather planner with off-white pages and start writing. Soon I realized that my form of writing changes from day to day.

I've had that "eureka" moment. I needed variety.

Creating Random Routine

If you are anything like me, you strive to have routine-less days. You dislike routine and hate tasks. Tasks are a burden, an unpleasantry of the day. 

Being surrounded by perfectionists, I always felt a little too random to be good enough, not sticking with proven routines. I could pull it off but it would cost me of my enthusiasm.

A mistake I made in the past was that I expected to write in the form of an essay every day. Like a diary. That's how it was before the internet. Sometimes I loved it but it was a rare occasion. Usually, it felt like a burden.

It seems a more flexible structure would suit me better and I decided to make journaling cards and stickers for various entries. I didn't like my journal to look like junk, but nicely put together and coherent. Being in love with randomness and variety, but on the other hand with neatly designed pages, only through making frames for all my entries, I saw it happen. This way I could keep both consistency and a happy face.

Starting With "The Training Journal"

For me and all those who procrastinate and just never start to journal, start with this one.

Take a notebook or a planner that you like and that you already got (because you are making history now and this is your first one, so choose the one that is pleasing to you) and start journaling. Implore your enthusiasm and dedication but name it "The Training Journal". This will keep the pressure off when you make mistakes, start a habit and change opinion, squirrel around. And you should explore all options you like because this one's your training journal.

You'll appreciate starting with "The Training Journal" later on because you'll know what you like and what to avoid, what pages would be obsolete and what would be mandatory. Later, down the road, when you start referencing your older journals, it would be much easier to you because your journaling won't be all over the place. Your Training Journal will keep all the mess and you'll feel victorious when you look at it and see how helpful it was.

Choosing The Right Journal

So, how do I fix the problem of forgetting that I even keep a journal? I realized I had to take it with me all the time. 

In the house, it needs to be on my work desk for a quick reference and when I go out it has to be in my handbag, purse, or backpack.

I am a style geek, so it makes my eye sore when things don't match. I made it my

fashion accessory.

The way I made it happen is the following:

  • the journal has to be big enough so that I can write everything I need for a day on, at least, a spread (a spread is when you open your journal with two facing pages)
  • it has to be small enough so that I can carry it in every handbag or purse I have (unless it's a small evening clutch)
  • I don't like completely empty pages. Some people love it, some love graph, some lines. I love dots. This is personal as everything else regarding journal keeping, so try writing on all those papers to see which one you like the best. Forget about school preferences - people change
  • choose a pen that you like to write with and have a spare one in your bag just in case the first one stops
  • if you find it useful, you may take sticky notes with you and use it for a purpose they were made - to add or change something you've already written or just to make some informational note for yourself.

If you are like me and looove aesthetically pleasing stuff, you will appreciate your decision to pick a journal that would be one of your fashion accessories and it will become an important companion to you for the whole year.

When To Start A Journal

Many people start writing in a new journal every calendar year, but you can follow your own path and start on some other date, perhaps on your birthday or with some season significant to you, like with Spring, when nature blooms or on some alternative beginning of a year, like St.Patrick's Day.

You might start a journal in the Advent Season. That's how you'll avoid the stress of setting a new journal right before the holidays or avoid the overwhelm of setting a new journal while still writing in the old one.

Plan A Time To Journal

Everything we don't plan, slips. It has to be a pre-determined time just for journaling. Call it some me-time if you like, but schedule it, stick to it and don't let things got in the way.

In the life of every person should be some time during the day when we are alone, think and put things into perspective. It keeps us on track with our directions in life, our goals, who we are and how would we like to progress. It's our little helper who gives us clarity and peace.

You can make it a morning habit, an evening habit, just before bed, or both, even during the day: you will hear something that inspires you, you will read something you would like to memorize. You heard a word that you don't usually use but would like to. Write it down.

Little things are important - they are our road to a life we made for ourselves, the life we love and cherish.

Make A Habit To Journal

One habit tracker that you should make until journaling becomes a need to you is to keep your journaling tracker for every single day in a year. I have seen many journalists who skip a lot. Skipping whole months is a void time where you lost control over yourself and your wishes. Anything you want in your life requires effort and organization. By skipping to the journal, you are losing perspective of what you want in your life and give somebody else to rule over you.

If this sounds harsh, I'll tell you something from my personal experience while I was working my corporate job: when somebody would ask me how I was, I would answer: "How others want".

It's not just an answer. That is how I felt. I hated it and wanted out. I didn't know then that journaling helps. I thought that it was enough to want something and put all effort to make it happen. When you do it that way, you lose for sure. Why? Because you feel exhausted from constant pressure to make it happen. Your body wants to rest and then you start thinking about how everything is so hard, how success is for people who don't get tired as you do. How they have more will power and more energy and you don't.

Well, I am encouraging you to journal every day to become the boss of your life, to live as you want, to not let others control your time with frivolous things that don't meet your wants and needs. That's what journaling gives you.

Keep track of your life, so that you can govern it better.

The point of journaling is not to spend an hour a day journaling unless that was your need for that day, but to journal consistently. So, ten minutes would be enough to jot down if you met your goals for the day, to check anything scheduled for tomorrow and to, eventually, write something new.

Track it.

Write Your Journal By Hand

This is not just my suggestion, but numerous studies have shown that handwriting helps the brain work better as it makes more connections when we handwrite and therefore we increase our level of intelligence. Whatever the statistics say, try to experiment by yourself: how comfortable do you feel and how personal do you feel.

Handwriting is so organic and lively. I love it because writing with the hand is so personal. It is not just some cold and distant font on a screen, it is my font, coming directly from my hand, mind, and heart. It feels intimate and unique and it should be just that.

Write Every Day

People have very different opinions on this one. I just stated mine. Reasons? Making a good habit. Sort of making statements for your affirmations - the power of making it happen.

This isn't your outlet. Ok, it is to some extent. But, if you'd like to change your life and be your own boss; to consciously plan and stage the life you want and not just a career or just a family but everything, make a decision to write every single day.

I write three times a day and not a lot with some exceptions. In the morning, I write my intentions for the day that I missed the evening before (it's a completely different perspective of looking at things first thing in the morning) and dreams if I can remember them; during the day I write if something major happened; a quotation from a book I read, an idea and in the evening, I plan for tomorrow and resume the day, see if I missed something, delete the unimportant.

Journaling Helps You Develop Skills of Tomorrow

We live in times of great changes. The world our grandparents lived in has more to do with past centuries than with our time. Jobs of tomorrow (and some of today) will need people to be more, well, people. So, less in demand would be routine jobs and more creative. People need now and will need more in the future skills that machines cannot have, like creative thinking, proactive doing and alike. 

Keeping your journal is like taking your brain to a gym. The more you train it, the better it will work. The more you train your creativity, the more creative you will be. We are what we do every day.

The Power of Making It Happen

Make a decision now; no matter is it a day or a night; are you at work or on a vacation; make the decision and write that down, so it becomes real to you. Take a piece of paper, white, or in color, a parchment paper, or an empty piece from a magazine and write it down. Date it, write a time and when you get your first training journal, glue it on a front page. Congratulations and


Take care,





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