In case you missed it, in my last article I talked about the benefits of journaling and shared a simple practice of timed writing that can help you get started right away. I hope you had a chance to try it out, but if you didn’t here it is.
Even though I’ve journaled every day for years, I still set a timer when I write. I do this for two reasons:
The first is that I am committed to writing a certain amount of time every morning, and I want to make sure I write for at least that amount of time.
The second reason I use a timer is that it helps me to know whether I need to start drinking my tea before it gets cold! This is a real thing because there have many days when I was so engrossed in the writing that by the time I had my first sip of tea it was room temperature, which makes me very unhappy :-(.
If you begin and sustain a journaling practice, it will become something you can’t imagine living without.
Your journal becomes a reliable and trusted place for you to go where you can be who you are, speak your truth, brainstorm options for dealing with current challenges, and so much more. How many other places like that do you have in your life? If you’re like most people, not many.
And if you’ve started journaling in the past but didn’t keep up the habit, you’re in good company. I’ve done it, and most people who have ever embarked on a journaling habit have quit too.
This leads to one of the most frequent questions I get about journaling:
“How do I keep up my journaling practice?”
There are two primary reasons people don’t sustain a habit—whether it’s journaling, eating more nutritious healthy food, or a hobby.
The first reason is that they weren’t fully committed to their goal, and the second is that they haven’t yet discovered the right system, structure, or schedule to support them in building the habit into their life.
So let’s talk about commitment as it relates to journaling.
I invite you to ask yourself, “Do I truly want to journal?” And stay silent for a moment to hear your answer. (You may even want to journal about it:-))
You may not have ever asked yourself if journaling is something you want to do.
Maybe your best friend is an olympic journal keeper and has been putting pressure on you to get with the program. Or maybe someone famous said that journaling is The Thing to do, and because of that you berate yourself with the “shoulds.”
But if you go inside and ask whether YOU really want to do it and your answer is No, then please give yourself permission to let it go. (And by the way, you can save some time and stop reading this article too!)
But if you truly want to journal , let’s talk about how you can sustain the practice.
The two best ways to sustain a journaling practice are:
Commit to the shortest amount of time you possibly can. Five minutes may be perfect.
Second, pair your journaling practice time with something you are already doing.
For example, as soon as your kids head out the door to school, you can sit down for 5 minutes and write. Or, you can take your notebook with you to work and when you finish eating your lunch you can write for 5 minutes.
In my case, journaling happens immediately after I’ve made my bed, prepared myself a cup of tea, and before I do anything else. This pattern is so ingrained that if something happens to disrupt it, it has a huge negative impact on the rest of my day.
Where are two possible places in your day where you can pair journaling with something you’re already doing—either before or after?
Once you identify a potential time, try it out. It may work perfectly, or it may need some adjustment. You’ll also need to experiment with the setting, the structure, and your schedule to discover what works for you.
In my next article I’ll talk about how to put it all together, and share the five key components of a solid journaling practice.
Until then, please leave a comment below and tell me what your biggest challenges are when it comes to journaling. I look forward to reading them!
© Victoria Tidwell Palmer (2022)