I’ve talked in previous articles about my journaling process. Since I mentioned journaling in my latest two articles, this is a good time to detail my journaling routine. First let us talk a little about the benefits of journaling. When I started journaling, I thought it was childish and something you only do in elementary school. After spending months with my journal exploring my inner self. I have noticed some major benefits.
One benefit is it allows you to track your progress. I used my journal for tracking my morning routine, meditation, and work outs. The act of writing something on paper makes me fully aware of what I am doing. My morning routine does not change much unless it is the weekend, or I am working from home due to COVID. My meditation usually lasts for 12 minutes unless I am pressed for time.
What I really like to track in my journal is my work outs. I like to experiment with different workout techniques. Journaling allows me to document what works for me and what doesn’t. Every morning I was doing 25 overhead press, 60 squats, 60 push-ups and 500 sit-ups. I enjoyed this work-out, but I have neck issues, so the sit-ups were straining my neck. Then I started experimenting with cutting sit-ups out of my workout and adding a second workout in the evening. The second workout was fun, but I found my body getting tired and it didn’t allow myself enough recovery for the next morning’s workout. I then started alternating my workouts doing one morning then one evening. The morning was strength training and the evening was interval endurance training.
Yesterday I changed my work out introducing DDP Yoga into my workout. I injured my shoulder during a workout and decided I should find a program that prolongs the body rather than destroy it. I will do DDPY three days a week and alternate this with interval sprints for three days with one rest day. I’ll also start doing this at night because the workouts are a little longer. It may seem like I am listing my work outs here. But it’s an example of how powerful journals can be for tracking your life and your progress.
If I didn’t document this in my journal. I may have remembered this, but I wouldn’t have had the resources to investigate my workouts. The act of writing your workout on paper is a game changer to your fitness and overall health. It feels like a disservice when you miss a workout and you write in your journal, “no work out today.” Missed workouts happen but the process of writing this in your journal makes you identify it. Rather than dismissing it.
Journaling also tracks my writing process. Its real as simple as writing down whether I have written today or not. But if I write down that I haven’t worked on an article, I start to feel guilty. By noting I missed a day of writing. I find it motivates me to write the next morning. Even if you have no desire for interpersonal discover in your journal pages. Just using a notebook to track progress in certain areas of your life will hold you accountable. When you hold yourself accountable for missed workouts or missed writing days. It motivates you to get back on track the next day. You identify that you missed something then the next day you get right back to your habit.
After I have tracked my routines and habits. I then go into something I call freestyling but if your main purpose for using a journal is weight loss, I suggest you track eating habits here. This is mainly for accountability, the act of writing something on paper makes you identify it. It helps with will power and helps you track trends in your life. If you stop into McDonald’s on a daily basis coming home from work, you can identify this trend and make changes. It may be as simple as changing your route home or stopping at a healthier alternative. Since my main goal with my journal isn’t weight loss, I don’t track my eating habits. Although if I have a shitty eating day, I may make note of this in my journal pages.
I started talking about my freestyling section but when on a tangent. My freestyling is where I let me creative juices flow and I write about anything. I could focus on something I thought about during meditation. I could write about a new article; I am considering writing. I could just be writing complaining about my job. And much of the time I am just talking about a new exercise or something new I am introducing in my life.
This is really a free space for your thoughts to flow naturally. There is no judgement in these pages mainly because you are the only person that will see them. You can talk about your anxieties and worries working through them in a safe place. Spending 10-minutes daily discovering your interpersonal thoughts is a small amount of time to invest. Investing this time will improve your thought process and calm your worries. Often the act of writing something on paper will make you realize that your worries are not that big of a deal. Spending brain power worrying about stupid things just isn’t worth it.
Initially, when I started my freestyling section, I would struggle to write a page. Now I write for three pages, and I find it hard to stop my flow of thoughts. Some days I write for three pages. Some days I write a page. The amount I write in my free styling section depends on how eventful my life is. And what thoughts are circling in my mind. I recommend you write for the amount of time your feel comfortable with. I limit myself to three pages and sometimes I cut myself off in the middle of a thought. Getting any thoughts on paper can have major benefits in your life. Even if you don’t want to use your journaling time for tracking. I would still recommend you take a few minutes a day and write some random thoughts down. You may find genius in those pages.
In my second to last journal section, I write down my goals. My goals have varied in this section sometimes they are specific. Sometimes they are general. I recently changed the way I document my goals from being general and long term. To being specific and I want to accomplish in the next 12 – 24 months. I would suggest you write down your goals. This helps you make a plan for achieving your goals. You cannot achieve your goals unless you have a plan. Some people get lucky in life, but most people have a detailed plan that leads to their successes.
In my final journal section, I list a series of mantras that I live my life by. This could be anything. Whatever helps you focus. Whatever keeps you motivated. It could be a quote from a favorite book, movie, or song. This section gives you an end to your journaling process. When I write my mantras, I am finishing my journaling. And it is time to move on to the next part of my morning routine.
Journaling has become a favorite part of my day. I nervy understood the concept until I started journaling and it quickly became something I can’t live without. If I miss some journal entries, I notice my creativity decreasing. The act of journaling releases the creativity I have building inside me. Having a small outlet for this helps improve my thinking process and focus my thoughts.
In the next part of this article, I will provide an outline for your journaling process. If you think journaling is all bullshit. Feel free to stop reading here believe me I understand. Although if you are interested in starting journaling and don’t know how to start. Follow this outline, and it may make things easier for you.
The Perfect Journal
Morning Routine: List your morning routine. I haven’t stated specific times for waking. Everyone has a different circadian rhythm. What time you wake up depends on what works best for you. Or when your job dictates you have to. I recommend waking up an hour before you usually do. Go through a morning routine and spend time working on yourself.
Exercise: Everyone should exercise no matter who you are. Whether your exercise is walking a golf course or running 10K. Do something daily to increase your heart rate. In this section track your exercise writing down what exercises you did that day. I journal in the mornings after mediation, so I write down my evening workouts from the previous day.
Meal tracking: I don’t do this daily but if I noticed I had a bad eating day I’ll make note of it. Mainly so I don’t repeat it again in the same week. But if your goal is to lose weight or just be healthier. This section will allow you to track your meals and calorie intake. Exercise can only take you so far if you have weight loss goals. Losing weight starts and ends in the kitchen.
Practice Gratefulness: I recommend everyone write down three things they are grateful for daily. It could be your family or the fact that you have a job. It could be anything. Writing down what you are grateful for allows you to see the positive things in life. Don’t focus on the negatives appreciate the positives. There are many.
Internal Reflection (Freestyle): This is the section where you let your thoughts and feelings flow. It can be your creative space or just a place where your let your negative energy out on paper. It’s up to you what you write about in this section. I sometimes write about multiple topics. I recommend you limit yourself to three pages here. Although if you feel you need to write more. I say go for it!
Goal setting: In this section list your goals. It could be one specific overall goal. Or you can list multiple little goals. I started off writing down my overall goals. Lately, I have broken my goals down farther into achievable checkpoints. Having my goals be achievable and attainable allows me to map out a plan of my overall goal.
Mantra or Inspiration: This section ends your journaling process. You state a mantra or something that inspires you. I have three mantras I have developed over the past year. I state then to end my journaling process. Each of them I discovered in books. Yours could come from a movie or song. It could even come from something your parents said to you growing up. Make this your own.
Hopefully this article helps you with your journaling process. It can be hard knowing where to start journaling. And can be a little intimidating staring at a blank page. Although if you follow the outline above it can guide you during your journaling. If you would like to hear more from me, subscribe to my website or check me out on Instagram @the_52_book_challenge.
For some exciting news I just released the first episode of The 52 Book Challenge Podcast. Which covers many of the same topics as this blog, but I hope this podcast will bridge a gap for people who doing like reading long form blogs. Check back next week for my next blog post!