I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned here how much I love journaling, have I? Well, I love it. It’s a habit I developed about three years ago and since I began, I’ve never looked back.
I have journals that serve different purposes:
My Life Journal: I use this to just put my random thoughts on paper and record my views on various subjects. I write about current affairs in my life and address any emotions connected to them; I write about my fears, regrets and hopes. I take stock of my life, write down lessons learned and milestones attained.
My Blog Planner: Here, I write down my goals and blog topic ideas for Oma’s Serendipity; basically, anything related to my blog and moving it to the ‘permanent site’ are contained here.
My Dream Book: In this, I record my ideas, goals and aspirations mostly related to my career/business and my life’s purpose. I put down visions I have of where I want to be. This is based on something that’s even biblical.
Write the vision. Make it clear on tablets so that anyone can read it quickly. (Habakkuk 2:2 GW)
My Faith Journal: I record lessons from my walk with God, Bible study notes and my personal messages from God.
Bullet Journal (Lite): I first heard of bullet journaling a few months ago, when I read a post on http://www.finallyfiona.com, which is run by the lovely Fiona Kolade. A bullet journal is a highly detailed organiser where you write mostly to-do lists and mark tasks off as soon as they’re completed. I can’t seem to find the post where Fiona wrote about it but this post on Buzzfeed gives an explicit explanation of what bullet journaling is. It describes it better than anywhere else I’ve seen.
Although mine isn’t so detailed—hence, the reason I call it a bullet journal lite—it still serves the purpose of keeping me more organised, but I’m actually considering practising bullet journaling fully.
The Random One: This contains the most random things, from wish lists to recipes to tips for having ‘fleeky’ skin and hair; in fact, anything that doesn’t necessarily require a whole book, but still needs to be noted. I don’t even know if it should be considered a journal, to be honest.
I’m aware there are journals tailored for specific purposes which are currently available on the market; for instance, there are actual blog planners being sold. However, I use regular notebooks with slightly more fanciful and durable covers for my journaling. Some people prefer using electronic devices for journaling; personally, I love literally putting pen to paper. Sometimes, I type my entries on my phone or tablet and transfer to my (book) journal.
I’m sure to some people, journaling isn’t exactly rocket science or anything so groundbreaking, but for those who need a little convincing, I thought to share some of its benefits as well as a few tips I’ve learned, on doing it effectively.
Benefits of Journaling
This is certainly not an exclusive list on the benefits of journaling. However, these are some of the advantages I have personally experienced.
1. Journals are a strong physical evidence that life is happening. Every entry reminds you that you’re living, that you’ve lived. It’s like taking pictures and capturing memories using words instead of a camera.
2. I once heard the following Chinese proverb:
The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.
Journaling is an amazing way to store information. You are able to record the ‘what?’, ‘why?’, ‘where?’, ‘when?’ or ‘how?’ of an incident. You document the things you’re discovering about yourself. Registering occurrences in your journal makes it easier for you to remember them and any related lessons. There are times I read old entries in my journals that I don’t remember ever writing and I’m always glad I did because of how profound the words are.
3. Journaling helps give definition and clarity to my thoughts. So many times, in the process of writing in my journal, I get answers to questions I’ve always asked.
4. Some people call friends to offload thoughts in their heads. I just journal. It’s extremely therapeutic for me. I believe it can act as a form of release when you aren’t able to speak to someone.
5. You are able to measure your growth or your lack thereof. You see how far you’ve come, not just in reaching goals, but also in your way of thinking. You see how much more mature you’ve become.
6. You’re reminded that things usually have a way of working out. I read some previous entries in my journals and I just shake my head, wondering why I made such a fuss about the things going on at the time.
7. I find that documenting your aspirations gives you something to look forward to. Also, seeing your vision plainly written can help give you the extra motivation you need on a day when you’re discouraged and remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing. In addition, if you feel you’re deviating negatively from your original blueprint, your written plans could help put you back on track.
8. It makes you more organised, as in the case of bullet journaling.
9. When done with sincerity, you are confronted by the truth in your words because it’s there for you to see…in black and white. For instance, seeing sentences like “I hate my job” or “I’m unhappy with my father” forces you to take the appropriate actions. There is something liberating in seeing words like that because then, you know what the problem is (or at least a part of it). When you know the root of an issue, it’s easier to create a solution.
1. Release your inhibitions.
Don’t hold back out of fear that the words you write may make you look bad. If your words actually make you not like what you discover about yourself, that’s good! That way, you see what you need to change about yourself. No one is perfect. You see where and how you need to improve your character. As the thoughts come, write.
2. Be honest.
Write about the things that make you happy and even the things that make you uncomfortable. Write the truth about how certain occurrences really make you feel. If the situation has caused you to be sad, record it. Are you morbidly happy? Admit it. Write what you think went wrong in your previous relationship. Write if you feel you have been treated unfairly, or that you’re so proud of yourself for a certain accomplishment. Own up to your wrongs, take responsibility for your actions; state what you should’ve done instead.
Note: If you’re worried about your journal falling into the wrong hands or you’re in an environment where privacy isn’t appreciated, you can use codes only you can understand.
3. Actually record and do it immediately.
I can’t emphasise this enough. I can’t tell you the number of times I have failed to record certain powerful thoughts because I think I will always remember them or I postpone doing so, and end up forgetting to. The worst is when I’m in a position that makes it difficult for me to immediately record what is in my head—for instance, in the shower (most of my best thoughts come at this time. I know…extremely annoying) or when I’m cooking (I’ve nearly burnt food a number of times in a bid to quickly write down my thoughts).
As soon as the thoughts come, if you can, write them down or do so immediately it is possible. If you don’t have your journal with you, type it on your phone or write on any paper you can find. Sometimes, my sleep is interrupted because my head fills with ideas or thoughts and I just know that for the sake of my sanity later on, I have to write them down.
4. Don’t put pressure on yourself.
If you can’t write in your journal everyday, do so every other day. Also, not everything you write has to be ‘deep’ and your entries don’t always have to be lengthy. You can simply write down a quote that drops into your spirit. I do this all the time.
If you aren’t happy nor satisfied with your life, do what you can, to change the things you have control over.
– Oma’s Serendipity
So, do you journal? If no, I hope this post has convinced you to begin. I honestly can’t recommend journaling enough. It’s a habit I feel everyone should practice. If yes, has it been helpful to you or not? Do you think it’s a waste of time? What journaling tips can you share?
I would love to know your thoughts.