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Journaling Challenge Day 3: Find Your Why

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Woman writing in her diary at sunset

Challenge #3: Write down in your journal WHY journaling is important to you.

Journaling, like any habit, will not last long unless you can create the intrinsic motivation to follow through and actually do it.

Think about all the people who make a New Year’s resolution to join the gym and get in shape. For the first couple weeks, the gym is packed with people who are excited about their new “habit.” They are motivated to make positive life changes and they honestly intend to give whatever level of effort is required in order to achieve their fitness goals.

But around week 3, a funny thing happens – people stop showing up.

Were all those people who decided the extra hour of sleep was more important than getting in their run before work fakers? Did they have change of heart regarding the benefits of exercise? Did they suffer some career-ending injury?

Probably not.

I would wager that if you asked most of the people who stopped going to gym if they still intended to achieve their fitness goals, they’d say “yes.” But the reason they don’t follow through is because they’ve lost sight of their why.

When it comes to journaling, there are many good reasons why you should journal:

  • It helps you “re-center” and keep focused on what’s important. The simple process of actually writing down what you did well (and didn’t do well) helps you identify which tasks and projects are worthwhile for you to pursue and which ones are not worthy of your time. Journaling is a unique opportunity to align your day-to-day tasks with your longer-term vision and goals.
  • It helps you keep track of what you’re doing. Journaling tells you in a very real, everyday way what you’ve done, and what you haven’t, and what you’re working on.
  • It provides a written record of your progress. Journaling makes it very easy to see the progress you’re making.
  • It provides a recorded memory of what has happened to you. By writing things down, you have a record of what has happened to you, daily. This is especially great if you have a leaky brain (bad memory) and tend to forget things.
  • It calls you out on self-delusion. Nothing points out faster that you’re stalling progress or continuously putting something off than a set of consecutive journal entries that read “I didn’t get around to it”. It, along with time tracking, also answers the all-important question of if you’re spending time on the things that matter.
  • It makes your weekly and monthly reviews that much easier to write. Journaling allows you to know exactly what you did (or didn’t), and when.

Whichever of these reasons strikes you, attach yourself to it. Without a why, your rituals and habits won’t stick. Your why for journaling can be anything, but you do need a reason and you need to keep it fresh – otherwise you’ll end up like one of those people with good intentions who just can’t seem to follow-through and accomplish their goals.

Takeaway

Ask yourself “why do I want to journal?” Find your “why” and write it down. Write it in your journal if you have a physical journal or create a new note in your digital journal.

Update: Challenge #4 is now available.

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5 Comments

Posted by Dave  | December 16, 2015 at 9:05AM | Reply

There are several reasons I journal. One is to see how I’ve progressed throughout the month and, eventually, the year. Another reason, is to help organize my thoughts about the day, an event in the day, etc. It helps me see where I’m not thinking clearly, rationally, etc.

Posted by Laynie  | December 17, 2015 at 12:06AM | Reply

After reading Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, I’m intrigued to learn more about myself. I plan to do a personal review in a few months or so (I just recently started journaling). What better way than to read my journal entries from the past few months to see where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced.

Posted by Melissa  | December 17, 2015 at 6:33AM | Reply

I’ve done work journals sporadically over the past few years. Now, at set time 7:30, I rate my day in a 1-5 star fashion. What I found by reflecting on my day was that I’d often done more that it felt like, so the star rating would go up by a half or whole star.

Posted by Tanya  | December 18, 2015 at 11:50AM | Reply

I am hoping to gain more clarity by taking this time to look at the big picture. I’m planning on starting the week on Sunday with an additional look at the week up front, and see how this changes my perspective day to day. Like Melissa, I have found that I do a lot of things that involve planning and decision making, but don’t have a deliverable. This process is also helping me to identify the Daily Frog!

Posted by Paul  | January 3, 2016 at 4:47AM | Reply

At the beginning of 2015 I “forced” myself to journal on a daily basis. I had heard so many good things about it and all the successful people seemed to be doing it. I tracked my progress using coach.me to make it a bit of a game.

But, I struggled with it and found it more of a chore than anything. I followed a structure from Robin Sharma and tried to write something under each sub heading every day. After about 200 days asked myself why I was doing it, couldn’t think of a good reason so stopped it.

Funny thing is that after about a week I started to miss sitting down and brain dumping my thoughts and ideas each day. So I started it up again but left it as free flowing with only one criteria I had to write every day – gratitude for something.

I took the pressure off myself with the free flowing style so it didn’t matter how much I wrote or what about. Some days its a couple of sentences and some days its creeping up to a 1000 words. Depends on time I have available and what’s going on in my life and my head that day.

I really enjoy journalling now and find it constructive in getting my thoughts written out.

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