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How to make journaling a ritual (video)

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journaling ritual

We love journaling. It’s a ritual for writing about, tracking and recording your life down in paper or in digital form.

It is not about teenagers keeping a secret diary, but a methodical and mindful practice that actively improves your life over time. We recommend everyone to have a journaling ritual because it has so many benefits. Just to name a few:

  • Recorded memory. 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).
  • Ability to see what you did on any given day of your life.
  • See and track progress across different areas of your life.
  • A unique opportunity to align day-to-day task with longer-term vision and goals.
  • End every single day knowing that you did well – this creates motivational momentum.
  • Helps bring other Rituals into your life through questions and reminders.
  • Capture your own personal history.

As part of our Rituals course we’ve helped thousands of people with their journaling ritual. We have a whole module on how to build a journaling ritual inside the course and now we’re going to release the main video for free on the blog. You can watch it here:

Getting started with a journaling ritual

Here’s a simple checklist to help you get started:

  • Pick your medium – pen and paper, or digital. Personal preference.
  • Work out how your journal will be structured (examples below).
  • Decide on your structure and questions (examples below).
  • Start journaling.

The most common question we get from people who want to start journaling is “what do I write about?”

Well Padawan, we’re here to help. If you’ve never made journaling a successful ritual before, then we recommend you only answer 2 questions on a daily basis:

  • What did I learn today?
  • How can I make tomorrow better?

When you have to answer too many questions it can be hard to make it a ritual. That’s why you want to keep it as simple as possible and these two questions are extremely effective in helping you grow.

If you already have a journaling ritual and you want to take it to the next level, our examples below will help you with that. Pick the ones you like and slowly add 1 or 2 new questions to your ritual over time.

Daily Template

  • What happened to you that day (events).
  • Outcomes, tasks, questions.
    • Outcomes are the big things you want to achieve for the day.
    • Tasks are the smaller steps to achieving outcomes.
  • Write down 3 accomplishments.
  • Questions (all optional, pick as you please):
  • What did I read?
  • What did I learn?
  • What did I do to help my future?
  • How did I help someone today?
  • Who do I love?
  • What am I grateful for?

Weekly Template

  • What happened to you that week (events).
  • Outcomes, tasks, questions.
  • Review of how the week went.

Monthly Template

  • What happened to you that month (events).
  • Outcomes, tasks, questions.
  • Review of how the month went.

Annual Template

  • What happened to you that year (events).
    • As important things happen, put them into your annual journal entry.
  • Outcomes, tasks, questions.
  • Review of how the year went.
  • Questions:
    • Where did I travel?
    • Who did I meet?
    • What is my net worth now?
    • Where did I spend most of my time?
    • Where did I spend most of my attention?
    • How did I improve at what I do?
    • How have most of my close relationships improved?
    • How has my health improved?
    • How has to my contribution to the world improved, or my charity increased?
    • How has my purpose evolved?
    • What do I want from the upcoming year?
    • What roles have Rituals played in my life this year?
    • How can I sustainably create better Rituals for next year?

Zachary’s Sample Questions #1

  • How has the resistance shown up today?
  • How is my girlfriend amazing?
  • What did I learn/read?
  • What did I do for exercise?
  • What was I focused on?
    • Morning
    • Day
    • Night

Zachary’s Sample Questions #2

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What am I thankful for right now?
  • How much sleep did I get?
  • What did I do really well today?
  • What did I improve upon?
  • What did I learn/read?
  • What did I do for exercise?
  • How can I do things better tomorrow?
  • What value did I give away today?
  • What did I enjoy today?
  • What was I focused on?
    • Morning
    • Day
    • Night
  • What could have been delegated or automated?

Zachary’s Sample Questions #3

  • What am I grateful for?
  • Who do I love?
  • Why am I so happy?
  • What am I committed to? (health, relationships, projects)
  • How committed am I?
  • What is my intention?
  • What is my wish?
  • Why am I here? (time, place)

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4 Comments

Posted by Alexander Noé  | December 8, 2015 at 3:14PM | Reply

Thanks for your smart input…always! Alexander

Posted by Nick Grimshawe  | December 8, 2015 at 5:54PM | Reply

Thank you, I really enjoyed listening to your video and your tips about journaling. I’ve been journaling consistently for about 6 or seven years. I’ve developed over time a hybrid digital, paper system. Usually digital for in the moment things that happen and a morning journal for deeper reflection.

Loved the templates and the questions.

Nick

Posted by Marty Heightsman  | December 13, 2015 at 10:12PM | Reply

Great video with practical suggestions on how to take my journaling to the next level.

Posted by Melissa  | December 30, 2016 at 2:57PM | Reply

Any guidance on how to choose between keeping either a physical journal or a digital journal?

I can see how having a physical journal might make me more likely to remember using it. Because I can set that object on top of my pillow or something to remember to write in it each night.

On the other hand, a digital journal seems easier to write (typing is faster and thus makes it easier to get thoughts out… not to mention avoiding poor legibility) and it’s searchable.

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