How to Start Journaling and Keep Up the Habit

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“The best time to begin keeping a journal is whenever you decide to.”

Hannah Hinchman, A Life In Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal

Have you ever thought about keeping a journal? Maybe you have but thought you didn’t want to keep a book of all your thoughts and feelings for the day. Trust me, I get it.

That’s actually called a diary—and while a diary is a type of journal, not all journals are diaries! You can keep a journal to document your progress on anything without even touching your emotions.

Though I would recommend touching them just a little bit while you journal. It’s something everyone should do for a little self-discovery and possibly a bit of self-therapy as well.

Journaling may seem as easy as just picking up a pen and writing, but that also makes it easy to quit. Really, you need to

  • understand why you want to start journaling,
  • know how to motivate yourself to keep journaling, and
  • decide what kind of journal you want to create.

This post will guide you through the process! It’s lengthy, but you’ll be more prepared to start your journal after reading through it.

Reasons Why Everyone Should Have a Journal

Before we tackle the entrepreneur-specific stuff, let’s look at some different reasons everyone should journal regularly. Business owners are normal people with normal people problems too, right?

Journaling helps with mental and physical health

A major benefit of writing in a journal every day is that it can help both your mental and physical health. Journaling helps you figure out what is causing your stress, lets you see why your anxiety is plummeting and can help with your depression.

For physical health, journaling can help you lose weight or manage your weight, find out why you have certain ailments, and narrow down the reasons you aren’t drinking enough water each day. You can be a healthier person overall just by having a journal.

You can feel safe while releasing your emotions

It’s hard to talk to someone about what you are thinking or feeling because you are embarrassed or feel like you will be judged for it. A journal is a good way to express all those feelings and not worry about something reading it or looking at you differently.

Sometimes you need to get certain things out of your mind, and keeping a private journal is the perfect way to do that without any extra anxiety.

You can find out new things about yourself

Keeping a journal can also help you gain more clarity into who you are and what you want out of life. Make it a challenge to just start writing on a page, without thinking too hard beforehand. Just start with one word and keep going.

You will be amazed by how much you learn about yourself. You may start venting about something you didn’t know bothered you so much. It’s possible that it’s the opposite and you are more positive and optimistic about a person or situation than you thought you would be.

In some cases, you talk more about what you want to accomplish, and this journal helps you to come up with actionable things you can do to achieve those dreams.

It becomes a comfort when dealing with stress

Stress is a powerful thing, much more powerful than people give it credit for. Stress can affect nearly every part of your life, including your mental and physical wellbeing.

And as entrepreneurs, having to deal with every aspect of our business alone—or even with a partner—can be super stressful!

It’s important that you try to reduce your stress in any way you can, such as journaling. Writing in your journal helps you identify what is leading to your stress, which helps you determine what you can do to stop it.

“My journal has become a paper mirror, a topographic map to my mind. It is where I go to sort out confusion and decipher the invisible.”

Dawna Markova, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion

Motivate Yourself to Journal Daily

Knowing why you should journal is just the beginning. You then need to motivate yourself to keep up with it.

It’s generally recommended that you write in your journal every day, but at least doing it on a regular basis is better than nothing. Take a look at these easy ways to motivate yourself to keep writing in the journal.

Have a good reason to keep a journal

First of all, you need to know exactly why you are journaling in the first place. You really need to think about the benefits of journaling and decide what your personal reason is for writing in the journal.

This is often a personal decision, such as wanting to figure out why your anxiety or depression has increased or wanting to express your feelings in a way where you feel safe and not judged. Decide what your individual reason is, and it will motivate you to keep writing.

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Choose the right type of journal

The journal you write in also makes a difference in motivating you to use it. If it’s a large journal that doesn’t fit in your purse, you probably won’t use it often. For example, the mood for writing may strike during your lunch break when you’re in the lunchroom, and it helps to have the journal available at that time.

Your journal should be something you can access at any time, such as putting it in your laptop bag, briefcase, handbag, or even the glove box of your vehicle.

Decide on a method you want to use

There may also be a certain type or method of journaling that becomes more motivational to you than other methods. It’s possible you are not someone to write long sentences and paragraphs, you really enjoy keeping track of everything with bullet journaling.

On the other hand, when discovering different forms of journaling, you may want to simply keep a regular daily journal or a food journal if you are trying to lose weight. Find the type of journal you want to keep, and you will find the motivation to continue doing it each day.

Make it more creative

Perhaps what will motivate you is making journaling more interesting. You could be someone ho enjoys colors and pictures more than plain text, so if you have fun colorful pens and various art supplies, you are much more willing to keep up with your daily journaling than using a plain black or blue pen.

“Documenting little details of your everyday life becomes a celebration of who you are.”

Carolyn V. Hamilton, Art Improv 101: How to Create a Personal Art Journal

Different Types and Methods of Journaling to Try

There are so many different ways to journal. You can choose to pick just one or put together a combination of your favorites. Don’t feel like there’s one single right or wrong way to keep a journal.

Here are just some of the many methods of journaling you can use that are good for beginners.

General Journal

The first method of journaling is the most traditional form, which is where you simply write down your thoughts as often as needed. You might write in the journal a for couple days a week when you have the time or a reason to do so, or you may journal once a day at the end of the day, similar to keeping a diary.

This method is the most flexible since it’s really up to you how you want to do it. With a general method of journaling, the frequency, what to include, and type of journal organization you use is entirely up to you.

Dream Journal

There are journals about a specific topic, such as your dreams. If you are someone with confusing, elaborate, or vivid dreams, this is the perfect journal to keep.

You can have a dream section in a bullet journal, or dedicate one small journal to nothing but recording your dreams. It helps to write them down immediately upon waking, as you will forget them rather quickly.

Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is one where you aren’t just talking about all your thoughts or what you do day to day, but actually only talks about the good things. It’s meant to help you practice mindfulness and live a happier life through gratitude.

To keep a gratitude journal, you look at the positive parts of your day—no matter how big or small—and put write them down in your journal. By doing this, you are able to focus more on the things in your life and dwell less on the bad things. Over time, you can start to heal and live a more optimistic life.

Bullet Journal

This is a newer form of journaling, but one that’s getting popular very fast. Bullet journaling provides a way to keep track of everything in your daily life, including finances, goals and bucket lists, family life, work, mental and physical health, and tons more.

With bullet journaling, you are using primarily symbols and short words or phrases to discuss different things instead of full pages of writing like with a general or standard form of journaling. It also has an index and page numbers since there are so many different sections in the journal.

Guided Journal

Do you want to start a journal but you’re worried that you can’t come up with anything to write about? A guided journal may be just your thing!

Instead of a blank book, this type of journal is filled with prompts for you to write about. They’re usually themed in some way, like for gratitude, gaining confidence, or drawing. Guided journals are perfect for beginners since they give you something to think about rather than leaving you to come up with ideas on your own.

Start Journaling

Now that you understand why you should start journaling, how to motivate yourself to write in your journal, and a few different types of journals you can try, it’s time to get to work on actually starting your journal.

First, decide what type of journal you want to keep, pick what you want to use as a journal and then get started on your first entry or personalizing it to your liking. Remember that personalizing your journal can be a fun hobby, as well, and is often a part of the journaling process.

If you’re not sure where to start with writing, think about picking up a guided journal with writing prompts. Pick a topic you want to explore and find a corresponding journal.

After that, then it’s as simple as picking up a pen or pencil and starting to write.

“Journaling is a great way to pay attention to ‘how it all came to be.’ In looking back, you gain insight into (and appreciation for) your challenges, lessons, and perseverance.”

Melissa Steginus, Self Care at Work: How to Reduce Stress, Boost Productivity, and Do More of What Matters

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