The Pros and Cons of This Famous Routine
It’s all Medium’s fault.
After I joined this amazing platform, I’ve started to read a lot of articles in which people would talk about their journal habits.
Most of them (or all of them) said it had helped them. How? To think better, to take better decisions, to relax, to have a conversation with themselves, to plan the next day or just to keep a record of their lives.
These experiences made me want to start my own journal. I didn’t know exactly what my goal was, but I was sure I wanted it to make me feel better and to achieve a state of peace in my mind.
Changes were part of my life at that moment. I’d just moved to another country, I was looking for a new job and all the questions that can pop up in a 23-year-old’s mind were attacking me.
Did it help? Was it worth? What happened? Here’s my experience…
I took the first step
As I said, I was a foreigner seeking for a new life. Money was not a big issue but I just couldn’t spend whatever I wanted to. So those $5 I spent on the journal were a little bit painful.
I went to the shop and spent about 20 minutes there.
For me, the way things look is really important. I want my desk to be like those in the pictures: my laptop, a nice lamps, maybe a book and my journal with a pen in top of it. The journal had to bee good-looking.
I chose the one I liked the most and went home.
I must admit I was excited at the beginning. I would imagine myself early in the morning or late at night, alone by the desk or in the balcony, writing while the world passed by. That image was tempting…
So I went home and that same day I wrote my first lines:
“These are the first letters of this journal. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what it’ll be about, but I wanted to begin”.
Everything was running smoothly
At the beginning, everything seemed to be perfect.
I would journal once a day, every single day. Maybe in the morning or maybe at night. It all depended on how busy I was or how much I needed to write.
Immediately after waking up. That was a nice time for journaling. I would write any of the specific goals I had that day (write on Medium, make a video, meet some friend) or I would remind myself why I should be thankful for(I’m healthy, I’ve got a job).
I would also use a motivational phrase to cheer myself up. Something like “come on” or “let’s enjoy the day”. Honestly, I’m not sure whether it worked or not, but in the moment I was writing that I felt as if I was the best student of those famous self-motivation courses.
After waking up, it was a nice way to start the day. Concentration wakes you up. I was feeling the pen in my hand, the softness of the paper and some fresh air on my face when the weather was nice. It made me feel that I started the day in an useful way because I did what I’d planned to do.
Before sleeping is also a wonderful time for a meeting with your journal. After hours in front of the screen, your eyes want to relax. Facing some real paper minutes before going to bed is like water in a desert for your pupils. After a tough day, writing down the things I’d achieved made me feel good. Actually seeing things like “I finished that book” or “I won that game” gives a nice sensation.
Journaling has also helped me when I was worried about something. Usually, the bad things we’re expecting don’t happen. “What would my boss say tomorrow?” or “what if I get ill next week before that important meeting?” are questions we have in our heads. Writing down the logical reasons I had not to worry at all about those things turned to be really helpful. Here’s an example:
Let’s say I was worried because I’ve done something wrong at work and my boss may be mad the next day. I would write:
- Mistakes can happen, it wasn’t your fault altogether.
- You won’t get fired for that.
- Your boss is a nice person, he’ll understand.
- There’s nothing you can do at this exact moment.
See? No point in worrying.
So my journal was with me most of the time. I liked it. It was a nice exercise. But…
Magic Doesn’t Exist
Let’s go back to the last example. I was worried and I would write down why I shouldn’t be worry. Easy, isn’t it?
The problem is it isn’t easy at all.
I would write those things down, know what the best thing to do is, close my journal and after a second I would be worried again. There’s no magical formula.
Or I would write a couple of things I need to do later that day and when I come back home at night I would realise I’ve only done half of those things.
Inspiration is not endless. Even though a journal is not meant to be read by others and your creativity shouldn’t be at its highest level when writing, you must have something to write about.
There were days in which it was me, my journal and my pen and I would write useless things like “Today I’m going to work, I’m coming back and cooking”. That happened because I forced myself to write even when there was no particular reason for it. I know how important it is to keep a habit, but it doesn’t work for me in this case.
I didn’t write every day. There were weeks in which I didn’t write at all. Honestly, sometimes there’s nothing to write about. And if I don’t have time for my journal, that means I’m busy doing something else, and that’s a positive thing!
So journaling didn’t help me to solve my problems and I didn’t feel like writing every single day. Everything was getting worse and worse, but I didn’t stop. Why?
Here’s what I like about it
Sometimes I do need to write. We’re humans and we’ve got feelings. If I’m sad, worried or excited, I write something.
Maybe it doesn’t help to solve my problems, but it’s a way of keeping my busy and actually to do something to try to solve some tricky situations. As I said before, there’s no magical formula, but a formula is divided into several parts, and maybe journaling is one of those.
My eyes are thankful. A piece of actual paper before going to bed really helps me. It’s not always journaling, it can also be a book. That’s also why I stopped reading e-books and started to read paper books.
But honestly, I think that what I like the most about this habit is the idea of it.
I imagine myself writing and I love it.
I imagine myself telling other people I keep a journal and I love it.
I imagine myself in a couple of years looking at all the journals I’ve written and I love it.
I imagine myself on a train writing while I look trough the window and I love it.
I don’t really know whether I like the actual action of journaling. But it’s like cleaning: nobody likes cleaning, but they like things to be clean.
The same happens to me: I like the idea of keeping a journal.
And that’s why I’ll keep doing it. Not every single day but when I feel like journaling. I won’t expect any results from it, I’ll do it just because.
But remember, that’s my experience. We are all different and maybe a journal is really helpful for you. But you will never now if you don’t try.