For us, journaling was always a bit like reading; you know you should do it, you enjoy it when you actually do it but always found it difficult to do it regularly and maintain a habit.
For a habit to stick it needs time.
There has been lots of research conducted in recent years around the science of habits.
Below are some of the techniques that are recommended by experts like James Clear, many of which are worked into the Evolve Journal to help our users form habits that stick.
- Habit stacking. Try to start by linking journaling to a pre existing habit and building it from there. Find something you do every morning without fail. For example, you could do your morning journal entry whilst having your first drink of the day. Or leaving your journal on work clothes laid out the night before will prompt you to complete the journal every morning.
- Environment. Habit experts believe in the power of visual cues. For example if you wanted to create a habit of using your journal in the evening then leave the book near your bed. Somewhere you can't miss it. It's a lot harder to ignore something when you put it somewhere you can't avoid. The more abundant the visual cues the more likely your habit is to stick.
- Reward. Offer yourself a small reward for completing a week of journal entries morning and night. This could be something small as a lie in on the weekend to reward your good effort. Remember to record this in your journal. Studies show something as simple as recording your progress can trigger a dopamine release which will only encourage you further.
Some of us thrive on working with others and an accountability partner is perfect for maintaining motivation in those moments where you need someone to give you that little extra push.
Put some time aside to catch up this the person regularly and discuss your progress
Don't be shy in sharing your goals, successes and challenges with this accountability partner.
- Set a reminder. We of course recommend the above strategies but in the early days it can be helpful to have a failsafe this could be an outlook calendar reminder or a simple alarm on your phone.
- Date your journal There is something very satisfying about looking back on your life in chronological order and seeing your thoughts and behaviors during specific times. We have found this very useful as we can analyse our life by reflecting from a birds eye view.
- Review. If you were smashing it at work last month you may be able to attribute this to a consistent pattern of 8 hours sleep a night (or the pubs shutting for lockdown). Inversely you may be able to see where you were binge watching a new TV series, burning the candle at both ends where too many nights out not only impacted your goal to save money but left the running shoes growing cobwebs.
Our experience with journaling
We actually started by having reminders on our phones for the first couple of weeks for each habit we wanted to form.
When we finish a journal we take time to reflect on old entries. We found reflecting on the last 6 months allows us to make sure we carry the lessons learnt into our next 6 month block of journaling.
Put the journal into a consistent part of your morning routine and evening, for us it's the first thing we do when we return from the gym and the last thing we do before we turn the lights off at night. We found doing this allowed us get to sleep easier after reflecting on highlights and learnings of the day. Trust us when we say this is a much better way to cap off your day than exercising your thumb on social media.
Challenges we faced.
Talking about how you feel to a book. Feels strange at first but you get used to it.
Failure. You're going to fail some days. That's something you need to accept early on. It's OK to fail, it's not OK to give up. Fail as many times as you need to. The main thing is that you keep going. Don't let a bad day turn into a bad week and you'll be able to build your journaling habit in no time.