How to start a journaling habit
For us, journaling was always a bit like reading. You know you should do it, you enjoy it when you actually do it, yet we always found maintaining a regular habit difficult. We needed a way to overcome resistance to journaling.
We reflected on our journaling habits and observed a vast difference when we didn't include it in our morning routine. We were behind on our tasks, spent more time procrastinating and acted sporadicly in other routines. The result was it negatively affecting our baseline level of happiness. Once we had experimented and found our preferred type of journaling, we knew we needed to make it a habit.
Creating a journaling habit
The solution for us was simple. A regular journaling habit. Once instilled, it is the one thing that created countless positive feedback loops in many areas of our lives. From friends to freedom, from wealth to wellness.
This time around we were more tactical and conscious of the process to form a journaling habit.
Keep on reading for a bunch of practical advice that we used to form a bunch of new healthy habits and help us design the Evolve Journal .
- 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.
- 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 for journaling
- 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 recording your progress triggers a dopamine release. This will only encourage you further.
- If you thrive when working with others then an accountability partner may be perfect. Discuss your aims for the month with your partner and the habits you're working on. You can then meet once a month to review progress. Share your goals, successes and challenges with this accountability partner. This gives motivation in those moments where you need someone to give you that little extra push.
Set reminders to journal
- In the early days of habit formation, it can be helpful to have a failsafe. This could be a calendar reminder or a simple alarm on your phone.
Date your journal
- Looking back on your life and seeing your thoughts and behaviours during specific times is very satisfying. We have used this to see the roadmap to our big successes in the past. It is very useful as we can analyse our life by reflecting from a birds-eye view. Dating each day highlights your inconsistencies and encourages more activity.
- If you were smashing it at work last month you may be able to attribute this to a consistent sleeping pattern. Inversely you may be able to see where you were binge-watching a new TV series. You can see where too many nights out not only impacted your goal to save money but left the running shoes growing cobwebs. We are often guilty of burning the candle at both ends. This practice helps.
Our experience with journaling
We 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. Reflecting on the last 6 months means we carry the lessons learnt into our next 6-month block of journaling.
We slotted journaling into our morning and evening routines.
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. Doing this allowed us to get to sleep easier after reflecting on the 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 with journaling
Talking about how you feel to a book feels strange at first, but you get used to it. There are a few reasons why journaling can be difficult but the main one is 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.
If you need any more help or advice with your journaling habit reach out directly. We are happy to help.