By Georgina El Morshdy
Have you thought about starting a journaling habit? If so, you’re in good company.
Here’s what the legendary Jim Rohn had to say about this proactive...
“If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.”
And he wasn’t the only high-performer to journal regularly. Everyone from Steve Jobs to Oprah Winfrey to Benjamin Franklin had journals in their life.
For a good reason!
Journaling offers many, MANY benefits.
Everything from creating more clarity, processing challenging emotions, and helping you get clear on your next steps [to name just a few].
Those blank pages plus your thoughts, reflections, and experiences can unlock your genius within - and help you write your way to your best self.
How can you ensure you get maximum value from journaling?
The simplest way is to make journaling a habit.
When journaling becomes a part of your identity, you don’t have to convince yourself to pull open your notebook because you’ll do it instinctively [in the same way that you never go to bed without cleaning your teeth]. The day doesn’t feel complete until you’ve completed your journaling practice.
And if you’re wondering how you get to that point, keep reading, and discover five simple steps.
1. Commit to it!
This first step is so simple, yet so profound.
You have to commit to the practice and, more importantly, to yourself.
Don’t dip a toe in the water. Instead, dive all-in. Don’t TRY to make journaling a habit [have you ever tried to pick up a chair? You can try, you can only do]. Instead, choose to see yourself as a journaler from this point forward.
No excuses and no exceptions!
The remaining four tips will make this commitment easier.
2. Know your WHY behind it.
It’s easier to commit to a new habit when you know your WHY.
We’re creatures of habit! We like what we know because it feels safe, certain, and comfortable. Any attempt to step out of what you know creates a degree of stress.
That’s why we resist - even when we KNOW that a new choice is better for us.
So don’t underestimate the amount of effort it takes to get yourself moving! It takes a lot to overcome inertia.
But there is a strategy you can use to move through any resistance you feel - and that’s your WHY.
If journaling is simply a means to an end - something you feel you should do because others say it’s a good idea, it’s going to be tough to stay committed because life happens and other priorities will show up. But unlock your WHY, and you’ll have access to a motivating force that calls you to step up and show up - even when you don’t feel like it.
When you know your WHY, your journaling becomes more purposeful and meaningful. When you connect to your own reasons for wanting to commit to this practice, it’s easier to remind yourself why you’re doing this work.
So figure out your WHY.
You can do this by asking yourself the question WHY!
But don’t stop at your first answer. Instead, aim to go at least three layers deep. When you do, you’ll tap into something more authentic - and therefore, a much stronger motivator for you.
3. Stack it
One of the easiest ways to commit to a new habit is to stack it on top of an already established habit. That way, your existing routine becomes the trigger then reminds you to do your journaling habit.
For example, you may decide to journal as part of your morning routine. Specifically, you may choose to journal WHILE drinking your morning coffee [or, in my case, my morning cup of tea]. Alternatively, you may decide to journal after you’ve taken your daily power walk.
Habit stacking works because existing habits are already hardwired. Neurologically, it’s easier to attach a new habit to an existing path of neurons rather than trying to start one from scratch.
Looking at your existing habits, when does journaling fit in best?
When you know, tip four is going to help you stick even further.
4. Schedule it.
How often do you miss an appointment?
I’m willing to bet that the answer is ‘rarely’ - because once the date is set, you schedule the appointment into your life.
And what gets planned gets done.
This principle applies to your journaling habit too.
Simply pick a time that you’ll journal each day and diarise it. That way, you’ll know that you have the time to put pen to paper - and you’re more likely to get to writing :-)
5. Track it.
Finally, I recommend using a Habit Tracker because it’s such an effective tool for establishing a new habit.
It’s super easy too.
All you need to do is put a big check each day you complete your habit and watch your winning streak grow.
Before you know it, that chain of wins will become so long, it feels more painful to break the chain than to keep going! What’s more, each check gives you a little motivational boost because you’ve acknowledged a win. That dopamine hit can motivate you to keep going - regardless.
Five simple steps to one powerful good habit
Quick recap. If you want to extract the maximum benefits from journaling, choose to make it a habit - with the help of these FIVE tips:
- COMMIT to it
- Know your WHY behind it
- STACK it
- SCHEDULE it
- TRACK it
Remember, this process will work for any habit you want to embed into your life.
So if you want ideas for which habits to try, check out this list of 101 ideas.
And if you want more journaling tips, techniques, and prompts, check out the Writing Your Best Self podcast.