Why is it so hard to establish the habits that are good for us and to keep up the habits that are not so good for us?
It’s easier to sleep in then to get up early and go to the gym.
It’s quicker to go through a drive through for lunch than to take the time in the morning to prepare a healthy lunch from home.
Journaling is like this. We get into the routine of our busy day and we live in the moment. We don’t necessarily feel like we need to stop and write in our journal. We are much too busy living our life to stop and write about our life.
But you know what? It catches up to us over time.
Our metabolism slows down as we age. It becomes harder to keep the weight off and we start to realize we really need to make time to go to the gym. Now we have to change our habit, make the time, and go get moving.
Same thing with fast food. We start to realize that we don’t like how we feel throughout the day. Maybe we start gaining weight. Maybe we start eating more sugar in the afternoon to pick ourselves up from the lull we feel as grease and carbs hit our system like a bulldozer of dust from the Sandman.
And of course, that just makes it worse.
When we don’t take the time to write in our journal, we can get bogged down too. We hang onto stressors, decisions that need to be made, and events that need to be worked through in order for us to feel good tomorrow. The more we keep them in, the more they eat at us. We start to feel tired, drained, and our productivity decreases.
Our journals help us to care for our mind. The coolest thing is that caring for our mind increases our awareness of our overall health. Awareness is a huge step toward change, right?
If we know we get the maximum benefits of journaling from a regular journaling practice, we have to plan for maintenance.
Think about your schedule. Where can you find fifteen minutes of time to sit and write? Over the summer my kids were waking up at 7:30 but not ready for breakfast until 8:00 at the earliest. We would get dry bottoms on, they would get a handful of Cheerios and a drink, turn on Sesame Street, and I would write in my journal for fifteen minutes.
Were we in the same room? Usually. Did they try to distract me? At first, but then they backed off. After I was done, I would calmly fix breakfast and they would transition into their meal peacefully. Am I thrilled about starting the day with a television program? Not really at first, but I came to realize the cost of my sanity, and in many ways theirs too, is 100% worth it.
What system can you set up to carve out regular time for yourself? In last week’s article we discussed trying out different times of day that would work for you. Once you know your top one or two writing times, the next step is to make journaling a habit for that time.
I suggest that take it day by day. When you wake in the morning, whether journaling is the first thing you do or not, let it be something on your list that you know you want to get done. Plan on it as a task you will complete.
I know this might feel a little formal. I certainly have my moments when I want journaling to be less of a task and more like a special time with myself, complete with candlelight and music. That’s nice, but not something that’s going to happen every day.
If putting journaling on your to-do list everyday is what gets you to do it, than add it to your to-do list. Set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes. Even five minutes to get started! And for that amount of time, move the pen across the page.
Do it again tomorrow. And the day after.
Before you know it, you’ll start thinking more clearly. You’ll start feeling better. You might start making changes in other parts of your life and writing about those in your journal.
And then one week you’ll notice that you don’t have to put journaling on your to-do list because you just do it. You pick up the pen and write because it feels good.
Voila! Now you have a habit of doing something that’s good for you instead of sticking with the same old, same old. I’d love to hear your tricks for making journaling a habit in your life. Leave a comment in the space below!
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