I’ve journaled for years and stopped journaling. I’ve handwritten my journal and typed it. I’ve done gratitude journals and “feelings” journals. Journals are good. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Journaling per se that is.
As we age, some of us have more difficulty find a “good reason” for getting up each day. We lose both focus and goals. We can feel “futureless” as if most of life has now passed, and we are merely awaiting the end.
That’s a seriously bad place to be. And much of what I write about here is designed to give people reasons for living fully every day. So I want to talk about journalling, in that sense–how it fosters planning futures, and feeling that one’s life has meaning.
As we approach the end of yet another year, we are bombarded with “year-end” reflections: the best music, the best movies, who died, significant events of the year. And we tend to then look at our lives and seek to realize what we have encountered during the year–our successes, failures, attainments and so forth.
You know what? That can be quite difficult to do. Memories grow dim a lot faster as we age, the mundane is swamped by the truly important. But often something of great significance overshadows things that when collected are fairly significant themselves.
And think as we may, we often can’t think of all those little things that can add up to a meaningful year of accomplishments. Just as important, a good recollection of the past year can show patterns and raise ideas of what direction we might move in the new year.
I’m not one to do “New Year’s resolutions” since I find that we are way more energetic in the listing than we will ever be in the doing. We end up disappointed in our lack of will power and dedication. But I do have one this year.
Not even every day. But often enough during the week that I can put down things I do, think about, plan, or otherwise dream about at any given moment. But not for the usual reasons–to get a better hold of who I am and what I desire. But rather to catalog my year.
You see, I think that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a perfect time to go through a journal and taken note of what you have accomplished. What you finished, started, or partially worked on.
We might find for instance, that we haven’t read as much as we would like to. We might find that we did a lot more crafts over the year than we had thought. If you have been thinking, as I have, of opening an Etsy store but lamenting that I have nothing to put in it (crafting so slowly as I often do), you might be pleasantly surprised at how many things you have made over the course of the year.
You might find that while you didn’t succeed in weight loss, you published over a hundred recipes, and that you are eating much healthier as a result. You might get inspired to do something with those recipes–gather them into a printed cookbook for gifts for instance, or to sell on your new Etsy site!
You might find that you were a lot more charitable than you thought, giving of time and money to a lot of worthy causes over the year.
You might find that you’ve really stuck to an exercise regime, better than you actually thought.
The easiest way to journal for this purpose is to set up a private blog which you can go to in seconds and jot down quickly whatever comes to mind that you think might be worth noting. You don’t have to worry about sentence structure and punctuation since it’s private.
I would suggest that you periodically print off the pages and put them in a notebook just for ease of reading at the appropriate time. It’s so much nicer to sit in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee or tea and just peruse your writing. Do that in bits or in large swaths of reading. Make note of what you wish to account for, even in the border if you wish.
Don’t think of this as work, or as something that has to be done in some “correct” fashion. Think of it as a workbook that will enable you periodically to assess what you have done, and what you want to do differently in the future.
Read it once a year, or seasonally, or whatever works for you.
It’s terribly important to believe that you are doing something valuable with your life, no matter how it is structured. It’s important to feel accomplished and capable. You will be utterly amazed at just how capable and productive you have been if you have a record to look back upon.
This is not to become some neurotic new set of rules. It’s not to “increase” output next year, or do a “better job”. It’s simply to enable you to reflect on just how much you do do every year, or every month. It’s meant to make you feel good about yourself, and that leads to. . . .
Feelings of self-worth, happiness, joy, peacefulness, awareness, gratitude, commonality with others, humility, patience, and a whole slue of other traits and feelings that are worthwhile.
So give it a try. Make it as easy as you can. But do it.