Are you Journaling? 5 Reasons why you should

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One of my bigger accomplishments of 2014 is that I kept a journal in which I wrote every night before bed. Each day I would do bullet points of happenings that day and at the bottom I would write tasks for tomorrow. No entry would be longer than a notebook page (in this case mine was 8×6) and each one was concise and summarized the day.

This year I will be doing the same again. If you are not journaling I urge you to on a routine business and if you are not sure why here are a few reasons:

1. It is a good way to evaluate in a timely fashion

Writing in it every night forced me to look back on my day and see just where I could have changed things or how I could have been more productive. It also helped me to reflect on things that happened relational, emotional, and spiritually. Why did I argue with that person? Hmmm I probably could have spent less time on social media. Wow, when I sum it up, I really didn’t do much of anything today. These are some thoughts I have at the end of the day when journaling and assessing how I acted during the day helps me make better decisions for tomorrow.

2. Keeps you on task

Part of my daily journaling is putting down the things that I had accomplished that day and things that I will need to do the next day. For instance when it comes to my writing, I would put what my progress was for the day and what I was expected to accomplish tomorrow. Also have you ever just gotten into bed and realized ALL the things you forgot to do that day? Yeah… now you have a place where you can write all those things down so you can remember to do them tomorrow.

3. Baggage lifter

Ever have something happen to you and you just need to get it off your chest. This is a good way to do that. “Never let the sun go down on your anger”. You don’t have to go into super details when writing about it, you can simply just write down that you are angry and frustrated. Just doing that can sometimes make you feel better.

4. Looking back

Going back now and rereading my journal entries allows me to see myself almost from the outside. I read entries of things I have gone through that seemed so consuming at the time but now I am over. There are events in it that I have forgotten have happened. And mostly there is a running theme of thoughts and actions that I didn’t notice before. It is like I am giving insight to myself. It is kind of like one of those look back videos they have on Facebook only this is far more detailed and personal.

5. It can be fun!

I use multicolored gel pens and alternate between them so at the end of the year it is like a rainbow of colors. Sometimes I will even paste something in it or doodle. At the front of the book I usually start it with a meaningful quote, then accomplishments for the past year, disappointments, and then what I am looking forward to this year. You can do whatever you like, get creative, it is your outlet.

So give it a try and start journaling, it is definitely worthwhile.

Also here are some tips for journaling:

  • Find the right kind of notebook whether it is spiral, leather-bound, or digital. Make it a format that will be readily accessible and comfortable to use. For instance I prefer a spiral or soft-bound notebook usually by the company miquelrius.
  • Make sure the notebook is thick enough. If you want to write everyday then you need a notebook that has about 400 pages/200 sheets.
  • If you are keeping a digital journal I suggest using a word processor (word or pages) and saving the entries to a special folder if you are doing separate documents. A great app to use for this would be Evernote or Day One . Check out this article for good iPhone apps and this one for android apps.
  • Put the date at the top of the page. I usually put the time, the day of the week, and the date.
  • Leave space at the bottom to put tasks for the next day. I will help you look forward to tomorrow and when you look back you can see how often those tasks were completed.
  • Do it everyday or just once a week but make sure you are consistent.
  • Be open. This is about you and you shouldn’t be closed off to yourself.

Happy journaling!

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Today’s Ride: Existential Thoughts

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Currently training for a touring event (marathon of biking) in which I will be doing a 15k. It’s been interesting so far. It’s just me, the wind, and nature. I never listen to music when I bike, mostly because then I can’t hear what is around me and I cross some busy intersections. Also I just like the peacefulness about it. Although no ride is the same and I seem to have existential moments as I’m riding so here is what happened with today’s ride:

1. Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that peach prior to leaving. Granted I did it because it had been sometime since I’d eaten breakfast but now I might throw up. Great. Just hold it in.

2. Every time I come around the corner I look for deer. Is that weird?

3. If I had a nickel for every time a grasshopper jumped at me or a bug hit me in the face…

4. Was this hill always this hard?!?!?!?!

5. Why do so many other bikers still past me when I feel like I’m going so fast?

6. Nothing like breathing hard and biking when you pass down wind a field of manure. Never have I wanted to breathe and not breathe at the same time so badly.

7. I really should learn how to switch gears and also possibly get a new bike.

8. Did I mention I’m riding a 15-year-old crappy sears bike that keep having to adjust the seat on as it keeps turning. Did I mention it’s pissing me off?!

9. AND now I’ve been whistled at by a stranger from the dark cresses of his white pickup truck…. lovely.

10. Water bottle is covered in dirt. I would wipe it off with my clothes but I’m covered in bug spray. Last time I did that my lips when alarmingly numb. Hmmm what to do? I guess I’m eating dirt. I hope I don’t end up on one of those weird medical shows…

11. Up the hill. Down the hill. Up the hill. Down the hill. Why are there so many hills?

12. I am sooo hungry.

13. Yeah train! I wonder what time this train runs, maybe I can take it sometime? I wonder what it’s like to sit in the upper part? I bet it’s really cool.

14. Was that a deer? My heart might have just stopped.

15. I just got past by a little girl… I just… whatever.

16. Sir if you could not mean mug me while walking your little dog that would be great.

17. OMG is someone frying donuts?

Thirteen miles and finally home.

18. Stairs are hard.

Setting Yourself Up: Power of the Imagination

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I woke up this morning to the sound of a snow plow moving snow outside my window. I immediately groaned inwardly because that could only mean on thing, it had snowed. Living in the frozen snowy tundra that is Minnesota there are many mornings like this where it snowed through the night. On this particular morning I had to get up at 5am.

As I laid in bed all I could think about is how much snow must have piled up, how I dreaded having to shovel it, wondering if I will be able to get my car out of the garage, and just how late this was going to make me, having not prepared for it. Even as I got up and started getting ready for the day I still wondered how much snow will be compacted at the end of my driveway and just how heavy that snow was. As I grabbed my breakfast the dread continued to build and build so that by the time I put on my coat and boots I was already in a foul mood.

I stood on the cusp of the garage step and with a heavy sigh and possibly a slight growl I hit the button to find out my doom. What did I see. Not much. Well there was something, about a few inches, but in Minnesota terms it basically equated to just enough to make things annoying but not enough where it won’t be melted by the end of the day. And just like that my spirits were lifted. It’s as nothing was ever wrong in the first place. I promptly got in my car and drove to my destination. Now if only I hadn’t allowed my imagination to run off in the first place I wonder how that would have turned out.

The imagination is a powerful thing. It allows us to create such images that can affect us greatly. Which is why it can also be very dangerous. In my case I have dreamt up such mounds of snow that I thought I would be shoveling for hours, late to where I was going, and subsequently put into a foul mood. Essentially I was put off before I even knew the outcome. Now let’s apply that to taking on new things.

Sometimes we are put off of doing things, namely those things that are hard or unfamiliar, even prior to starting it. Our imagination conjures up such horrible images as to how everything can and will go wrong that by the time we are done imagining we have given up entirely and put ourselves in a bad mood. Instead of dwelling on the thought of snow and building up the negatives I should have just let it go and faced the challenge head on when it came.

Instead of imagining how everything can go wrong we should imagine how everything can go right. Does that mean it will? No. But going into a situation with a positive outlook sets you up better for facing the challenge even if it doesn’t work out right. So the next time your imagination decides to run off with its friend negativity, bring it back and switch your focus. That way next time your mood won’t be put off before you even see that pile of snow.