I have a confession to make. I’m addicted … to notebooks. You know those one-subject notebooks you can buy in bulk at the beginning of the school year, usually something like 5 notebooks for a dollar? I’m the first in line, loading them into my cart, and stockpiling them for further use.
I don’t stop there. I look for fancy journals, and have even been known to purchase a Moleskine or two. Yes, if you came into my home right now, you would find these “journals” everywhere.
I know, you can do a lot with apps on your smartphone or tablet, or even by opening up a program from your laptop. I use those programs too. (You’ll find Word, Scrivener and Evernote open all the time on my computers.) But there’s something about good old fashioned paper and pen that can really get the creative juices flowing.
So with all these journals at my fingertips, what do I use them for?
A wellness journal
One of the top resolutions in the world today is related to wellness. People consistently state a top goal is to eat better, exercise more, and get into the best shape of their lives. And with good reason. The only way to live a long and happy life is to live a healthy life. It’s hard to remain happy when you’re in and out of doctors offices all week long.
With a wellness journal, you can write down your goals, track your daily activities, watch your progression, and even provide yourself with rewards along the way. You can set up exercise routines to avoid boredom. You can create templates to use when you aren’t sure what to eat or how to exercise for the day.
Why not include your favorite recipes? Why not record restaurants, both local and when you travel, and list your favorite items? You can even use it to track calories and other food information to make sure you are on track with your overall well-being.
A time journal
One of the only ways to improve your life balance is to determine where you are spending your time. What if you determined three hours out of every day was spent reading your social media accounts? Would that shock you? Would it make you change your behavior?
I’ve created my own time journals periodically throughout my career, and each time I do it, I’m amazed at how I spend my time. You’ll quickly discover areas you had no idea were time wasters, and it will point you in the direction of how to add more time into your life.
An expense journal
Where does your money go during the day? How much of your money is being spent on frivolous things? There is only one way to find out – record every purchase you make and track where your money goes. Don’t forget to include the dollar you slide into the vending machine, or the coffee you order from Starbucks on your way to work. Every dollar counts, especially when you are saving for something big. Like a way to finance your Big Idea!
A gratitude journal
Before you go to sleep each evening, what do you do? Do you watch tv? Do you play video games? Do you read disturbing news stories? All of that impacts your sleep habits.
A gratitude journal is used to write down positive messages, things you’ve accomplished during the day, or things you are grateful for. Whether you write a simple sentence, or fill an entire page, by thinking positive thoughts right before you head off to sleep, you’ll sleep better and wake more refreshed and ready to move forward in a positive way.
A meditation journal
I meditate every day. Immediately following my meditation, I grab a journal and write to fill a page. Sometimes random thoughts appear that become great ideas. Sometimes its all about reflection. Sometimes I carry forward an idea I’ve been thinking about for days. By writing every day, I’m giving myself a way to quickly reflect on whatever is crossing my mind at the moment. And by re-reading these entries again and again, some of the best ideas have come into play.
A one sentence journal
This is a great journal to start if you have trouble writing in great detail, or simply don’t have the time to write at length. Every day, write down one sentence that reflects on something you did for the day, or some thought that crossed your mind.
- I had lunch with my daughter and she told me she loved me.
- I’ve decided to start my novel today.
- I signed up for the Spanish class I’ve wanted to take for years.
Then keep it up year after year. You’ll have a wonderful time capsule that allows you to peek back into your life at any time, any date of the preceding years.
A five year Q&A journal
My daughter received a gift a little over a year ago that she has fallen in love with. Every day of the year, she focuses in on one question, and provides a small response to how that question applied to her that day. There is space on each page for five years worth of answers. They are simple questions like:
- What did you eat today?
- What did you do today?
- What was the first thought you had getting out of bed?
Why not create your own? Start out by asking one, easy to answer question every day of the year. Then continue to answer the same question every year for five years. You’ll have an amazing look at your life at the end of that time.
A morning journal
Mornings are meant to be a peaceful time when you rise and contemplate your day. Take a few moments each morning to reflect on your day by journaling. This practice comes from author Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. Her concept is to sit down and write three pages, on anything that comes to mind. By doing this as quickly as possible without thinking about what to write, you’ll find yourself journaling about what is bothering you, and ultimately come up with solutions as well.
A random thought journal
I carry a journal in my purse so that I have it everywhere I go. I record all kinds of things in there. Website URL’s I see or learn about in my community, ideas that come to mind while talking with a friend, or an organization the DJ speaks about on the radio. By having a place to keep all of these random thoughts, I have a way of following up on ideas that had importance when I learned about them, and I also have a running record of things I might refer back to again and again. No more “do you remember that website you told me about at our last lunch?” because chances are I have it recorded in my random thought journal.
A quote journal
“Authenticity is enjoying a new sense of freedom to be who you really are
– yourself, natural and without a mask.” ~Mike Robbins
Do you love quotes as much as I do? I have several quote books on my desk, have many quote websites I frequent, and even store some of my favorite on my social accounts – like my inspiration page on Pinterest. The good thing about quotes is they can lift your spirits at a moments notice, and provide you with inspiration to carry on.
A mementos journal
You know all those little things you collect along life’s journey? Sometimes those little things hold a world of meaning. Like the movie ticket you used to go to the midnight showing of Harry Potter. Or the map you used on a recent trip to Disney World. You can tuck small mementos between the pages, tape or glue items onto the pages, or even find a journal with pockets to provide even more space for the things you love.
A books journal
I am a vivacious reader. I read at least one book a week, and often have several books going at any given moment in time. Some books I love more than others, devouring every word from beginning to end. These are the books that have meaning for me. These books usually have quotes or ideas worth saving. Why not journal them? You can include the title, author, and idea that held your interest. I even reference the page number, and sometimes write the idea word for word, along with why it held special meaning for me.
A goals journal
Many years ago, a Harvard study found that people that consistently wrote down their goals as a guide for how they handled their day to day decisions were more successful and accomplished more in their lives than those that don’t. So why not write down all of your goals in journal format?
I create lists on a regular basis for weekly, monthly, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, and even 10 year goals. While my weekly goals are much more specific than my 10 year goals, by thinking about where I want to go, it puts direction and focus on things that matter most to me. It also spawns new ideas that can be fed in at all different levels to help me accomplish even more.
A bucket list journal
Bucket lists are meant to grow and change over time. They are also designed to provide you with dreams that hopefully can become reality sometime soon. Use this bucket list journal to dream big – you can’t accomplish what you don’t dream about first.
Things that have been or still are on my bucket list include:
- Put my daughter in a private school
- Travel for six weeks around Europe
- Write a novel
- Live in a foreign country
Remember, these are your dreams, your bucket list. Dream big!
A writing prompt journal
If you want to improve your writing, or become a writer for your new business, you have to write every single day. Use a writing journal to give you space to explore new topics and write in different styles and in different voices. You can find writing prompts online through quick searches if you have trouble coming up with ideas on your own.
A travel journal
What have you liked most about the places you’ve traveled to? What locations do you dream about visiting?
A travel journal incorporates both into one neat place. Use it to remember your favorite trips. Use it to dream about your future travel. You can write, store mementos, or even paste in travel ideas from your favorite magazines.
A learning journal
When you learn something new, you grow by leaps and bounds. Your old ideas fade away as they are replaced with new ones. And sometimes it can be a pretty dramatic process.
I’ve always found that when I’m in a heavy learning mode, my thoughts become more detailed about the transition I’m making. And yes, as a writer, I have included some of these transitions in the books I write and the classes I teach. It’s the transitions that have true value. If you can teach others how to bypass large amounts of time in their learning curve, your thoughts have value. But even when you say, “I’ll remember this”, you won’t. Unless you write it down.
My Starting Today gives you one insightful question a day to ponder and discover what’s really hidden deep within.
Work through them one day at a time, and you’ll have a full year of thought-provoking questions to get your creative juices flowing.
Want to work through it faster? That’s okay too.
Either way, it’ll help you discover a deeper part of yourself that you’re ready to have come forward. It’ll help you do more in your second act!