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How to Start a Journaling Habit
March 18, 2021 at 3:30 PM

Journaling is an excellent tool for self-reflection and can help us become more mindful of our moods, thoughts and goals. Similar to therapy, journaling can provide a space to learn more about yourself and is most effective when it is a regular practice in daily life. If you are new to journaling, it’s helpful to recognize that there is no “right” way to journal; just like there is no one way to meditate – there is no one way to journal. Different types of journaling allow for different elements of reflection. Journaling provides a space that’s just for you, so you get to decide how you want to create your habit. Below are some examples of different types of journaling and tips on how to get started.

  1. Daily reflection log or check-in 

Journaling does not have to be extensive or time-consuming. A great way to start the habit of journaling regularly is using daily logs or check-ins in your day or week. This practice can provide a short and easy space for routine reflection. Even just a daily quick “check in” or gratitude log can be beneficial. 

  • Try: listing three things you’re grateful for each day, write down a few words every evening to describe your day or write down your goals at the start of each week and your personal “wins” at the end of the week.

2. Stream of Consciousness Journaling

“Stream of Consciousness” journaling means you write down whatever you’re thinking – it is completely unfiltered and often lengthier than other types of journaling. This method of journaling can be a great space for deeper self-reflection and processing some more difficult emotions or thoughts that may come up. 

  • Try: the “morning pages” activity from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Morning pages challenges you to journal three pages of stream of consciousness journaling every morning. This may seem excessive at first, but you may find that once you get started it’s easier to keep writing. When we challenge ourselves to write more, we can bring up matters that sit beneath the surface and find deeper answers within ourselves. 

3. Journaling prompts for inspiration

Sometimes you may find you need a little help to come up with what to write. Journaling prompts pose reflective questions that serve as a launch pad into your writing journey. Luckily there are many resources for journaling prompts from books, to apps, and online resources from various websites. Again, journaling is for you and your personal development, so your answers can be as lengthy or as brief as you’d like.

  • I’ve selected some journaling prompts for self-reflection: 
    • Who or what has made the most positive impact on your life?
    • What lessons have you learned through a challenge you recently faced?
    • Write out your perfect day, hour by hour
    • What would your best friend(s) say about you that you need to hear today?
    • Picture yourself 5 or 10 years ago. What advice would you give your younger self? 
    • Picture yourself 5 or 10 years in the future. What do you hope to have accomplished?

The best way to create a new habit is to schedule it into your routine and pairing it with a habit you already have. For example, journaling with your morning cup of coffee or setting a reminder on your phone at the same time every day. Lastly, to build a habit, we have to make it easy, accessible and enjoyable. Some people love to put a pen to paper, others prefer to journal on an app or on their computer. If morning pages doesn’t feel right for you – try stream of consciousness journaling in the evenings, or start with one page at a time. Find the right fit that works best for you by experimenting with different techniques. Happy journaling!