Why I Journal Everyday
How a daily journaling routine helped me gain clarity, overcome obstacles, and stay on track to reach my long-term goals.
Ten years ago I started to define goals for my life. I wanted to become the best version of myself and I was told that success is designed and never spontaneous. I started designing my future by doing a 4-year plannings. The main objective was creating a path to my dream life and to pursuing it. Once I had picture of my future self, I was defining goals in the following categories:
- Self development and happiness
- Health and body
All my goals were high level and vague: I wanted to learn German, reduce weight to 85kg (185 pounds), earn 50,000 EUR annual. They were measurable and I could easily tell if I am making a progress. At the beginning I was refining them every quarter. At the very first week I was so pumped about the end goal so I had no problems doing the work. I was doing groceries and meal prep, singing up for German courses, joining Toastmaster clubs and many others.
Despite all those efforts, I was failing the most of my goals quarter after quarter. It made me feel like a failure. I have been putting a lot of effort, at least I thought so, but there were always obstacles and they were holding me back. I couldn’t really tell what was it. During work weeks I was visualizing how I am going to work on my personal projects on weekend. I felt motivated but on Friday night nothing happened. Often I was going out with my friends drinking and curing hangovers on Sundays. I had lazy weekends were my friend weren’t available and I also wasted those doing nothing. My goals were measurable but I didn’t know how to pursue them. I felt hopeless because I wasn’t able to control my life.
In May 2021 many countries started easing their COVID-19 restrictions and I reached the boiling point. The last two years of my life could have been compressed into one week and have seen no changes in my life. I gained weight to 115kg (255 pounds), I drank alcohol on weekly basis, I was super unhappy about my job and place I am in life. I had a nervous breakdown.
My brain started to project physical pain onto my body. I couldn’t breath and eat. I quitted my job and started therapy sessions. I decided to change every aspect of my life. I was making great progress week after week and month after month. But after a year of work I was losing steam. I was happy with my life but I started to miss targets. My body weight stuck at 90kg (200 pounds), I had a my dreamt job but have no idea what’s next. At this point I could live with it but I knew I cannot neglect it otherwise those feelings would boil in my a few years later.
I stumbled across some post on journaling and I decided to try it out. In November 2022 I started my journal and I write it every day since than. I made it my morning routine. I wake up, make double espresso and start writing for a few minutes. I do it until I have answers to following questions:What went wrong yesterday?
- What went wrong yesterday?
- What went how I wanted?
Did anything bothered me yesterday? A thought? A person? A thing or an idea? If yes, I contemplate it for few minutes and decide on action plan if necessary.
- How is my mood? Am I feeling happy?
- Tasks to do today.
It takes me up to 30 minutes to complete a note unless something big grew in my mind (point 3). I am trying to avoid rushing into conclusion since problems don’t solve themselves. If you don’t take time to understand and address them they will return and hit you harder.
Am I always completing all my tasks? Of course not. I fail all the time but I try to correct the course on weekly basis. If I am failing with some tasks for a few times it means something is wrong. The problem are usually related to more difficult periods in life.
Since I started journaling I made much more progress in achieving goals from my 4-year plans. Every Sunday I review my progress and I adjust the plan according to the circumstances.
A few years ago I stumbled across the following sentence:
“People tend to overestimate what can be done in a day and to underestimate what can be done in one or five years.”
It is 100% true. Focus on work and follow your plan. You might fail today but tomorrow is a new day and you can always put more work or change your plans. Writing a journal will help you to zoom out and look on your life from perspective. Things tend to go sideways but you shouldn’t take it opportunity to beat yourself.
If you feel tired and need to take a few days break. Just do it. Keep it under control and enjoy the ride. At the end, life is a journey. When you get to your destination it will feel more fulfilling when you struggled on the way up.