You want it so badly.
You want to look back on your life through years of journal entries.
You've always imagined reviewing your life through the pages of a journal, laughing at the problems you thought were so important, and marveling how you struggled to make decisions that now define you.
Chances are, you've even started a few journals of your own.
They're sitting there, half-completed, on the shelf.
But you'd really like to start a consistent writing habit. To journal every day.
It's not a daydream. You can really do it, and it's easier than you might think. The secret is in changing how you look at writing in your journal.
I've been journalling consistently for a year now, and I've realized seven habits that work wonders.
This is how to journal every day.
1. Throw away all your journals (except one)
Okay, so you don't have to be so extreme about it.
But if you're trying to write in more than one journal regularly, you're not going to succeed.
You need focus, and that focus will only come when you have a single journal for everything.
When everything goes in one journal, it's easy to sort and easy to remember. You don't need to carry different notebooks with you. It's all in one spot.
2. Trigger writing with regular activities
One of the reasons I can journal so often is because it's easy to remember to do so.
All of my workouts go in my journal. That's three times per week I'm writing down what I'm doing.
True, it's just a list of weights and sets and reps.
But it's something. And more importantly, it's a record of how I was spending my time.
In 20 years, I probably won't care about how much I could bench press on August 22nd, but I'll see that it was clearly a priority.
This is the same with other activities as well. I write down names of people I meet, books I read, and even a few work projects I start.
When I write down an activity I "have to record," I'm more likely to scribble my thoughts down that evening, since I've already started an entry for the day.
3. Schedule a daily time to journal
This has been the #1 most effective strategy for me.
I'll be honest: it's a strategy I've used on-and-off for the past few years. Months or even years have gone by without regular writing.
But when I make a commitment to write every morning or every evening (usually the latter), I've created some of the most memorable entries of my life.
To make this work, choose a time to get started. I've found I can write a short entry in under five minutes, and once I get started it's easy to continue.
The secret is just to start.
Currently, I journal my goals and reflections for the day before I start my work. I'm already at my desk, but take a few minutes to think before working.
I also journal in the evenings before bed. This is the time I use the most. I used to journal in bed before falling asleep, but now I do it at my desk and then read for a bit in bed.
Either way is fine, but the important thing is to have a regular routine.
4. Carry a journal with you everywhere
I always carry my journal and pen with me.
It's on my desk when I'm at home. When I leave for the day, it's in my backpack. I take it with me to the gym, to conferences, on weekend trips.
I have one journal and one pen, and that's it.
Weirdly enough, I get attached to them. I don't like it when people borrow my pen. I almost never let anyone else use my journal.
They're special. And after carrying a journal and pen with me everywhere for almost a year, it's become a part of who I am.
5. Don't worry about perfection
I'd love to tell you the precise formula for a perfect journal, but it doesn't exist.
Instead, you need to make it up as you go along, and accept that it will evolve with you.
When I first started, I developed a system of icons and markers to remember the types of entries I wrote: people I met, trips to the gym, ideas, notes from lectures, etc.
A month or so in, I scrapped that system.
Just today, I started a new organization system for my weekly goals. It might work and become part of my regular routine.
But it might not, and that's okay.
Your journal methods will change and grow with you. Accept that it will always be a work in progress, and you'll be happier with yourself and your writing.
6. Get supplies you love
There's a reason I love my journal and pen: they're the best.
I use a Moleskine ruled notebook and fine Pentel R.S.V.P pen. The Moleskine is expensive. The pens are two for $1.
The price doesn't matter to me, but the quality does.
I've been using that exact type of pen since high school, and I don't have a reason to change.
The Moleskine is durable and can be used for a lot of different things—jotting down thoughts, sketching pictures, or more traditional journal entries.
I truly love these supplies, and I look forward to using them every day.
7. Let yourself have fun
Your journal isn't a legal document that ties you down to one style of writing.
It's your journal.
You can make it whatever you want.
Want to write in an invented language through the whole thing? Go for it.
Want to write free-form poetry from right to left? Do it.
Or, perhaps more likely, want to skip a day or just draw a picture? It's your journal.
If you don't have fun, it will become a chore. And the moment it becomes a chore, you won't want to keep using it. The goal is to keep it as a reward.
Make your journal something you can look forward to at the end of each day. Something you can use to pour out your deepest thoughts, fears, and dreams.
Make your journal a piece of artwork that only you will ever truly appreciate.
Because in the end, that's what it is.
A piece of art.