Over the years, journaling has changed and evolved into a powerful tool of self-reflection, productivity and creative expression. There are so many different methods you can use to create a journal that perfectly fits your personality and lifestyle, that it would seem impossible to have doubts or misconceptions. However, it’s common to get off track and make mistakes even with so many different journaling paths at your fingertips. Here are 5 things that will sabotage your journaling experience every time (unless you know about them in advance).
- Aiming for Perfection: One of the biggest mistakes that can ruin your journaling experience before it even begins, is aiming for perfection. There is no right or wrong way to journal, you simply have to find the right style that fits YOU. It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that your journal – the look and the content has to be perfect for it to really make a difference. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t have to conform to any one style or way of journaling – simply make your own rules right from the beginning and just start writing.
- Making Yourself Write Every Day: Even though writing is a huge part of the journaling experience, it shouldn’t feel like something you are forcing yourself to do. Your journal should be a place where you can express yourself, reflect on your thoughts and feelings and grow into the person you’re meant to be. If you’re visiting your journal each day out of a sense of duty or obligation, you’re doing it all wrong and it will eventually cause you to resent the habit altogether. You want to build a good journaling habit, but you want to do it in a way that fits your wants, needs, personality AND schedule. Take time to journal when the mood strikes you – no matter if you journal for 10 minutes or 60 minutes, you’ll still benefit as long as you’re doing it on your terms.
- Your Journal Lacks a Goal/Purpose: Even as a beginner, you should have an idea of what you want to gain from journaling. Going into it without a goal or purpose can throw you off and cause you to give up before you even really start. Think about what you want to use your journal for – as an overall goal as well as each time your sit down to write. What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want to build self-confidence, have a better, more positive attitude or simply get organized in one or more areas of your life? Having a clear picture can help to guide you and provide you with the most benefit in the long run.
- You’re Not Having Fun: One of the most important things you can do to build and maintain a successful journaling habit is to keep it simple and fun. If it starts to feel more like a chore than something you look forward to, your journaling habit will be short-lived. Keep a journal jar with fun writing prompts that inspire you to get those creative juices flowing. For example, you could include your bucket list, places you’d like to travel, books (or people) that inspire you, meals you’d like to try and so much more. Cut out pictures from magazines and use your journal as a vision board when you don’t feel like writing or simply give it a bright and happy feel with some cute stickers. Finally, quit worrying so much about WHAT you’re writing and just let the words flow. Making your journal time fun will greatly increase your chances of making this powerful habit stick.
- You Don’t Set Aside the Time: If you want to get the most benefit from journaling, it’s important to schedule it in and make it a part of your busy schedule. Life can be crazy and it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of to-dos, leaving you little time for anything else. It’s important to put it on the calendar instead of leaving it up to those few free moments that you “might” have each day. Just like any other habit, if you want to make it stick, you actually have to make it a priority and do it. This doesn’t mean you have to write every single day (see #2) if you’re not feeling it. The important thing is that you set aside a little time each day just for journaling, even if you happen to skip a day or two every now and again. Before you know it, journaling will become a routine part of your busy life.
Although there is no right or wrong way to journal, there are a few mistakes you can easily avoid along the way to make your experience that much better. Recognize that YOU make the rules, find a style that fits your needs and personality and most importantly, have fun with it!