Some say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Others argue that it takes 30 or even 66 days. What happens when you do something for 200+ days? I say, it has the power to change your outlook on life.
At least, that was my experience with intentional journaling. Growing up, I always wanted to be someone that journaled. I wanted to find a way to express my thoughts in a safe space. However, putting a pen to paper consistently, allowing the necessary level of vulnerability, and the lurking threat that others had to read those thoughts deterred me. I would ask for a journal, write in it once or twice throughout the year, and inevitably abandon the hobby.
Fast forward to 2018. I had just found Rachel Hollis after reading her book Girl, Wash Your Face and loved watching her and Dave Hollis on their daily live streams. I loved her tenacity and big sister-esque advice style–I was fully subscribed to her brand (obsessed really). Naturally, when she announced that the Hollis Company was releasing their own brand of journals based on the practice that Rachel does every morning, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to get my hands on one in the limited batch. I would complete it some mornings, falling in and out of my routine. It took me much longer than it should have to complete the journal from the first batch (though that didn’t stop me from buying more from future cover drops). However, completing the first journal filled me with pride–it was the longest that I had stuck to journaling, even though it was imperfect. I started to buy the journals for friends and even gave one away on Instagram. I enjoyed that I had found a journal that worked for me and I wanted to share it with the world.
About 200 days ago (202 days to be exact according to my habit tracking app), I started my longest streak of journaling to date. Here are 5 of the ways that it has helped to change my outlook on life:
Intentional Journaling vs. Brain Dumping
I’m not saying that brain dumping isn’t an effective strategy for some, but one of the things that I learned from completing the Morning Pages challenge was that it wasn’t the style of journaling that worked for me. It will come as no surprise to many that I enjoy having structure within my journaling practice. Switching to intentional journaling reminded me that the answer is rarely that you can’t do something, sometimes the answer is just that you have to find a way to make it work for you.
Starting the day with Gratitude
Every journal entry starts with listing 5 things that I am grateful for. I use it as a moment to reflect on the little moments that brought me joy the day before. I’ve discussed many times on the blog about how searching for things you are thankful for can help you be more positive throughout the day. No matter how the day goes, I am forced to appreciate the mini victories and experiences of life.
One of my favorite aspects of intentional journaling is that it utilizes the concept of goal manifestation. In the Start Today Journals specifically, you are prompted to practice introspection to identify what you want your life to look like in a few years. Eventually, you take the characteristics from the portrait of the life that you seek and narrow it down into tangible goals that will get you there. Every day you write down 10 goals as if it has already happened. This technique serves a couple of purposes. Rachel states that it tricks your brain into thinking that the goals are achievable when you neglect the use of the future tense. I think that it also speaks what you want into existence. In addition, it keeps your goal in the forefront of your mind and encourages you to do something that will get you closer to meeting those goals. I have found it an extremely helpful way to keep my priorities in order and as an incentive to keep striving for the life that I want to have.
Act of Self-care
Journaling has been a great way to practice self-care. By choosing to complete the practice every day, I am telling myself that my goals and dreams are valuable. Creating this habit has allowed me to make myself a priority, first thing in the morning. I have even taken it a step further by putting my phone on do not disturb in the morning, which allows me to focus on me before the demands of the world seep in.
Establishing a Morning Routine
I have been having the hardest time instilling (and sticking to) a morning routine. However, with the help of my intentional journaling streak (and the 5-second rule, but more on that in a future post), I have been able to establish some consistency in the morning. An intentional morning routine has been credited with contributing to the success of so many people. Personally, I like that I have been shifting my routine away from super chaotic (from rushing around) to one that is slower yet super productive.