Your habits determine your future. Here’s how to make journaling a habit. Here’s how to improve your future!
Do your actions line up with what you actually believe and want in life? Do they line up with the person you want to be and the things you want to achieve in life? If not, it’s probably due to your habits. Habits are unconscious patterns that in one way or another have gotten hardwired into our brain. We do them without thinking. And that’s what makes them so either extremely powerful, or potentially dangerous.
The power habits have over our actions can’t be overstated. at least 40% of what you do on a daily basis is happening inside the unconscious part of your brain? That’s why it’s essential to have good habits in place.
One of the most important habits you can instill in yourself is the habit of journaling. The benefits of journaling are numerous, and impactful. Here’s another blog post in which we discuss how journaling can change your life.
Here’s how to make journaling a habit.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to make journaling a habit.
1. Ask yourself questions. (And write down the answers).
When we ask ourselves questions, it makes our brains sit up and pay attention. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your habits – both bad ones you want to break, as well as good ones you’d like to start:
Question #1: What is my ‘Why?’
Question #2: What is the long-term result of this habit likely to be?
Question #3: Is this a realistic habit? Is it achievable?
Question #4: Do I have a plan for creating (or stopping) this habit?
Question #5: What challenges am I likely to face along the way to making this a habit? What will be my solution for each?
Asking and answering your own questions will help you learn more about yourself, understand yourself better, and remember what your intentions are.
2. Identify your triggers, and insert new routines.
There’s some solid science behind the power of habits. In the book Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that a habit is “made up of three things: a trigger/queue, which provokes the unconscious behavior, the routine, which is what we do after we’re triggered and finally, the reward.”
Triggers are a fact of life, and we can’t get away from them. We can change the reward, and we can change the routine, but we can’t eliminate triggers. So we need to check in with ourselves from time to time about what triggers us.
Is the way you’re processing your triggers creating the kind of outcome you’re hoping for? When you recognize one of your triggers that makes you feel bad, anxious or stressed, it’s in your control what to do next. You can insert a new routine to get the same reward you were getting from the old routine. One of the new routines you can insert is writing in your journal.
3. Don’t break the chain.
Don’t Break the Chain is a strategy coined by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. This strategy commits you to completing a daily goal for an extended period of time. Each day you complete your daily goal (journaling in this case), you mark an “x” on that day in a calendar. The unbroken streak of accomplishments activates your brain’s reward system, and starts becoming more and more rewarding. This, in turn, dissuades you from breaking the chain.
As your streak goes on for longer and longer times, you’re building a long-term habit of daily journaling!
4. Get some supplies you love.
There is something so powerful about picking out an item that’s specifically for your goal of making journaling a habit. It’s like a little jumpstart. You get excited to use your new items (a cool pen or pencil, a new notebook, etc.) that it’s almost hard not to get started!
5. Change it from a chore into a ritual you enjoy.
Spend some time just daydreaming about what would make writing in your journal a joy. It could be something like lighting a special candle, preparing a cup of your favorite warm beverage, or even simply using a pen that you love.
Block off time to do your writing. Think of it as sacred time just for your own personal development. Make it regular. Try to do it around the same time each day. After a few days of repetition, you’ll soon realize you don’t want to ever miss a day!