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How to Start a Journaling Habit That Will Actually Stick

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New journal? Check.

New pens? Check.

New habit, goal, or dream? Check.

The ability to stick to your new journaling habit for more than three days?

Well…

We’ve all been there.

For some reason or another, you’ve chosen now as the time to start a new journaling habit (or you’re at least thinking of starting it soon).

Good!

Journaling is an excellent way to dive deeper into learning about yourself, care for your mental health, and simply release any tension you may have built up during the day.

The problem is sticking to your new journaling habit.

Once we open that brand new journal we have dreams of filling it to the brim with our hopes, dreams, problems, emotions, and goals, but those new journals are often stashed in the back of a drawer to be forgotten after a week or two.

So what can you do to encourage yourself to stick to your journaling habit?

That’s where I come in.

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This post may contain affiliate links. Here is my Affiliate Disclaimer.

What are the Benefits of Journaling?

First we need to talk about why you ought to start a journaling habit and why you ought to stick to it.

You have enough on your plate already.

Do the benefits of creating a journaling habit really outweigh your busy schedule?

That’s for you to decide.

Benefits of a Journaling Habit

  • Reduce stress
  • Help you work through emotions
  • Express and cultivate gratitude
  • Cultivate self-discipline and routine
  • Create a bigger, clearer vision of the life you want
  • Discover trends in your thoughts and behavior patterns
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve sleep
  • Help you prioritize what’s most important to you
  • Allows you to see what’s consuming your thoughts on any given day
  • Create a (private) memoir, or record, of your life, thoughts, behaviors, and/or emotions
  • Improve focus by clearing out unnecessary thoughts
  • Physical healing (for more information, check out this article)
  • Improves memory

What Materials Do I Need?

In all honesty, just paper and a writing utensil.

But that’s really no fun.

You need to choose a journal that makes you want to write.

Find a notebook that inspires you.

Find some pens or markers that spark your creativity.

Or keep it simple with a black pen.

That’s the beauty of a journal.

It’s totally yours to create, doodle, write, and dream however you do it best.

There’s no one to judge how you journal.

It’s absolutely, completely personal.

If you really want to know what my personal favorite journal is, it’s the Leuchtturm 1917 Journal.

What I seriously love about these journals:

  • Simple, clean design
  • Dotted pages that allow for unlimited creativity
  • Thick pages that markers don’t bleed through easily
  • Opens flat so that you don’t have to fight just to keep your journal open
  • 2 Bookmarks to help you keep up with your most important pages
  • Elastic closure to keep your journal closed and your thoughts private

You can grab your Leuchtturm 1917 Journal from Amazon HERE.

Can I Just Use an App or My Computer?

You can use paper, you can use an app, you can use your computer… It’s your journal. Use whatever you want.

But I will say there is something beautiful about putting pen to paper that makes you slow down your thoughts a bit and consider a little more carefully what you’re dumping onto the page.

Then again, sometimes you need the quick efficiency of a computer to just get things out of your brain.

Regardless of what medium you choose to use, journaling itself does you no good unless you take the time to reflect on what you’ve written.

But more about that later.

Let’s talk about some different journaling techniques you can use to get you started.

Regardless of what medium you choose to use, journaling itself does you no good unless you take the time to reflect on what you've written. #simplequietmama Click To Tweet

Click here for access to our resource library and weekly tips for a better life!

How to Get Started With Journaling

You have the new journal.

You’re ready to write.

Now what?

Eh…

How many times has this happened to you?

Some people are blessed with that drive to write.

Others… not so much.

It can be almost excruciating to make yourself sit down and put pen to paper.

Here’s where it helps to have some different journaling techniques on hand to help you get through that initial block and allow you to settle in enough to unlock your emotions and creativity.

Choose a Topic

Choosing a topic gives you direction so that you can dive right into writing without having to spend much time figuring out what to write about.

Write about a certain topic or area of your life, such as:

  • Business
  • Kids
  • Relationships
  • Internal struggles/Depression
  • Goals

This is a great method for analyzing what’s working and what isn’t.

Take the time to go through old entries for insight and lessons learned.

Prompts

Prompts are a fantastic way to get your brain flowing.

Choose a prompt from the list below and start writing.

You don’t necessarily have to stay on topic.

You’re not writing an essay for school.

The purpose is simply to get you started.

Bullet Journal

The Leuchtturm 1917 Journal is ideal for bullet journaling due to its’ dotted lines that allow for artistic creativity.

They are so simple and fun to fill with the brim with trackers, goals, lists, memories, dreams, doodles, and journaling.

For more info on creating a Bullet Journal, check out:

What is a Bullet Journal and Why You Need to Start One by Rhoda at LemonyFizz

My 2019 Bullet Journal Set-Up by Rose at Little Miss Rose

10 Bullet Journal Tips You Need to Know as a Beginner by Waheeda at Habits Buzz

Simple Bullet Journal Daily Layouts by Lauren & Traci at Wildflowers and Wanderlust

8 Things to Put in a Bullet Journal by Thass & Kirsty at Diary of a Journal Planner

Bullet Journal Set Up: How to Set Up Your Bullet Journal by Vivian at Teal Notes

Dear Diary

Similar to a brain dump, the “Dear Diary” method is more of a free form method than the others.

Literally anything goes.

This is your opportunity to get out any and every thought, emotion, and mundane thing you need to pull out of your brain.

It’s also a nice way to journal because it gives you a sense of talking to your bestie, and who doesn’t need a good bestie to vent to every now and then?

Gratitude

Can’t think of a place to start?

How about starting with 3-5 things that you’re grateful for at that moment.

It doesn’t need to be big, spiritual, philosophical, or important.

My gratitude lists are often filled with items such as:

  • Jammies
  • Afternoon naps
  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee
  • Hugs from my kids
  • Hand knitted socks (that I made myself!)

Like I said, it doesn’t have to be fancy.

Listing things that you’re grateful for every day leads to an abundance mindset and a more positive attitude that will leak into other areas of your life.

It’s a fantastic practice whether you add it to your regular journaling routine or focus only on writing down your gratitude list each day.

The Open Letter

Have something you need to say?

Get it off your chest by writing a letter to the person that you wish you could talk to.

Now, the trick to this is that you don’t ever have to let them see this letter.

Let your thoughts flow however they need to.

Vent.

Get the junk off your chest.

Then turn the page and forget about it.

The point is to get the thoughts and emotions out, not to actually show them (or anyone else) what you wrote… unless you decide you need to share it with them.

Let your thoughts flow however they need to. Vent. Get the junk off your chest. Then turn the page and forget about it. #simplequietmama Click To Tweet

Start Small

Do a mini brain dump, list your tasks for the day, or write one sentence about how you’re feeling.

If that’s all you can do, okay.

There’s a good chance it’ll eventually lead to more.

Make it Visual

More of the artistic type?

Perfect.

Express yourself through drawings, doodles, or your preferred method of art.

No one ever said journaling had to be words, and words only.

You do you.

What Should I Write About? Journaling Prompts to Get You Started

Sometimes you just need a little nudge to get you started when you’re just starting out.

Here’s a great list of journaling prompts to get your brain working and your imagination flowing.

Journaling Prompts

What would you say to a younger version of yourself?

What would you say to your future self?

How should you have reacted in hindsight?

What’s on your mind?

Letter(s) to your spouse, kids, or someone else, either in the past or the future. What do you wish they knew? What do you want them to keep in mind?

Create a bucket list

“Get to know you” questions, such as “What’s your favorite band and why?” or “What’s your spirit animal and why?”

Who has helped you in your life?

Write your obituary

An introduction of yourself to a room of people (as if you were walking onto a stage)

What are you grateful for?

Do a Brain Dump

How are things different now from before?

Create a mind map

What are your goals?

What do you value?

Where will you be in 5 years? 10?

What does your ideal life look like?

What piques your interest?

Make It Stick

Alright, here we are – the, ahem, sticking point of the entire post. (See what I did there?)

Before we talk about figuring out how to stick to your new journaling habit, let’s look at some of the obstacles you might face:

You’re thinking too big

Instead of imagining yourself filling up every line of the entire journal, getting overwhelmed, and quitting, try imagining yourself filling just one line or page every day.

You haven’t made the decision

Part of creating a habit that you’ll stick to day in and day out is simply making the choice to incorporate it into your life.

Don’t rely on motivation to make you get your journal out each day.

Make the decision and commit to it.

“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.”

 Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

You don’t know what to write about

I get it.

If you’re not the type that writes often, it can be really difficult to figure out what to say.

Just keep in mind that no one else is going to see your journal.

All you have to do is get started, even if that means beginning the page with, “I really don’t know what to write, but I’m trying to start this new journaling habit because…”

Eventually the thoughts will flow. And if not, try again tomorrow.

Tips & Hacks to Help Your New Journaling Habit Stick

Attach it to something you do daily

Creating a new habit is exciting, but it’s also easy to let it slip.

Once you miss a day, it’s easy to miss another day.

In order to combat this, try attaching your new journaling habit to something that you already do every single day, such as drinking coffee or brushing your teeth before bed.

When you attach a new habit to an existing habit, you begin to teach your brain that one action leads to another.

Related: Creating New Habits – The Best Way to Build Confidence and Belief in Yourself Within 30 Days

When you attach a new habit to an existing habit, you begin to teach your brain that one action leads to another. #simplequietmama Click To Tweet

Track it

Grab your free habit tracker below, print it out, and start tracking your new journaling habit.

Each day that you write something down in your journal, fill in the little box that corresponds with the correct date.

You’ll get to see how often you journal and may discover trends in your behavior over time.

SimpleQuietMama.com Habit Tracker Printable

Set a timer

Set a timer and write until the timer goes off.

Don’t worry about spelling or editing.

Simply write.

When you set a timer, you give yourself permission to stop after X amount of time, which can alleviate some stress over wondering if you’ve “written enough.”

Schedule it

Make the appointment with yourself and don’t flake.

Write it in into your daily brain dump and prioritize it.

You keep appointments with other people, why not with yourself?

Minimize distractions

Leave your phone in a different room or turn it off.

Turn off the TV.

Try to find some space where you aren’t around others.

Consider waking up a little earlier to have a few quiet minutes before the rest of your family wakes up.

If you’re typing, silence your computer notifications and commit to focusing on the task at hand until your time goes off (and no social media until you’ve completed your journaling time).

Let it Be the Domino

Starting a new journal is exciting.

Make the commitment to yourself to stick to your new journaling habit so that you can enjoy the benefits of journaling in the future.

Spend time reflecting over what you’ve written and what you’ve learned.

Over time you’ll find that you begin making better choices and living more intentionally than before.

Let your journaling habit become the domino that sparks a ripple of positive change throughout your entire life.

Enjoy it!

For More About Journaling Ideas, Tips, and Inspiration, Follow My Pinterest Board: Journaling.

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What types of things do you like to write about in your daily journaling?

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