What I have learned from daily journaling

I have been daily journaling for over five years now. At least that is how long I have been using the Day One daily journaling app. Prior to using the app I did keep a paper journal. While some people still prefer journaling on paper I do like using an electronic journal. There are a few reasons. First, my handwritten is terrible. So, when I did use a paper journal I would have the worse time making sense of what I wrote years down the road. Second, I like the ability to easily search for keywords, tags, and other bits of information. You can’t easily do that with a paper journal.

Daily journaling can be an excellent teacher

Lessons learned are forgotten

Looking back on my journal entry from over five years ago I learned one big lesson. That is that I tend to learn lessons and then they fade away. That is why daily journaling is so powerful. Because you are capturing thoughts and lessons from life that you can reflect back on when you need a reminder.

Over five-years ago I commented in my daily journal that I really loved working on my personal website. Back then hosting my own website, building it out, and populating it with content was a brand new skill set that I was just beginning to learn. Back then it was fun. But some where along the way I allowed it to turn into a business. Over time that caused the fun factor to fade. The worst part is that lesson didn’t just show up from my entry five-years ago. Similar comments were in my entry from two-years ago.

Life can get messy. So much so that we often times need a reminder about the lessons we have learned along the way. In the case of a journey those lessons can be really impactful. Especially if you are being utterly honest with yourself in your entries

I know what is right for me, too bad I don’t listen to myself

One of my regular habits is to perform a journal audit every 90 days. It isn’t a fancy process. I simply scroll back through 90 days of entries and look for common themes. If those themes continue to show up time after time, year after year then I know I am not paying enough attention to doing something about them.

If you had looked at the past entries with me today you would have noticed some common themes. Going back two and five years showed me that I have been dealing with some of the same issues for that long. The worst part is that my responses back then make it really clear that I know exactly what I should do about those issues. That I know what is the right thing to do. But I don’t always follow that path.

That is what feeling in a rut is like. You have things that hang over your head for years on end but you never seem to address them. If daily journaling isn’t one of your habits then no wonder you feel stuck. Without written proof of the challenges you are experiencing it is hard to reflect back on your progress, or lack thereof.

Life is full of great moments, I seem to overlook them

My journal entries tend to cover things that I am struggling with and how I feel I should handle them. I don’t talk about the great moments in my life as much. That is just my style of writing. But I do occasionally write about some of the wonderful things that I have had the pleasure of experiencing.

By reflecting back on those moments in my journal, specifically how I felt during those moments, I am reminded that life certainly has its ups and downs. But, there are more ups than I tend to remember.

That is why some journal formats that I have tried, such as Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, encourage you to capture positive things each day.

Your turn

There are an insane number of journaling formats out there. Feel free to comment below and share your journaling process. Do you have a favorite format, like the 5-minute Bullet Journal? Paper or electronic? I’m curious to see what people prefer.

I’m a former C-level banking exec. and 3x startup founder leading a corporate innovation/product team and have helped companies raise over $500M in funding.