I remember the day I started my first journal. I was ten-years-old. As I opened it up to the first page, a hundred thoughts and expectations ran through my mind of all the adventures I would write about throughout my life. This would be my story. The story of my life.
Once, while I was online, I saw that someone had posted a list of the traits found in a successful person. One of them was ‘keeps a journal.’ I thought to myself, well I guess that counts me off of the ‘successful person list’ because, regardless of my ten-year-old dream of being that girl who records EVERYTHING in a cute diary with countless adventures to write about, I didn’t even make it on the ‘unsuccessful person list’, which read, ‘says they keep a journal, but doesn’t.’ (Or something along those lines). Here is my confession: I don’t keep a journal. I have multiple journals that have multiple entries, but keeping a journal isn’t a habit for me. So, yes. I am also writing this to myself because I do think that keeping a journal is a great habit to have. Why?
The First Reason Why
Remember I said I remembered the day I started my first journal? Well, that day would have never survived in my memory if I hadn’t recorded it. Although the things that I wrote in my journal at age ten might not have been the most memory-worthy things, in the long term, little things like that gave me a pretty good sense of what I was like as child from an adult’s perspective. Another point is that, considering how I’ve remembered little unimportant details, imagine how I’ve appreciated reading back on the big events in my life. Writing something down can do amazing things for memory retention, and recording them in a fun, ‘letter-to-self way’ can bring you right back to certain times in your life.
A Deeper Reason Why
The reason for keeping a journal that I stated above is, as I said, the primary reason why most people keep a journal. People keep journals to record their lives so they can remember them for later. So, if you did not already know that information, you may go back and take notes, because its a pretty good reason.
Yet, even if we had super-human minds and could summon any memory at will, I’m sure many people would still keep a journal. It then comes down to this question: why would we write it down? We write to record, we record to relate, we relate to build relationships–what? Yes. That is why we should record things in a journal. Of course, by building relationships, I don’t exclusively mean with other people. In fact, that is only a small portion of it. The person you should be building a relationship with through writing in a journal is yourself.
It is not so much important to narrate the day than to go through the journey of it, picking out things you struggled with, addressing all your worries, and describing your biggest excitements. Everyone could use a little self-reflection, and a journal is the best place to examine yourself. What you were struggling with two years ago might not be what you are struggling with now. A journal can help record you self-growth and can also shed light on problems two years ago that you may still be having now. If you don’t know yourself, you will not be happy, so take the time to look inside yourself and write about what you find.
Reasons on the Side
Now, not every successful journal keeper uses it for self-reflection. There are many benefits to keeping a journal that go beyond this kind. For example, having a travel journal. If you like to travel, having a journal to record each new and exciting trip can be a great way of relating it to others and your future self. I probably wouldn’t read someone else’s journal unless it was about something really exciting, such as a trip they experienced.
Journals also are good for organizing your life. Making lists is an awesome way to stay on top of things, and if you already have a frequently used journal, you won’t forget about it. Just to add a few more extras, they are also good for: keeping exercise routines, notes-to-self entries, reminders, cooking/baking recipes, you know, things like that. Things that successful people keep.
As I said, I don’t often write in my journal, but there is a reason for that. Like many people, writing is my chief way of expression, and, for me, it is under the guise of Fiction Writing. I write fiction so I can address the very real problems of the world under a thick layer of fantasy. I find writing about myself tedious and awkward. I would rather do it under the disguise of a character in a made-up world going through crazy travesties that I go through on a lesser level, or internally. But, everyone is different, and that’s just me. I do, however, keep lists, note-to-self entries, and most of the things listed under ‘Reasons on the Side’.
I do believe that journal-keepers are more likely to be successful than non-journal-keepers, but I also believe you can get most of the same benefits of keeping a journal by finding the right alternative.
But, honestly, just keep a journal near your bed. Whether it’s for shopping lists, ideas for the story you’re writing, a long-winded examination of yourself, if you make a point to use it, it will be very helpful.
Thank you for reading 🙂