Journaling Tips

Using Day One to Record and Enrich Your Life

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Starting From Day One by Bakari Chavanu.

Another useful way to use your journal is to regularly revisit past journal entries. If we are diligent journal keepers–constantly writing and reflecting on the challenges we face in life–we get to reread our journal entries months and years later, and revisit happy, positive experiences, and how we made it through troubled waters. We are reminded of friends and family members, those we laughed with, told jokes and secrets to, what surprises we received, and what failures we endured.

To get in the habit of revisiting journal entries, you might either star entries especially for revisiting later or tagging entries with the keyword, “revisit.” You might also mark dates on your calendar to revisit particular journal entries, such birthday entries, deaths in your family, etc..

The following are some ideas for journal entries you might revisit:

Bucket Lists: Since most items on a bucket list may take months or even years to complete, revisiting your list will remind you to turn an item into an actual goal and make a plan to achieve it.

Rate of Areas of Growth: Write a journal entry in which you rate areas of your life (e.g., family, health, well-being, career and finances, social life, and self-exploration) on a scale of 1-10. Write a reflection of about your ratings, and maybe mark one or two areas you want to improve on. Tag the entry so you can easily locate it. Set a calendar alert, including the listed areas, to rerate the list each year, and then compare your ratings to the previous year’s list. This growth list is based on a prompt from Rossi Fox’s 365 Journal Writing Ideas.

Yearly Accomplishments: Each year on your birthday, write a list of goals you would like to accomplishment for the year. Revisit previous previous birthday journal entries, and write a praise letter for what you accomplished, no matter how small the accomplishments.

Projects and Goals: Keep journal entries about the progress you’re making on a goal or project. Revisit those entries to remind yourself of how you accomplished a goal, or why you had to let it go. This is like using your journal as a personal instructional manual.

Birthday Letters: Write an unsent letter to your kids or spouse on their birthday. Revisit those letters each year, and reflect on your relationship with your family members.

Career Accomplishments: Keep a list of career accomplishments in your journal, and use the list for when developing a resumé.

Writing Topics: Search or browse your journal for entries that might be a springboard for a short story, memoir pieces, or blog posts.

Starting From Day One by Bakari Chavanu.

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