Whenever I meet new people, and somehow the conversation meanders to keeping a journal, I always get the same reaction: surprise. Followed by a question that is also always the same, but it comes in two distinct flavors:
- OMG, me too! What are you doing?
- WTF, are you a teenager? What are you doing?
Inevitably I mention the blog post I wrote in September 2018 when I was just starting out. The basics have stayed the same: I still practice the 5-minute journal technique, use Day One for saving the entries, use Shortcuts1 for templating, and prefix morning entries with a stoic quote.
Though I slightly improved each of these steps. The quote script was iterated several times, and now there are way more quotes. I also added a quote preview to the Morning shortcut, so I can abort it if I don’t like it or if it’s not in English2. Since I have it on the home screen, I can then easily rerun it. I’ve also extended the Evening shortcut part of the five-minute journal template with 2 more prompts:
- How did I help someone today?
- What did I learn today?
With technicalities out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the post. Why am I (still) writing a journal after doing it every single day3 for over 1300 days (more than three and a half years)?
Because it makes me a better person.
It’s as simple as that. The methodology alone ensures that you start your day on a positive note. Just practicing gratitude is proven to be an antidote to dissatisfaction. Add to that affirmations and preparing for your day, and you’re off to a great start.
Ending the day is no different. Reflecting and looking back on what happened through the day helps you appreciate just how good you have it. Many times we forget all the beautiful small things that happened. Writing them down allows us to relive the moments and make them more memorable. And knowing that the questions I mentioned above are coming at the end of the day makes me more helpful and curious.
But what really makes the difference for me is doing it in the app. See, I lied a bit above. I don’t start the day by writing the morning entry but by looking back to on this day entries. I can read entries from one, two, and now even three years ago. And that’s where the magic happens.
I can read about all the good things that I was looking forward to and everything that happened on those days. It brings a smile to my face every single morning.
I can also see all the things I wanted to be better at. And I can clearly contrast and compare myself at that moment vs. me now. I can see where I’m making progress, where I’m stagnating, or where I’m regressing4.
With all of this in mind, I can objectively say that yes, I am indeed a better person than I was. I am making positive changes in my life. I am a better friend. I’ve learned things. I’ve helped people. It’s not just my feeling. It’s a fact.
So, please, do yourself a favor and try it. You don’t need a fancy notebook. Not even an app. You can start by simply writing down what you’re grateful for. I guarantee that this alone will make your life better. So why wouldn’t you do it?
Stop with the excuses and start now!
It was called Workflow when I wrote the original post but was renamed to Shortcuts in iOS 12 ↩
Goodreads quotes don’t offer a language filter 😔 ↩
There have been some evenings when I was out on a concert or something, so I wrote the evening one the next morning, but you get the point 😅 ↩
Rarely happens, but it definitely does 😬 ↩