- Do you usually give up on journaling?
- Introduction to the 5-year journal, which is the only journal I’ve written in every day
- The benefits of looking back for reflection
- The story shared in this episode: how my author life has changed in the last five years, and why a journal is helping me stay positive as I move into the next five.
“It’s a really great and simple idea. It’s something I started doing this year and, even though I’m not finished with one full year of this journal, it’s the only journal I have ever been able to consistently and continually write in every single day, and it’s completely changed my mindset.”
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[00:00:00] In this week’s episode, I’m talking about journaling and specifically how a 5-year journal has changed my mindset about being an author and where I am in my career. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, please keep listening.
[00:00:13] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer’s Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer’s soul doesn’t need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host M. Khan, and let’s move forward together.
[00:00:39] Hello and welcome to another episode of the podcast! Today I’m talking about journaling and specifically how a 5-year journal has really changed my life. It’s changed my mindset about being an author and where I am in my career, and given me a great perspective on success and accomplishment. I’m also going to talk about journaling and the benefits that it can have.
[00:01:02] If you’re like me, you might have tried to journal in the past and, at some point, you might have eventually just given up because you felt like you couldn’t keep up with it. That could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was difficult to find a journal, or maybe you just haven’t found the right journal you like, or maybe for another reason.
[00:01:20] What I realized was that I really needed to dedicate my journal to one thing, to one focus, and that’s what I found in a five-year journal. Before, I would be trying to find things to write down about my own life, and that’s not always easy to do. My life is usually pretty mundane, at least to me, so I don’t have necessarily a lot going on every day. I mean, most days I go to work, I come home, and that’s usually it, with me trying to fit a writer life and author life before and after.
[00:01:52] What I realized is that I don’t want to be writing random things down each day, but when I focused on something specific to put down, I never had any issue writing a few lines each day. And that’s what is perfect about a five-year journal.
[00:02:07] So a five- year journal for those who don’t know, is basically in an A5-sized book, maybe 8 1/2 by 6 inches. Each page is dedicated to a day of the year such as January 1st, and then each page is split into five sections. So the idea is that you’ll write a few lines on January 1st each year for the next five years. That way, at the end of five years, you’ll be able to look back and see what exactly happened on January 1st. Each of those last five years, you can see how things have changed, different memories you’ve made, things like that.
[00:02:45] It’s a really great and simple idea. It’s something I started doing this year and, even though I’m not finished with one full year of this journal, it’s the only journal I have ever been able to consistently and continually write in every day, and it’s completely changed my mindset.
[00:03:03] Now, for me, what I focused on for my five- year journal was my author career. I know that I eventually want to leave my day job behind and focus on writing full-time. So as part of my commitment to that, I decided to write a few lines down each day about any progress I made as I worked towards that goal. This journal doesn’t give you a lot of room to write, which is great because, you know, a lot of days you may not have anything to write down, and I know I certainly don’t.
[00:03:32] Some days I’ve written things like “Exhausted from the Day Job, so didn’t write anything” or “feeling like shit today. No progress towards author-related projects”. And whatever guilt I feel about doing “nothing” on those days, I let that guilt go. I don’t need to write every day to make my dream happen. I don’t need to do something every day to make my dream happen.
[00:03:56] The important thing is that I’m working consistently, not constantly towards my dreams, and I am doing that. And when I have good days, I note those, too. I know words I’ve written in, which books I’m writing, and release days, and even online courses I’m taking for business or to improve my writing. I’ve even chronicled the launch of this podcast, which is great. In four years when I finish this journal, I’ll have hopefully published another over 200 podcasts, and isn’t that crazy to think about? I’m not letting myself feel guilty for the days when the page is blank or if I write I did nothing, because those days are also part of my journey to success.
[00:04:40] You can’t have good days without bad days, and I think we often get in the habit of only journaling the good. Put the bad down on paper because those days are just as valid and valuable as the others. It’s amazing to me how much I’ve accomplished in a year, even when I’ve had so many days where I was sick or just exhausted or overwhelmed at work, and didn’t do any writing or didn’t do anything. I still accomplished so much this year and I have this record of it to help motivate me as I move forward.
[00:05:13] Along with a unique way of goal setting and planning that I’ve developed for myself, this journal has really changed my mindset about what I can accomplish. You know, one of the things I think a lot about is where I was when I first started writing back in 2013. At that time, I could not have imagined I would be here today, that I would be, you know, 20 books in and that I would be working on my next few books and continuing my author career and launching a podcast. I would never have thought that I could have launched a podcast back in 2013.
[00:05:45] So much has changed in the last five years for me personally and mentally and physically, and I’ve accomplished so much and I don’t give myself enough credit for it. Maybe you’re the same. Maybe you don’t give yourself enough credit for everything you’ve done, either. You know, science has shown us that our brain always wants to focus on the negative and that you have to force it to focus on the positive. So by having this journal where I can look at it and look back, it helps me feel positive about the next four or five years.
[00:06:17] I can’t wait until this journal is finished and I can look back and compare my author career then versus now. I never could have imagined that I would be here today where I am now, and it makes me so hopeful for the future. Despite everything negative that’s going on in my life, I am hopeful. And this is one of the most powerful benefits of journaling and I feel like of this journal in particular. It helps me acknowledge my successes in spite of the bad days, and it shows me how much I have accomplished both big and small, and motivates me to keep going. I know I’ll have bad days, but I’ll still succeed despite them. I know I can succeed despite them.
[00:07:00] I mean, there will always be problems in life. There will always be issues. There is always going to be things that you’re working out in your personal life, in your day job life, in your author life with your books. But this journal can help with that, too, because I can see on paper some of the obstacles that I’ve faced this past year, and I know that I can get past them. If they come up again, I’ll figure them out and I’ll keep going. And so this journal has just been a really fantastic tool to help motivate me and keep me moving forward.
[00:07:34] Now, there are a lot of other uses for this journal. You don’t just need to use it to chronicle where you are with your writing or your author career like me. You could use this if you wanted to get healthier to track, say, how much you worked out, or what types of food you were eating. If you have chronic health issues, you could use this journal to track pain or medications or other health-related things. You could also use this as a sort of journal for your kids through their first five or next five years of their life, and note the different moments that you want to remember, or different memories. And then you can give that journal to your kids when they’re older so they’ll have it.
[00:08:14] Just wow. There are so many different things you can do with this five-year journal, and those are just a few. So really think creatively about what one thing you might use the dedicated journal to focus on, something that you really want to track. Remember to let go of the guilt even if you don’t have any progress at all, or you skip days writing in it. You know, you wouldn’t necessarily work out every day. So if you were using this as a health journal, you could just write that you didn’t work out on specific days or just not write anything at all, even if you’re chronicling your kids lives. You don’t need to record something every day, but the option is there if you need it. So think about the different things that you could use this journal for and don’t feel guilty if you skip days.
[00:08:59] There are different versions of this book out there and I have a list of several of them in my blog post, so be sure to check out the show notes for the link to the blog.
[00:09:08] As with many of my podcasts, I have a free resource to help you. If you want to try out this type of journaling for yourself before you invest in the full journal, I have a free template that you can use. Check out the show notes for the link to my blog where you can access this free resource.
[00:09:24] Now I want to hear from you. Do you journal? Would you try a five year journal? How has your author life changed since you first started writing? Please head to the blog and join our community by leaving a comment now. I’d also be very grateful if you could take a moment and leave a review for this podcast. Wherever you like to listen. Thank you.
[00:09:45] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you. One: access to my growing library of free resources for authors; and Two: you’ll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge “How to Write Faster in 14 Days” where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.