“Get in the habit of welcome your words. You are making a map to the days of your life” – Naomi Shihab Nye
With September high upon us, schools back and jobs pilling up, who else has been feeling a little overwhelmed and could do with some structure, internal space and focus?
I’ve been thinking about the power of habits of late (with particular help from James Clear’s excellent book, Atomic Habits). It got me making an inventory of the habits which serve, those with don’t and those I’d like to introduce so as to support my business vision, mental and physical health… and basically, help me get my snazzle together.
Looking back at the inventory of the habits which have served, one in particularly jumps out: my 30+ year daily journaling habit. Since I was 11, daily writing has become part of me. Those blank pages are my sanctuary and idea incubator, a shoulder to cry on and a friend to celebrate with. These last 18 months, they’ve also been a lifeline.
In thinking about the benefits regular journaling, one would think I’m describing some sort of wonder drug: increased focus and attention, reduction in stress hormones, support with idea generation and creative flow, assistance with the development of personal awareness and inner resilience, brings routine and structure, is low cost and efficient. But that’s the thing, a pen and paper, regularly administered, may cause… all of the above.
But journaling need not be hard labour, needing hours of our time. I’ve learned that as little as 5 minutes a day can help turn my day around. So maybe the question is: where to start, and how to sustain the practice for the real long term benefits to accrue.
In thinking about these questions, I’ve developed a workshop to share 5x5min journaling techniques to help you establish and sustain a regular writing habit. They include things like intention setting, curiosity mapping and ‘future writing’, plus I’ve updated the workshop to include more tips and tricks of how to keep your practice going.
My next workshop is this coming Sunday, 26th Sept (5-7pm, Irish Time).
You just need to bring a pen and notebook/ journal…
However, I know not all people can make the live workshops. So if you are still keen to develop your own practice, first step is to set aside 5 mins of your day (mark time and location into your schedule). Then show up with your journal, and here are a few reflective prompts to bring you more into awareness and develop the valuable technique of perspective taking. Set a timer for minimum 5 mins (you may have more time on some of the days), and see where the following prompts take you…
- Today, I’m beginning to notice…
- What if look at (insert challenge) from a future perspective. I’d realise…
- When I give myself permission to simply relax and accept, these things begin to release their hold…
May your words help you to make maps to your heart, and put hope in your hands,
Other journaling resources:
It doesn’t matter what kind of notebook you use, but I have to say, I’m a huge fan of moleskins. I write on blank extra-large softbacks. My drug of choice!
Natalie Goldberg’s beautiful and encouraging book, Writing Down the Bones
Christina Baldwin’s ‘Storycatcher’