I’m a child of the growing digital age. I wasn’t born with a computer in my hands, but I was there to see it spread like wildfire. I was handling floppy discs to crunch numbers and watching Doogie Howser. I made my first journal entry in third grade because of that immature doctor.
Ok, I actually started journaling because my teacher was my babysitter and I had to go to school early with nothing else to do. But it was still fun. I didn’t do any journaling for the next 25 years of my life, but about three years ago, after my mom died, I was inspired.
I could tell that my Dad was struggling with her passing and he felt the need to tell his stories of her to me so that I wouldn’t forget her. It made me think of what information I would leave my children or future generations. Would they know what I was really like or anything about me at all?
A Slow Start
I take pride in my penmanship. Actually, I obsess over my handwriting. It was one of the few things as a child that I knew I was good at and could control completely. I may have spelled things wrong or had sentences that made no sense, but my teacher would then say, “but look at his penmanship!”
Maybe I was taking the wrong point away from these conversations, but it made me feel good. The problem is that it also gave me a complex. Everything I write must be pretty. I can’t just scribble words in a journal. It needs to look like a machine created it for the sole purpose of showing the world how beautiful a man’s handwriting can be.
After I overcame my fears I decided I would track things that I wanted to get done and then if I actually did them.
This quickly turned into my list of daily streaks.
In my journal every day I write the date, when I went to bed and woke up, how much I weigh, and then a checklist of currently 24 things I would like to track.
The computer science portion of my brain screams when I am writing down the same things every day. But I believe it helps reinforce what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. When I make an item for running six or more miles, I know why.
It also allows for more fluidity as I can change list items if I want.
But I rarely do.
I have fallen into a pattern of leaving only dso much space for my streak list and some for free writing so that I can get two days per page.
The Actual Journal
It’s hard to write down your thoughts.
Here are my very first two journal pages.
This is actually the first time I’ve looked at this in a while and is a nice reminder of why I started. Now that I’m retired I really do believe you need to have things that you’re wanting to wake up for. I might have taken it too far though and have created my own job of streaks.
It is cool to see the things I was doing then. I used to track all the media that I consumed, mostly for posterity’s sake. I want to be able to look back and remember what things I enjoyed doing or did frequently.
The journal has turned into mainly streak tracking and then a little brain dump. A lot of time it is about finances or how I’m feeling about my streaks. I sometimes touch on my personal life, but usually, it’s more of a very brief recap of my current or previous day. I enjoy how detailed my first entry was, but it takes a good amount of time to write that all down.
One of my recent streaks is “Art” or “Handwriting.” Every four days I pick a different font and try to emulate it in my journal. It adds to the time it takes to write in the journal but also gives me another streak, so it’s not completely terrible.
Would I Recommend It?
I think it’s nice to actually spend time each day reflecting on what you did and what you want to do. Everyone can do that in their own way, but actually putting pen to paper creates a permanence that is hard to replicate. It’s the cheapist therapist as you’re going to find.