When I first started journaling, I remember challenging myself to fill up a notebook as quickly as I could. I numbered each journal with consecutive digits; and just like graduating to the next grade-level in school, I felt a secret pride that I had made it to the next number!
I remember making it my goal to write for a whole year, 365 days consecutive, without skipping a single day (that was 1989, and I accomplished that goal)!
Sometimes little games like this help keep me journaling during a dry spell. After all, a little competition (even with one’s self) can offer just the motivation one needs to keep on writing.
But over the years, I can see that journal-writing as a practice has benefits far broader than just “making it to the next notebook”:
Journaling helps me keep my focus on things that matter to me. Even if my days are filled with errands and obligations, journaling helps me keep making baby-steps of progress on my goals.
Journaling helps me identify what my true feelings are, and where they are coming from, everything from jealousy to ambition. When our feelings are misunderstood or misplaced, it can be confusing and frustrating that we act in ways we can’t explain. Knowing myself helps me to have compassion for myself, and allows me to grow.
All of these great benefits, and more, are not something that can be guaranteed in 30 days, or in 100 pages of writing. The impact of journaling cannot be measured in the number of words or entries one has written. Journaling is not a product that we produce. It is a method for the accounting of one’s life. It is a process that takes time for exploration and discovery.
And like any process that takes time, little games and arbitrary measurements (“Look! I’m on my 208th notebook!”) can help us stay on course when the process gets challenging.