There were (and will be) times in life when ‘gratitude’ feels hard. I guess it’s only human.
Despite knowing the benefits of gratitude, we also know that knowing what to do is one thing, while actually DOING IT is another thing. It can be hard to feel grateful when we’re going through rough patches, although this is probably the time when we need the ‘attitude of gratitude the most’.
So, during those times when I sit down to write my gratitude for the day and it feels somehow difficult (or I keep repeating the same things to be grateful about without really feeling it), I do this instead:
I begin by acknowledging the things that (I think) don’t go well in my life at the moment, and then I work with these prompts in my journal (or say these things in my mind):
1. “But at least, at the moment, I don’t have to worry about _______. So, thank you, for _______.”
2. “But, maybe it’s not THAT bad, because at least I _______. So, I’m grateful for _______.”
3. “However, today I can still _______. So, thank you for _______.”
I realize that framing my ‘gratitude’ this way, makes it feel easier. At times, it even feel more genuine, more relevant, and more immediate.
Let’s see one of those prompts in action:
“My flight is delayed for 3 hours, but maybe it’s not THAT bad, because at least I can spend my time working from here. Thank you for I still have work! And that my laptop is fully charged. And I’m grateful for this waiting room, with its free Internet access, with the AC working well, the plugs for recharging, and oh, thank you for those coffee shops nearby; so I can grab a cup of latte when I want. Wow, I’m grateful that I have more than enough money to buy a cup of latte…”
I find these prompts helpful to let me ‘roll’ into the ‘attitude of gratitude’ even if I started out by acknowledging my fears, worries, or difficulties.
As I write/think the next sentence, and the next, and the next, I can feel how each one gives my mood a tiny uplift.
>>> Click here to download my morning journaling prompt <<<
I have always considered journaling as a private and intimate practice. I have always been writing in my journals since my childhood days, writing my thoughts, feelings, and dreams. It wasn’t until recently that I started to share some pages of my ‘art’ journal online… and I have been lucky enough to find a community of kind people who are interested in journaling as much as I do.
However, I wouldn’t deny that being exposed to many people who journal in many different ways, with different supplies and notebooks and favorite tools is a slippery slope. If we’re not careful, it’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap. Suddenly, we are confused about our ‘journaling style’. We don’t have the right notebook. Or pen. We don’t have those lovely stickers or stamps. Suddenly, we want more, we want to buy more. Journaling practice becomes a burden, a reminder that we’re not good enough, or we don’t have enough.
I am not immune to those feelings, of course. However, I tried to ‘catch’ myself from time to time, by asking some questions that can help me gain clarity about my journaling practice and my personal connection to it. After all, journaling is a personal journey. We need to find something that feels good and kind, something that works for us.
So, I’d like to invite you to join me in this 9-minute journaling practice to ask ourselves some questions about journaling. I hope, this can help you gain more clarity about your connection with your journal and your journaling practice.
As much as I love to share some pages of my daily/art journals on social media, I also have some private journals that I keep strictly for myself. For me, it’s about finding balance in what you can share and what you can’t, and about not having to feel stressed or burdened by your journaling practice.
Journaling should be something relaxing and soothing, don’t you think?
Do you have any similar experiences? I would love to hear from you 🙂
>>> Click here to download my morning journaling prompt <<<
Morning journaling has become a part of my morning routine for years. I find this practice helps me to ease into my day gently, with more awareness and clarity about my state of being (how I feel, what I’ve been thinking, etc.) before the rush of the day begins. It’s a way for me to find my ‘calm’ in the morning, something that keeps me centered and grounded.
It took only 4.5 – 5 minutes for me to do this practice but it’s enough to help me approach and plan the day better. For instance, how I would structure and plan my day would be different for the days when I woke up feeling groggy, grumpy, and tired, and the days when I woke up feeling cheerful, inspired, and energized. This is my way of checking in and reconnecting with myself, to see what I need more or less of on a particular day.
This video explains more about my morning journaling practice, and the journaling prompts I use (that can be downloaded here):
Do you have any morning journaling practice? Do you journal in the morning or work on your morning pages? Feel free to share your practice and journaling prompts down below! I would love to hear from you!
To start, read some random pages of your journal(s), quickly. Start from the first page, then randomly flipping it to the next pages, until you arrived at your latest entry. Just skim those pages for about 10-15 minutes.
1. the choice of words
What are some of the words that pop into our mind or catch our eyes as we’re reading our journal(s)?
Write them down.
What kind of words are they? How do these words make us feel?
Notice some words that make us feel happy, uplifted, and warm, and underline these words with our pen.
Notice some words that make us feel angry, sad, or down.
Which set of words do we use more often when we’re talking to ourselves or thinking about our life?
How can we converse better with ourselves by paying more attention to our choice of words?
2. the theme of our journal(s)
If there’s a one-word theme for our journal(s), what would that be?
How do we feel about this theme?
Why do we think our journal(s) is concentrated around this particular theme?
How does this theme reflect the theme of our life?
What would life look like if we’re following this theme?
What would life look like if we change the theme?
3. the ones on repeat
Find the top 3 things that appear in our journal(s) repeatedly, over and over again.
What are they?
A particular person?
A particular issue?
A particular dream?
Why do we keep talking about these 3 things over and over again?
What are their significances in our lives?
What do these 3 things represent or symbolize?
If we can rewrite these 3 things, how would we rewrite them to better fit our narratives about how we’d like our life to look/feel like?
What would you pack to go on an inner journey; wandering to the deepest part of yourself you’ve long forgotten, a strange terrain and unfamiliar territory you don’t even know existed; crossing that bridge between memories and things buried underneath—a magical place from where your soul is calling you; have always been calling you?
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
INTUITIVE JOURNALING FOR SELF-DISCOVERY
During my university days, I bumped into WILD MIND by Natalie Goldberg, a book about writing for writers. Little did I know that this book would change my life.
It is from this book that I got introduced to free-writing, a technique to beat procrastination and inner critic by performing a timed writing practice and just write as fast you can, without stopping, without thinking, without editing.
This technique allowed me (as an aspiring writer back then) to fill notebooks upon notebooks with dialogues, characters, story ideas, descriptions, settings, anything. All in all, these notebooks have become my endless source of writing inspiration.
Since I have a habit of writing journals (since I was 6 years old), I decided to experiment by using the same technique to document my days, thoughts, and experiences. I would grab my journal and write as fast as I could (usually in bed), and poured whatever thoughts that crossed my mind until I was tired.
It wasn’t until 11 years later when I found myself studying and practicing meditation, that I connected the dots.
One day, I gathered all my journals from the last 11 years and read them again: all those pages filled with tears and laughter, angry scribbles, and joyful handwriting. Amidst all those chaotic scrawls, I found messages, words, or sentences that jumped out of the pages because they sounded so ‘foreign’. Not in a bad way, but in a way that surprised me. “Did I write this? How was it possible that I came upon such knowledge, such wisdom, such revelation?”
Rereading my journal pages throughout the years allowed me to discover something new about myself. It gave me the ability to connect the dots: why I have certain fears, why I hate my body, why I have certain beliefs about money or success, why I have a significant amount of self-doubt, why I do not want to show my weaknesses, why I have the tendency to be a people pleaser.
The insights I got about myself and my life from reading those journal pages were breathtaking!
From this moment on, I started experimenting and combining the things I’ve learned about meditation, mindfulness, and self-development with Natalie Goldberg’s free writing technique. I used this combined technique to fill my journal pages: to find out more about myself, to make decisions, to find some root causes of my problems or beliefs, or at times, simply to clear my mind. I called the practice “intuitive journaling” because I believe that when we’re so deep in our writing or journaling practice, our intuition can speak to/through us.
Intuitive journaling helps you to explore your inner wisdom and intuition through writing and journaling. The aim is simply to peel the layers of your own lives and listening to the messages it delivers. — Hanny
A few years ago, I started sharing this practice with my close circle of friends, and through my social media accounts. Invitations to facilitate semi-private workshops followed right after, where I led participants through an intuitive journaling practice.
Major life (and location) changes that happened last year, however, made it difficult for me to set a fixed schedule on when I would be able to facilitate another intuitive journaling workshop. Thus, this year, I decided to bring these workshops online. I will share the tips, techniques, prompts, practice, stories, and sessions about intuitive journaling so you can do it yourself, from wherever you are, whenever you feel the need to do it.
WHAT WE’LL NEED
A space to write; ideally where you won’t be interrupted. A pen or pencil or any other writing tools that you like, will allow you to handwrite really fast.
A journal/book is recommended, but a piece of paper is okay, too. You do not want a notebook that is too expensive or too precious, because you’ll handwrite in it fast and the results will be chaotic. Well, it’s going to look like a mess (a beautiful mess nonetheless); but you can rewrite some insights or passages you’d like to keep in a nicer notebook later.
A kitchen timer or anything that can function as a timer. A mobile phone can come in handy as it has an alarm clock and a timer, but make sure it won’t be a distraction.
A bottle of water, or tea, or juice. For some reason, intuitive journaling sessions will make you thirsty.
A willingness to follow the steps and rules throughout your intuitive journaling session, an open heart, and an open mind.
EMBRACE OUR SPACE
We can do intuitive journaling wherever we are. We only need to make sure that we can embrace the space we’re in, fully.
This space can be a physical space: our room, the coffee shop, the bus stop, or an office cubicle. Embrace our physical space, by sending gratitude towards the place and appreciating its beauty, no matter how small. Even places that seem ugly or disorderly on the surface are beautiful. If we find it hard to see or feel the beauty of our physical space, we can add some things we consider beautiful to this space: a picture of a loved one, a favorite candle, a faint scent of our go-to essential oil blend, or a green house plant. Appreciate how these things complement our physical space.
This space can also be a mental space. It can be connected to our thoughts, our feelings, or our emotions. Embrace whatever thoughts, feelings, or emotions we are having. Respect these thoughts, feelings, and emotions by accepting them as they are, without trying to judge, label, or push them away. Thank them because they are helping us to understand ourselves more and they help us grow.
“Your space includes your physical, mental, and spiritual space.”
This space also includes a spiritual space: a space for power much greater than ourselves, for our spiritual or religious beliefs, and our inner guidance and intuition. Embrace this space by allowing them to protect and assist us throughout the process, for instance by saying a prayer, chanting sutras, or meditating.
SET OUR INTENTION
The next step is to set our intention for our intuitive journaling session.
We can set our intention by saying, “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to … “; followed by our intention.
However, it is best to be open when setting our intention instead of trying to push our agenda.
For instance, instead of saying, “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me why X would be the right career path for me.”, it is better to stay open by saying, “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me what I need to know about this career path,” or “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to discover the things I need to know about this career path.”
“Be open when setting your intention. You do not want to push your agenda.” — Hanny
Instead of saying, “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me how I can get into a relationship with X.”, it is better to say, “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me how to move forward,” or “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me what I desire from a relationship,” or “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me what would I do if I love and respect myself.”
By being open with our intention, we are allowing ourselves to loosen our grip and flow. When we’re not sure how to set our intention, we can always say, “I set my intention for this intuitive journaling session to show me the things I need to know at this particular moment in life.”
WRITE OUR THOUGHTS
Set our timer to 5 minutes.
For 5 minutes, watch and follow our thoughts and write them down as fast as we can. Write them down as they are, as strange as they are, as random as they are, as weird as they are, as chaotic as they are.
Our task is simply to watch and record these thoughts by writing them down. We do not label them, judge them, analyze them, or question them. We allow them to appear, we notice them, and we write them down.
Think of it as a writing meditation. In meditation practice, we learn to watch our thoughts. The practice is not about emptying our thoughts and making it sterile from any thoughts, but it’s more about watching our thoughts as they come, notice their presence, and let them go.
For 5 minutes, follow our thoughts, no matter what comes up, and pluck these thoughts from our minds and write them down in our journal.
“Follow your thoughts as they wander, pen on paper. Follow them wherever.”
The key is to do this practice by writing as fast as we can, without lifting our pen from the paper. Write without pausing, without stopping, without erasing, without hesitating. Move our hands as fast as our thoughts; as they will keep coming and going, and changing, and reappearing.
We may write something like, “I don’t know what to say, I’m hungry, I don’t want to go to work tomorrow, oh, I have to pay my insurance, damn, what is that on the table, why my mind is like this…” Go on. It’s good. Keep writing them down until the time is up.
START OUR INTUITIVE JOURNALING SESSION
Set our timer to 5, 7, 9, or 11 minutes.
We can start our intuitive journaling session by asking an open question related to our situation, or by using some journaling prompts: “Why it is so difficult for me to move on?” or “How can I feel more confident?” or “Why I keep repeating the same pattern in my relationship?” are some sample of questions we can ask to begin our session. When we do not have any particular question, we can select a journaling prompt that speaks to our hearts. Search for “journaling prompts” on this blog to spark some ideas.
Once we have a question or a prompt to work with, we can start our intuitive journaling session. With the question or the prompt in mind, start writing as fast as we can, following the first pop of thoughts, words, or sentences in our mind.
“Ask the question and let your intuition and inner wisdom guide you. Trust the process and stay open.”
Be discipline to simply follow wherever our mind goes, the way we did during our writing meditation practice. When we feel as if we’ve strayed too far, glance at the question or the prompt for a second, then start writing again by following whatever crossed your mind.
Keep our hands moving as fast as our thoughts. Follow that urge to write certain words or sentences even if we think it’s not true, ridiculous, or makes no sense. Surrender to the way our thought and our hand moves. Let things flow and trust our process until the time is up.
When we’re pausing, stopping, or hesitating, we won’t be having an optimal intuitive journaling session.
CREATE OUR MANTRA
When our session is finished, express our gratitude. Thank ourselves for taking this time to get in touch with our inner selves. Then, scan our handwriting on the page quickly, and highlight any words or sentences that ‘jumps’ out of the pages, that instantly catch our attention.
Do not think too much when performing this task. As always, trust our intuition. Do not meticulously hover around one sentence for a long period of time, or consciously trying to choose a sentence that we think will sound great; or smart.
Just follow our instinct and highlight the first few words that stir something inside of us.
If we find a message that speaks to us and lifts us up, for instance Just go for it, or follow your heart, or don’t worry too much. We can rewrite it on a post-it note or set it as our phone wallpaper, to act as a mantra: a reminder.
Keep or repeat the mantra to ourselves as much as we like, or meditate with it until we feel the message resonating in our hearts. When it’s time, appreciate your gratitude for this message, and let it go.
“Certain words and sentences would jump out of the pages of your notebook: your mantra.”
If the things that catch our attention are something that weighs us down or makes us feel tense, for instance, I am so afraid of X or I am not sure I can do this or I hate X, it’s okay, too. Accept that these are the things that have absorbed our attention at the moment.
What we can do next is rewriting these sentences by framing them into an open-neutral question instead. For instance, What would I do if I am not afraid of X, or What is possible if I am sure that I can do this, or What can I do to be better at this?, or How would my life change if I do not hate X?
We do not need to answer this question. This question can be our mantra, too.
Now that you’ve learned the steps of intuitive journaling, if it resonates with you somehow, I would be happy if you give it try. Feel free to reach out and let me know about your experience. Is it difficult or challenging? How do you feel? Do you stop writing midair? What do you find exciting? What surprise you? What do you discover or learn about yourself, your mind, and your memories?
In the next few days, I will be back with more intuitive journaling tips, techniques, and prompts, so you can practice during your downtime or creative hour. Oh, I will also share some journaling prompts via my Instagram stories; so feel free to connect if you’re on the platform!
For the time being, happy journaling!
DISCLAIMER: The content of this post is intended solely as an alternative creative practice and creative expression for those who love writing and journaling, and interested in the topic of self-discovery. The entire contents of this post are based upon my personal opinion and life experience. They are not intended to replace any diagnosis, therapy, or treatment from any qualified health care professionals, and they are not intended as medical, behavioral, psychological, or therapeutic advice of any kind. You acknowledge that you take full responsibility for your health, life, and wellbeing, and for all decisions made by you, now or in the future.
Happy #2020! The first thing I do on the 1st of January (apart from finishing left-over food from our NY dinner celebration) is to set up my bullet journal (Bujo) for the year! If you’re not familiar with bullet journaling, I would suggest you watch this video, or better, read the book The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carrol.
Personally, I love the book more than the videos, simply because the book gives a better overview of this method (as the subtitle suggested) to “track the past, order the present, and design the future”. I got a lot of nuggets and inspiration from the book to put my life in order, so I would recommend you to read it, even if you’re not going to use the bullet journal method itself.
As usual, this year, I am using my bullet journal mostly for things related to work/project/self-improvement. I don’t use it as a daily/personal journal (the way some people do), because I write and journal a lot (maybe too much!), so I have a separate journal to pour my heart out.
My previous bullet journals have always been so minimalist and straight-to-the-point, but this year I decided to have a playful one, with splashes of colors and illustrations I draw myself. I want to plan and have fun and draw a lot, thus, this is how I set up my Bujo 2020:
I love the paper quality and the number of pages in this notebook (serve me well for the whole year). Plus, it comes with two bookmarks (one blue, one striped); so I can refer quickly to 2 sections in my bullet journal.
In this post, I will refer to how I set up my bullet journal using this particular notebook (and how I divided the pages), but feel free to use any notebooks you have to host your bullet journal! If you have a random empty notebook lying around, use that instead! You can even make your own cute dangling bookmark to go with it—see the instructions here.
I decorated the cover with a sticker from Flow Magazine’s Book for Paper Lovers (most of the stickers/note papers used inside this bullet journal comes from that book) and write ‘Bujo 2020’ with a white marker.
Contact Info Page
Next, I drew myself (and my house), then wrote down my name and address on the contact page. I also slapped down some washi tapes I got from HEMA (4 washi tapes for 3 euros!)—that I’ll be using to decorate/flag/page-mark this bullet journal.
The Leuchtturm notebook I’m using comes with 3 index pages, so you can create a table of content of your own bullet journal. It helps you to find certain things/topics in your bullet journal easier.
Page 1. Inside Cover Page
I just drew myself (along with my best friend Nia in her cat form!) and write ‘Bujo 2020’ with colored pencils.
Page 2-3. 2019 Reflection + 2020 Intention
For my 2019 Reflection, I started out by writing some milestones from the previous year. Next, I’ll write down some stuff from 2019, including:
things I’m grateful for
things I’ve learned
people I’m thankful for
things that went well
I will also write some thoughts about how I would ‘summarize’ 2019. What do I like/dislike about it, what are some of the challenges I’m facing, and what are some of the things I could improve.
For my 2020 Intention, I will start by writing down some areas of life I’d like to focus on (i.e. strengthening my spiritual practice, experimenting with various ways of self-expression, etc.). I will also write down about my ‘ideal’ 2020 here. What are the things I’d like to experience, people I’d like to meet, achievements I’d like to accomplish? How do I want this year to turn out?
Page 4-5. 2020 Overview
At the end of each month, I will write 3-5 milestones or highlight from that particular month here. The idea is to look back at this page at the end of 2020 and being able to see my year at a glance.
Page 6-7. Goals & Bucket List + Note to Self
For my goals & bucket list, I will write my goals for 2020 here, along with some things I’d like to have/experience. You can read this post to find out how I set up my yearly goals—and this post I wrote about why (most of the time) our New Year resolutions don’t work.
The note-to-self page will be filled with quotes & affirmations, as well as empowering words from myself, for myself. When I am in doubt or in need of encouragement, I can flip into this page and cheer up a little. I think of it as my tiny self-help page; a quick fix to brighten up my days and lift up my mood.
Page 8-11. Future Log
Here, you can find the tiny calendar of every month in 2020. I left the bottom part empty to write down some of the things that come up; as well as some tentative schedules/appointments. The things on these pages may happen or may not happen. They are not set in stones. It’s just my way to have a peek into the future and see what is waiting for me. For instance, I’d like to finish the first draft of my new book in May 2020, so I may write it down underneath the month of May in pencil.
Page 12-13. Yearly Stats
There are some things I’d like to track each month this year, so I make this spread to track them and see them all in one go. At the moment, I see two main areas I’d like to keep a close eye on: my finance and my platforms. I’d like to write down the latest stats of these two things by the end of every month and as the year progress, I can also see how things grow (or plummet!) from one month to the next.
Page 14-15. January Monthly Persona + Monthly Check-in & Intention
On page 14, I drew myself as ‘an artist’. Throughout the year, I want to draw myself as different personas, the ‘imaginary’ me who are living a different lifeline or having different professions. ‘The Artist’ is my monthly persona for January.
The goal is basically to ‘get out of your head’ and try to imagine another possible version of you; to open yourself up to the possibilities of being you in a different light. If you watch Netflix’s Sense8, think of it as something similar to that!
A lot of us use our weaknesses to make excuses to do/not to do something, but what if we leave who we are, and ask what our alter ego would do instead? For me, this month, I’ll think of the daily routines, strengths, quirks, or qualities of ‘The Artist’ version of myself, and experience living this month from that perspective.
On page 15, I will do my January check-in; writing about my state of being entering this month of January. How do I feel, what am I happy/unhappy about, what excites/worries me, etc. And then I will write my January intention: how I would like this month to turn out? What are the things I’d like to happen this month so I can feel fulfilled?
Page 16-17. January Monthly List + Gratitude
On my monthly List page, I will write down the books I read this month; some podcasts I listen to or some courses I followed on Skillshare or Domestika. If I watch a really good movie/documentary, I may note the title down as well.
On the Gratitude page, I write down the dates of each day in January, and every day, I will write some of the things I’m grateful for. I have been keeping my gratitude practice close to heart. It’s a very simple thing to do, but it has helped me to stay humble and grounded.
Page 18-19. January Monthly Ideas & Content Ideas
I have such a busy mind, and I get daily sparks of inspiration and ideas that will be forgotten if I don’t write them down. So on my Ideas page, I write the number of each day in January to note some random ideas that cross my mind that day (I may or may not execute the idea; it’s just nice to look back at all those random bursts of ideas!).
Next to it is my Content page, where I will write down some random content ideas or topics I have in mind. I color-code it with pink for Instagram, blue for Blog, and green for YouTube, so I know where I publish/share a particular content (if I decide to work on it).
Page 20-21. January Tracker & Planner + Income/Expense
On page 20, I have my January Tracker & Planner. Next to the day/date, I have a column with 3 habits I’d like to track this month: meditation, movement, and art practice. I know it’s tempting to build and track loads of good habits at the beginning of the year, but I always find it too overwhelming. I decided that I will concentrate on a maximum of 3 things/habits to track per month. In the next two columns, I have my Work Planner and Personal Planner, where I list down work/project deadlines and work/personal appointments.
On page 21, I have my Income/Expense tracker; and it’s pretty straightforward. Just a simple table to keep me accountable for my finance!
Page 22. January Weekly/Daily Planner
This is my Weekly/Daily Planner where everything happens as I go about my days: I log my plans, deadlines, appointments, to-do lists, weekly intentions, ongoing projects, notes… basically anything I need to write down to stay on track and organized. I usually fill up 2 pages every week. If I need more pages to jot down things, I can just tape a scrap paper or a memo paper on this page with washi tape.
For each day, I also write down my ‘effective working hours’ from 10 am to 5 pm, to track and evaluate what I am doing during these (supposed to be) productive hours.
Page 33. January Reflection
I left enough pages for my whole weekly/daily planner in January plus some empty pages for notes and braindumps, until page 33 where I will write down my Monthly Reflection at the end of the month. I will write some highlights/achievements from the month along with how I feel about the month in general. Am I happy about it? Am I proud of myself? What went well and what can be improved?
The template is repeated for each month throughout the year 2020, and I have divided my notebook into equal page counts, so it will last until the end of the year (plus some extra pages for random notes): Page 34 – February, Page 54 – March, Page 72 – April, Page 90 – May, Page 108 – June, Page 126 – July, Page 144 – August, Page 162 – September, Page 180 – October, Page 198 – November, Page 216 – December, Page 234 – Reflection of 2020, Page 235-249 – Random Notes.
Do you bullet journal? Do you have a planner? Do you use any other system to stay on track and organize your day? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.
NOTE: From time to time, I turn to you (yes, all of you) when I have no idea about what to write on this blog. Feel free to drop an email or DM me on Instagram if you have any ideas/questions for the blog! This post is to answer a question from @gendutsantiago
Q: How to be consistent with journaling?
A: I think the first step would be to answer these 2 questions:
Why do you think you need to journal?
Why do you think you need to be consistent with it?
I actually keep several ‘journals’ and I journal in them for different reasons.
MY JOURNALS & WHAT I USE THEM FOR
I have a private journal that serves as a diary, to write down my deepest thoughts and feelings whenever I feel the need to unload those things from my chest (or my brain).
I also have a decorated journal which I adorned with stickers, stamps, and collages–the one I shared online via my Instagram or YouTube channel. I work on this journal whenever I feel the need to wind down by doing something creative with my hands.
I have my messy ‘work journal‘ that mimics the functionality of a bullet journal, and I have it next to me whenever I am working. It’s my go-to journal to track the progress, to-dos, payments, and other stuff related to the clients I’m working with or the personal projects I’m working on. It also serves as a medium for me to think ‘on-paper’ about other work-related stuff, like generating ideas for communications training, drawing an outline of a proposal (or a new book), recording meeting results, or planning my moves for the next 3 months.
A journal I updated on a daily basis is my daily highlight journal.
It simply records what I do on a particular day: waking up (at what time), how do I feel upon waking up, where do I go, what am I working on, who do I meet, what do I buy (if any), what do I have for lunch and dinner, what book I am reading, what time I go to sleep. Just mundane things that I summarize in 1-2 word(s)/line(s): Wake up late. Coffee. Silent time. Re-read The Four Agreements. Shower. Editing works. Reorganize my drawer.
Sure, sometimes there are big things: like being proposed, signing a new project, or traveling to someplace nice; but on most days, just simple things.
I have been writing in this journal since the middle of last year, and I am enjoying it so much! As I am working on this journal, I can review how my day goes (do I like it? do I need to do something else tomorrow?) and as I am flipping back through my previous days, I can see how each day is actually unique.
I guess we tend to compress our weeks, months, or years into a few ‘big’ moments, life-changing experiences, or amazing encounters. But recording my days on a daily basis helps me to cherish and remember each day as its own. The practice also allows me to be mindful of how my day unfolds.
MY THOUGHTS ON ‘BEING CONSISTENT’
I think if we understand why we do certain things and can see the value they bring into our lives, we’ll find more reasons (and motivations) to be consistent.
Sure, we can force ourselves to be consistent and be disciplined about keeping up with our practice (like journaling, for instance), but what’s the point of doing so if we don’t gain any benefit from that practice? However, if we can feel the benefit of any practice, we have all the reasons to be consistent with it, because we can feel its positive impact on our lives.
With that being said, I also need to let you know that I think, ‘being consistent’ is not equal to ‘doing things on a daily basis’.
Sometimes I missed updating my daily highlight journal when I’m traveling or on a road trip, but I immediately record those 2 or 3 days I have skipped when I have the time. Thus I can always catch up. I work on my other journals only when I feel the need or the urge to do so. Sometimes I fill them up every day for a month, and some other times I do not touch them for a week, a month, 2 months.
But it doesn’t matter, because I know I’ll come back to them when I need them.
THE PRACTICE OF JOURNALING FEEDS MY SOUL
It helps me to let things go (and let some things in), to detach myself from my noisy and chaotic monkey mind, to reflect on my life, to remember the things I thought I have forgotten, to discover something new about myself, to record my fleeting thoughts and feelings (and mood swings), to spark my creativity, to have fun.
Thus, I am still coming back to my journaling practice whenever I feel the calling to do it.
I have spent the last few weeks in 2018 to rest, relax, and reflect. Mostly, I choose to stay at home or catch up with my closest friends, read some books, or plan the upcoming year, clean my space ,and sip loads of nutmeg and turmeric latte.
I have also gone a bit absent from social media, especially Twitter and Facebook (have deleted these 2 applications from my phone), and for the past week, I haven’t published anything on Instagram (but still checking some new updates from friends on my feed for 10-15 minutes every day).
I would like to simply enjoy the feeling of being me, of being alone, of reconnecting with myself, of doing things for the sake of doing it–not for social media.
This New Year’s Eve, I am at home, reflecting on 2018 and setting my intention for 2019. I always prefer a quiet New Year’s Eve, because I love the feeling of ‘closing the year’ with solitude and serenity–writing how I feel, what I think, and how I’d like the upcoming year to be.
I once wrote about creating a feeling-based New Year’s Resolution, and today I want to write about this topic again–since I have extended my previous approach; making it more effective and efficient for me. It all begins with this question:
WHY MOST OF OUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FAIL?
There are 3 reasons I can think of, based on my experience:
They are too big/overwhelming. Most of the time, we tend to set up huge goals for the upcoming year and overestimate our capabilities to achieve those goals. On another note, this could also be our way of self-sabotaging ourselves: by setting a goal that is too big, we would feel less guilty if we fail to achieve it–precisely because we can tell ourselves that the goal is just too big/overwhelming.
They are insignificant. If we set a certain goal/resolution, but our lives will still be relatively okay even if we don’t achieve that goal/resolution, we won’t have enough drive to pursue this goal. Often times, we set goals that would be nice to achieve, but the goal is not that important/significant for our lives. (Think about the goal of ‘losing weight’ because we think it-will-make-us-look-better vs we-can-get-hospitalized-if-we-don’t-lose-weight; can you feel how different the level of motivation would be?)
They are never ours in the first place. Yes, sometimes our goals/resolutions are the things we thought we should want. Maybe these goals are something the society believes to be great or something our parents would be proud of. It could be something that our peers desire. We choose a particular goal, thinking that is what we want, but actually, it’s what other people want–we just feel as if we need to want that same goal to conform.
ONE MISTAKE I DID IN MY PREVIOUS YEAR’S RESOLUTION SETTING
In the previous year, I also did the mistake of not reflecting or evaluating on my life before making any resolutions for the upcoming year. I would hurriedly list down all my wishes and desires like an impatient child writing a letter to Santa Claus; without being clear about what I really need to focus on.
We need to know where we are to better navigate our way to where we want to be.
So, this year, I started out by evaluating and scoring 12 areas of my life:
Physical/health. Am I healthy? Do I exercise? Do I eat well? Do I sleep well?
Emotional/mental health. How do I manage my emotions? Do I have mood swings? Do I get stressed easily? Do I feel tension or anxiety?
Career. Do I enjoy what I do? Is this how I want to grow professionally? Do I get fair compensation for my work? Do I attract clients I like?
Financial/wealth. Do I have enough money to fulfill my responsibilities? Do I have enough savings for rainy days? Do I manage my money well? Do I spend my money wisely? Do I feel financially secure?
Family & friends. Do I spend enough quality time with them? How is my relationship with them? Do I feel comfortable to be around them? Do I like them? Are they supportive or toxic?
Love & relationships. Do I feel loved? Am I a loving person? Do I spend quality time with my partner? How do we connect with one another? Am I content in this relationship? Can I trust my partner?
Environment. Do I like the place where I stay/its surroundings? Do I enjoy spending my time here, in this venue/room/house/office? Can I feel content staying in this environment?
Intellectual/creativity. Do I grow intellectually/creatively? Do I learn new things or master new skills? Do I feel challenged intellectually/creatively?
Enjoyment/entertainment. Can I rest and relax? Do I have enough me-time? Do I have time for self-care? Am I happy about how I spend my holiday? Do I have a hobby that I enjoy? Do I feel like I have enough time, means, and opportunities to have fun, recharge, and refresh?
Spiritual. Do I feel connected with something else apart from the material world? How is my relationship with myself, with Source, with God? Do I feel faithful or doubtful? Do I have peace of mind?
Meaning/contribution. Do I inject meanings in the work that I do? Do I live a meaningful life? Do I have any contribution to anyone apart from myself? Do I make a difference?
Social/communal. Do I feel like I belong to something? Can I feel at-home and at-ease in my community? Do I enjoy being a part of a certain group/community? Do I share certain interests/concerns with other people/groups?
The next thing I do is scoring these 12 areas of my life.
Because when we need to score on a scale of 1 – 5 we don’t have the means to explain how 4 is different from 5, or how 1 is different than 3, I came up with these scoring explanations:
5 – Of course I want things to be better or to improve (who doesn’t?), but even if they stay the way they are for the upcoming year, I am still okay with that.
4 – It’s quite good, actually. But I know I haven’t given my best in this particular area.
3 – It’s okay. Not that bad, but I am not happy if things stay the way they are for the upcoming year.
2 – There are some problems here. I hope I can have a better experience or be more at ease in this area of my life.
1 – I don’t like this at all. I am can’t wait to see changes/improvements.
With this 1 – 5 scale as a guide, I start scoring the 12 areas of my life.
When I finish, I choose 3 areas with the lowest score that I’d like to work on in the upcoming year. If there are more than 3 areas with a similar lowest score, I will have to choose 3 things I’d like to prioritize and focus on.
THE FRAMEWORK OF WISH/DESIRE – BE/FEEL – DO/EXPERIENCE
Once I have decided on the 3 areas of life I’m not happy about–the ones I want to change/improve in the upcoming year, I transfer that particular area into this 3-column framework:
In the 1st column, I write down my wish/desire about that particular area. How is the ideal situation would look like? What kind of improvement do I want when it comes to this area of life? I just write the ideal vision I have related to this area of my life.
In the 2nd column, I write down how I would be or how I would feel if I have achieved my wishes/desires in column 1. Am I going to be a different person? How? Am I going to feel differently? How? How am I going to change from the inside if I have achieved my desired reality? How am I going to think about myself if my desires have manifested?
In the 3rd column, I write down what would I do or experience on a daily basis if I have achieved my wishes/desires in column 1, and have become the person in column 2. How would I act in different situations (at work, at home, among friends, etc.)? What are the things I could do or experience? How does it change my day-to-day habit/interaction? What can I contribute to others?
>> If until this point you haven’t done the exercise above, I would strongly recommend you to do so! Grab a pen and paper, then do the exercise before continuing reading this post! <<
CONCENTRATING NOT ON THE WISHES/DESIRES, BUT ON THE FEELINGS & EXPERIENCES
Next, I look at my answers in column 2 and 3, and for my resolutions setting in 2019, I ask myself:
What is the one thing I can do in a year, in a month, in a week, in a day, in 2 hours, to get me closer to the things I wrote in column 2 or 3?
To my surprise, a lot of the things in column 2 and 3 can be injected into my life through many different ways or means–without having to rely on the achievement of that particular wish/desire! And look at your column 3, specifically–are there things you can already do right now?
Most of the time, we are blinded by our overwhelming wishes and desires, having no clarity in why we want the things we want. Column 3 is the simple things we want in our daily lives, something that we can do or experience if we choose to do so. It’s the window to have a peek into why we want the things we desire, and surprisingly, most of the time, we only want the simple things. The one little thing that can make our days more meaningful and enjoyable.
So, cheers to simple New Year’s resolutions, to tiny steps to get closer to the person we have always wanted to be, and to those little sparks of joy that we can bring into our lives at any moment now.
Well, first, it was because of #inktober–the 31-day challenge in the art community to draw something with ink throughout October. I was thinking of joining, but I wasn’t sure that I could actually do it for 31 days. Drawing (or painting) is still something quite new to me, and I’m still trying to get a hang of it.
I was trying to come up with something that won’t take a lot of time to do and won’t need any specific tools/supplies; when it suddenly dawned on me that in 3 months, we’d say goodbye to 2018! How time flies! So, I thought, why not having a journaling exercise that will help us to reconnect and discover something new (or old) about ourselves–thus, we have 2 more months to prepare for our smooth transition to 2019?
Some refer to it as freewriting or automatic writing. The idea is to set a timer for a certain period of time: one minute, three minutes, five minutes, ten minutes up to you (although for this challenge, we’ll do a 3-minute session per day).
As the timer starts, begin writing (with pen and paper) in your journal, without really thinking, without really stopping.
Write whatever crossed your mind.
It doesn’t matter if things appear to sound weird, funny, or senseless.
The idea is to translate your tangled and busy mind into the paper.
Here’s the secret: DO NOT stop as you write, not even for a split second. Do not think. Just write until your time is up. Follow the chaos of your mind and write everything down. Everything.
You could even write something like, “I don’t know why I am doing this, oh, I’m so hungry, like so, hungry and my foot itches and what should I write this is strange really…”
Keep writing no matter what until your timer beeps.
I like to call this technique ‘intuitive writing’ or ‘intuitive journaling’ because after doing this practice for a while, you will notice the magical moment when your intuition starts talking to you from the chaos of the page.
This is exactly why you need to relax and let go of the need to control; set aside the urge to think, to edit, to look for the right words or sentences.
When you’re still trying or thinking, you are not letting your intuition take over.
So, let it flow. Let whatever needs to come out from within you find its way onto the page.
How to Join This Intuitive Writing Challenge and More.
Here’s how it’ll play out:
All you need is a pen, a notebook to write, and a timer (you can use the timer on your phone). Set the timer to 3 minutes to start your intuitive journaling session. Can you do more than 3 minutes a day? Sure. However, remember that we tend to go strong at the beginning of a project and then lose our drive a little bit more every day. Personally, I believe that completing the challenge by writing 3 minutes a day for 31 days will benefit you more than writing for 15 minutes a day, but stopping after the first 7 days. And please only write by hand! Why? Find the answer here.
Every day, before 8 am, I will post your intuitive journaling prompt on this page (at the end of this post). I don’t want to post all the prompts right away, because I think it will be overwhelming. Plus, there will always be that temptation of “thinking” about what to write for tomorrow’s prompt, which is something that will beat the purpose of intuitive journaling. So, every day, when you’re ready to write, open this page and see that day’s prompt. I will also share the prompt via my Instagram Stories.
If you want, you can share your experience of going through each challenge or even share what you write. But you don’t have to do this. Just know that you’ll benefit from it even if you want to keep the journal to yourself. Don’t feel the obligation to share if you don’t feel like it.
I am using the hashtag #intuitivejournaling #writeandwander and #octoberjournal to talk about this challenge/project on social media. I might not share what I have written throughout the challenge, but I might want to share some lessons, memories, or sentiments that come up when necessary. You can also share your experience by using those hashtags, so we can find each other. Know that you don’t have to share or use the hashtag if you don’t want to. You know I’m not fussy about those kinds of things 🙂
Have fun, and don’t forget to set your intention to use this challenge as a way to discover something about yourself, or to hear the message you need to hear.