What if I told you you could change your life in just five minutes a day? It sounds too good to be true right? Well, over the last year, I’ve adopted this practice that has totally transformed my life and my view of a specific topic, and that topic is journaling.
I was a massive skeptic on journaling. Not the actual art of journaling, but making it a practice in my life. Being able to do it and what does doing it look like and how do you do it well? And I think the achiever in me wanted to know all of the specifics. And honestly, whenever I would see whimsical reels of people and their morning routines and these rituals, I felt a lot of shame around the fact that my morning did not look anything like that.
And so when I think about this journaling practice, I think that a lot of my feelings about the practice of journaling were rooted in this ideal, that it had to look a certain way, that it had to feel a certain way, and I felt a lot of guilt around that. There are so many top performers out there who talk about these extensive morning routines and talk about the importance of them. And in fact, I was someone who used to scoff at that, and now I do have some semblance of that in my life, but it doesn’t unfold the same way every day. It doesn’t take two hours. It doesn’t look a specific way. It just makes me feel a certain way.
And so today I’m going to walk you through this journaling practice that I have adopted and kind of tweaked and created over the last year. If you are someone like me who is a skeptic, or who doesn’t have a lot of time, or who doesn’t have the perfect morning routine, or who wants to get better at checking in with yourself, this episode is for you. And I am so excited to walk you through my practice today. A practice that you can do if you just have a notebook and a pen. Are you ready to dive in? Let’s do it.
Making journaling a habit
When it comes to journaling, I’ve always struggled with the idea of staring at a blank page and knowing what to write. The problem with a journaling practice is that a lot of us want to document our lives or check in more with ourselves or build this habit of writing down our goals, but honestly, we don’t know where to start. We’re too busy, or we’re too overwhelmed, or we’re too paralyzed by these big visions that we have for our lives, and so we just keep running through life and we hope that it is all gonna sort itself out. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t usually work that way.
That all changed for me when I listened to an episode of the Dhru Purohit Podcast where his guest, Alex Banayan, describes this 30-day journaling challenge. And in listening to it, I understood it. I finally thought to myself, ‘I can do something for 30 days, surely I can do this.’ I thought about how it would help me move through this season of unknown. I committed to 30 days, 30 turned into 60, 60, turned into 90, then 120, and each month gave me more insight into what I needed to be focused on and where I needed to go and what this season of life could look like for me.
Alex’s journaling practice is to sit down and answer these three questions every single day: What excited me today? What exhausted me today? What did I learn today? This practice spoke to me because it felt super tactical, like I could sit down and I had a direction and wasn’t just staring down a blank page every day. Every day I have certain things that excite me, that exhaust me, and that I’m trying to learn, so it was a really cool way to experience and dive into this world of journaling again.
A golden opportunity
As journaling became a habit for me, I was sharing about it online, I was talking about it, and all of a sudden I get this email in my inbox from an incredible family-owned and women-led company called North and Third. They reached out to me and said, “We’ve noticed that you’ve been journaling, you’ve been sharing a lot about it, and we think you have a unique practice going on. We partner with people to help them create a journal.” And I was like, oh my gosh, this is something that I need. I’ve tailored this whole system to fit something that works for me. What if it could work for others?
We partnered together to create my journal, and as we started to get super intentional with the design I was thinking about, okay, what habits do I have in my life that I really value, and how do I want to create this journal and how can I share a practice that, regardless of if anyone has my journal or not, they can do it themselves?
How I designed my journal
Again, you can do this if you just have a pen and paper, but this is how I ended up creating my How Are You, Really? five-minute-a-day reflection journal. First, you want to outline each week to see what you’ve got going on. This habit makes me feel more on top of things and has helped me and Drew to sit down together and get on the same page about what’s going on for that week. It’s something I usually do on Sunday, that way I can go into the week knowing what to expect.
Once your week is outlined, there are five components to each day. Think five pieces, five minutes. The first one is just to check in. I started by writing, how am I really on a scale of one to 10? The goal here is to check in with yourself. Get really honest. This is going to help you see the tone and notice trends.
Then, I have this section for my big three, where I write down three priorities for that day. This is something I have done for years as an entrepreneur. What’s really helpful for me is to think about, if I were only to achieve three things and I had to say that today was a success, what are those three things?
Finally, you want to make a little date with yourself to review it at least monthly, or even weekly if you can swing it. The review stage allows you to reflect and start to recognize trends in your mood day-to-day. When I started reviewing my weeks I noticed when I was energetically low during the month, what activities left me feeling drained, and what left me feeling energized and excited. This really helped me to see where I may need to eliminate some of the things that were exhausting me and where I could heighten the things that were exciting me and focus on them instead, which has already made an incredible difference to the ease and enjoyment of my weeks.
We rarely go inward to check in on ourselves and ask who we really are, what we really want, and what we really want to do about it, and it’s amazing how much of an impact only 5 minutes a day can have on your life–it’s certainly changed mine. You can check out my journal at howareyoureallyjournal.com if you are curious about getting your hands on one. We are doing a super limited print run for the first run, but if it’s something that you use and love and want more of, it’s something that I am really excited to keep making.