Journaling can be a rewarding practice for anyone. I encourage it for fitness, health and adventure goals - because I've seen the many ways in which journaling can breath life into dreams, as well as be a springboard for action.
As an athlete growing up, I kept a detailed journal of training; miles logged, how I felt, physically and emotionally, how much sleep, what food was eaten, type, amount and intensity of training. There was also an annual plan and a four-year plan, right in the front of the book. I looked at these daily for several years.
Today, my journaling is more therapeutic and reflective in nature. It's a bit less goal oriented and a bit more expansive. And just like an exercise session, rarely do I do it and regret the time spent. For me, it's a way of revealing what I want, of allowing my intuition to come to the surface. Many of my clients and students use journaling for tracking progress, as well as developing ideas and dreams. It can be helpful for meeting goals, whether those goals include getting in basic shape, winning a race, losing weight -- or simply considering a new direction in life.
My first thought on journaling, is that to get the best results, it must be consistent. To support this idea; each Tuesday for the next 12 weeks, this post will re-visit journaling as a tool for expanding fitness and adventure. Today is week one and I want to share a few tips which I have seen work for others. Consider starting this week and take a 12 week journaling adventure with me. Spend twenty minutes a day on this and you'll be amazed with the creativity and results you will uncover!
It can help to have a theme.
If you are just just starting a fitness program, or thinking about it, a theme could be to evaluate what opportunities exist. This week's theme is 'Knowing Where You Are'.
This theme can build a sense of security and it's good to know what your resources are. Perhaps you can take three months off and not have to work. Or you may realize that you have no-one at home, or work, or in your group of friends - who is going to support you or encourage you. Either way, you'll know where you stand. This is about finding your start-point.
If it's the latter - don't worry, your outcome does not depend on where you are now, just the clarity of where you are going. This week is about understanding where you are and it isn't necessary to know how you will get there. Remember, the goal is to review where you are, no judgement and no decisions.
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” - Lao Tzu.
Some questions to get your pen moving across the page:
- How much personal/exercise time do you have?
- If time is short, what could you do to make some time?
- Where could you exercise?
- Will you do it alone, or with a friend(s)?
- Do you know what results you want?
- In the past, have you succeeded in reaching your goals, or have you failed time and time again?
- Do you have hope for the future?
- Are you willing to try?
- Are you willing to try new things?
- Will your challenge be difficult?
- What will you do to keep going when things get tough?
- Write down at least three reasons why you deserve your dream?
- Think of someone you love and who loves you? How proud would they be, of your willingness to go for what you want?
- How does that make you feel?
- What two things will you do today, which will advance you, in the direction of your goals?
Do those two things today. Do them now!
How long to write for?
- Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg both suggest three pages per day.
- Setting a time limit can be good. "I will write for 15 minutes".
- Pick one question and write about that, until you have exhausted that aspect or topic.
- It's your journaling experience, so do what works for you. If it is consistent, it will reveal ideas as well as boost creativity and clarity. It might be better to aim for less, rather than create an expectation that becomes a chore.
- Not sure where to start? Do one page every day this week. See how it feels.
- Write at the same time: Consistency is king
- Pick a spot to do it. It should be quiet (or sit with headphones). Kitchen, office, coffee shop, in a tent or cabin etc. Some of my best writing has been done sitting in my car, at dawn, overlooking the beach.
- Light a candle, or a fire, or decorate your space: A picture, a map, flowers on the table or an object that brings you awareness.
- Make some tea or coffee before you start.
- Meditate, pray, run or do the Daily Dozen, before you write.
- Decide whether you keep your writing, or discard it afterwards? There are no rules. Do what works for you.
Enjoy this next week of journaling. Dream, break some rules and don't be afraid to fail!
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (Tarcher 2002)
- At a Journal Workshop (Inner Workbook) by Ira Progoff (Tarcher 1992)
- Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within (Janet Conner 2009)
- Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth by Kathleen Adams (Warner Books 1990)
- Journaling From the Heart by Eldonna Edwards Bouton (Whole Heart Publications 2000)
- Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest by Christina Baldwin (Bantam 1990)
- Loose Ends: A Journaling Tool for Tying Up the Incomplete Details of Your Life and Heart by Eldonna Edwards Bouton (Whole Heart Publications 1999)
- The New Diary by Tristine Rainer (Tarcher 1979)
- Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams by Sandy Grayson (2005)
- The Way of the Journal: A Journal Therapy Workbook for Healing by Kathleen Adams (Sidran Press 1998)
- The Writing Cure: How Expressive Writing Promotes Health and Emotional Well-Being, edited by Stephen J. Lepore & J.M. Smyth (APA 2002)