Two things I constantly fail at are keeping a journal and coffee.
I don’t like coffee. I simply dislike the taste. Oh, I’ll drink a cappa-frappa-pumpkin whatever with whipped cream and more calories than a bacon cheeseburger, but that’s not coffee. That’s a dessert masquerading as coffee. It’s the hot water filtered through ground beans that I just don’t like.
As someone who’s coffee-averse, I often feel like I’m missing out on a major social activity. People enjoy spending time together over a cup of coffee. Every few years I’ll try it again, hoping my tastes have changed, and every year the results are the same: I can’t finish one cup.
I have the same relationship with journaling.
I’ve read many articles and had several conversations with people, colleagues and those who’ve built careers around productivity and personal organization. They all say the same thing: It’s hugely beneficial to keep a journal. They’re not wrong, either.
A Huffington Post article earlier this year outlined 10 benefits of keeping a journal, including:
- Promotes progress toward goals
- Boosts memory and comprehension
- Strengthens one’s self-discipline
Academics agree, too. The University of Rochester Mental Health Center published an article on the practice of journaling and mental health, citing additional benefits. And writing down what you eat in your journal can even help you lose weight (if that’s something you want to do).
I believe in the benefits, yet there’s a disconnect. Each time I try to maintain a journal in earnest, I fizzle out.
Thinking the issue might be the tools, I’ve purchased very nice paper journals and top-rated software. I even got a special pen and designated a time of day for sitting down to record a journal entry. Despite these best efforts, a few things happened.
- I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to say. “Drove the kids to ballet and soccer practice” is boring and, as far as I’m concerned, hardly worth putting in writing.
- I felt self-conscious, like a teenager keeping a diary.
- I decided to skip it because of either reason number one or two. Then I skipped another day, and another and soon enough I’m failing at journaling.
In many ways, a to-do list and calendar can be similar to a journal. They certainly record what I’m doing and my commitment levels. But it’s not the same. In fact, keeping a journal feels like one more thing cluttering up my to-do list.
Like so many things in life, keeping a journal requires motivation. So, if you maintain a journal, what keeps you motivated? Have any of you struggled to do the same, perhaps for similar reasons? Last, is it simply that journaling is not for me, and I should move on?
Perhaps we can discuss it over coffee.