Journaling: The 5 Year Plan

I began journaling when I was 5. I have loved writing and recording the memories of my day for a long time. Writing down the day’s events was a delight to me every night. Between the ages of 5 and 13 I filled over 15 journals with entries, taping tickets to a movie into the page or a letter from a pen pal; I even illustrated some days – they were THAT good. As I got older my entries became less frequent and began to feel like a burden. I couldn’t commit to all the detail I was used to putting into them. With piles of homework, a driver’s license & a later curfew my habit of journaling was forgotten.

I’ve always felt some guilt over that – that I didn’t take the time to write it all down. I love having a gateway into old memories and escaping into those youthful places, some of which I don’t even remember having. It’s fascinating to see a younger you on paper. I have tons of documented proof that I’ve changed, progressed and grown in some way throughout the years. So there!

I made efforts through college to journal in different ways, I filled one journal with quotes, another with my feeble attempts at poetry, another with prayers, and even another with random moments of creative thought. These were valiant attempts but all of them were incomplete and scattered, disappointing ends to frenzied dreams.

I have no documentation of how I felt the night I met my husband, how he took me to see a Shakespeare play on our first date, or how I felt when he surprised me 2 years later with a proposal. While I remember each of those events fairly well, it’s all the spaces in between them that are lost to me. My memories have faded and I dearly wish I had some record of our dating life.

oh well.

2 years ago I stumbled upon a little blue book with gold tipped pages and an orange ribbon. It’s called a “One Line A Day” journal and when I opened up the little cream pages I felt the ability to journal on a daily basis return to me. This little book allows you to record your day in 1-3 sentences and has mapped out space for 5 years of entries. The years are not preset, each page is topped with the 365 days in our calendar with five entries below each date.

It’s ingenious.

I bought the journal in 2009 right after we got married with the determination to record and document the first few years of our marriage and I failed miserably.  I wrote in small intervals in 2010, failed almost completely in 2011 and I’ve made a roaring comeback just this summer.

I’m bonkers about this book. I love the idea of having 5 years of journaling all in one tiny book.

Journaling not only gives me a precious record of sweet events & memories, it makes me set aside time each night to reflect on my day, recall my reactions and feelings throughout the day, and it gives me time to consider how well or how poorly I did. This time of reflection is really precious and valuable.

Fun Fact: there are a couple different formats of this journal that would certainly either be great for you or a friend.

– There is the “Q&A” version that asks you a different question for each day of the year allowing you to compare your answers over 5 years.

– For Jane Austen fans there’s the “Jane-A-Day” journal that gives you different quotes to enjoy each day.

– And finally the “Mom’s One Line a Day” – a sweet gift to any new Mom.

 

These are great gift ideas but I also encourage you to go out and pick one of these up. Look at it as a personal learning & growing experience. Challenge yourself to learn the discipline of a simple journal and reap the rewards of seeing your past entries, the silly & sweet alike. It will be more rewarding than you know.

How many journals have you filled?

What types of journals have you kept?

If you’ve never journaled, what’s kept you from doing it?

 

Molly Keating

About Molly Keating

Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.
This entry was posted in Seasons of Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • I love this idea, Molly! I really like Gretchen Rubin, of The Happiness Project, and she’s got a version that I might buy as a Christmas present to myself! (Heck, why wait?!)
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Happiness-Project-One-Sentence-Journal/dp/0307888576/ref=pd_sim_b_4

    • MollyKeating

      I’ve seen that one too & it’s such a great idea! Thanks for sharing Kim, now go get it!

  • Jeff Turner

    Molly,

    I must admit that I have never journaled, ever. I have on occasion found myself writing about experiences long after the events for one reason or another. Those thoughts and memories turned into narratives are powerful at times to read and remember. What’s missing are exactly what you describe and I think of as the “important minutia” that can be lost. I suppose one of the reasons I do not journal is because of the discipline needed for a systematic interval that would be acceptable and achievable without adding one more thing to fail at. So, fear I guess is in the way.

    In the last few years I have begun writing down dreams. The work of the subconscious to chew on things I may or may not be working on consciously. With guidance, I have found there to be valuable hints and messages that I need or want to tell myself and often things that I maybe in denial about. So, I guess I have journaled dreams. These, like life’s moments, are easily forgotten even though they were so vivid in those secret hours and in the conscious moments just after. There are many, as I review them, I realize would be lost to me without the written record.

    So, I guess in writing this response, I realize that I have been in denial about journaling, sort of. I’ll be honest Molly and admit that I don’t know if I will ever be a “journaler” or not. But I am thankful for the pause this blog has given me to think about the value of the moments of our live’s as they go by.

    Responsively yours,

    Jeff

    • Jeffie,
      I certainly don’t think journaling is for everybody and I hope this post didn’t apply any unnecessary pressure on you to feel that way.

      I love the way YOU have journaled. Journaling dreams is a much tougher practice in that you’ve got to catch them quick & I usually fall back asleep before I can.

      I also like what you said about “one more thing to fail at.” I’ve definitely approached journaling that way – it gets so defeating when you just skip a couple days. One thing I do like about this journal is the years are all fill-in-able (made that up!) and if you miss one day & just really can’t remember it – not to worry, you’ll make up for it somewhere in the next several years!

      But, even if you don’t journal I think just making an effort to consider your day at it’s close is a great step into self-reflection, perspective & personal growth. I think you’re pretty good at that ; )

      Thank you so much for reading & writing back!

      Replyfully yours,
      molly

    • Jeffie,
      I certainly don’t think journaling is for everybody and I hope this post didn’t apply any unnecessary pressure on you to feel that way.

      I love the way YOU have journaled. Journaling dreams is a much tougher practice in that you’ve got to catch them quick & I usually fall back asleep before I can.

      I also like what you said about “one more thing to fail at.” I’ve definitely approached journaling that way – it gets so defeating when you just skip a couple days. One thing I do like about this journal is the years are all fill-in-able (made that up!) and if you miss one day & just really can’t remember it – not to worry, you’ll make up for it somewhere in the next several years!

      But, even if you don’t journal I think just making an effort to consider your day at it’s close is a great step into self-reflection, perspective & personal growth. I think you’re pretty good at that ; )

      Thank you so much for reading & writing back!

      Replyfully yours,
      Molly

    • MollyKeating

      Jeffie,
      I certainly don’t
      think journaling is for everybody and I hope this post didn’t apply any
      unnecessary pressure on you to feel that way.

      I love the way YOU have journaled. Journaling dreams is a much
      tougher practice in that you’ve got to catch them quick & I usually
      fall back asleep before I can.

      I also like what you said about “one more thing to fail at.” I’ve
      definitely approached journaling that way – it gets so defeating when
      you just skip a couple days. One thing I do like about this journal is
      the years are all fill-in-able (made that up!) and if you miss one day
      & just really can’t remember it – not to worry, you’ll make up for
      it somewhere in the next several years!

      But, even if you don’t journal I think just making an effort to
      consider your day at it’s close is a great step into self-reflection,
      perspective & personal growth. I think you’re pretty good at that ; )

      Thank you so much for reading & writing back!

      Replyfully yours,
      Molly

      • Jeff Turner

        Good stuff Molly. Love the self reflection side of it….

        Jeff

  • One of my favorite parts of going to bed is seeing you journal and then reading me what happened 1 or 2 years previously on that day. It is so euphoric to look back and remember our history together, Molly. I wish I had kept a more detailed journal of our adventures and conversations. I’m so thankful for our dating years and like you, the memories I have, though they are just snapshots, will never be forgotten. This post made me want to start using my One Line a Day again. I hope it’s not in storage. 😉

    • MollyKeating

      So sweet! It’s so cool that you are also able to enjoy this simple little task of mine. I’m thrilled that it means so much to you. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on journaling, sweetie!

  • Carrie Bayer

    Molly, this is great! I have kept journals off & on over the years- it’s very interesting to look back thru them. You can see where you were in a particular time in your life & see where you are now- usually a big difference that is hard to see otherwise. Thank you for the reminder of how wonderful keeping a journal can be. Carrie

    • MollyKeating

      Carrie, what you said about those differences being “hard to see otherwise” is so true! I think I assume I was a lot then like I am now and when I look back it’s obvious that I’ve changed significantly & most of the time that is really encouraging. Even if it’s not a good change it’s still so important to look back, reflect on yourself.
      Thanks for sharing your journaling journey!

  • Shayna Mallik

    Molly,
    Great Blog!!! Journaling is so helpful if you take the time to do it and make it part of your routine. I use to journal when I was younger and have stopped. Your blog has made me miss the time of the night I would set aside to journal, and I I love the one line journal, I will definitely be looking into that 🙂 Thank you!!!!

    • MollyKeating

      That’s awesome Shayna! I hope you’re able to re-kindle some of that commitment to journaling. Even if I skip a day I’ll just go back and enter it in, it’s easy to do when you’re space is limited! Thanks for reading & sharing your story

  • Lori

    Molly,

    I love this two or three line journal idea! It is like the journal version of Twitter!
    I have always loved the idea of journaling, however, my follow through has been the biggest problem. It has always seemed like an overwhelming task.
    This “One Line a Day” concept makes journaling much less intimidating to me.
    Thank you for sharing your journaling experiences and for introducing this new concept to me!
    Lori

    • MollyKeating

      Lori, You’re Welcome! I love just having to journal a few lines a day. It’s also been a great practice in learning to condense my thoughts, write concisely, and put only the most valuable or important moments of my day down. It’s been a really fun practice & I hope you are able to find some time to make it happen!

  • neil

    Hi Molly –
    I wish I was a person who journaled, I am always afraid that someone will find my journal and read it and then turn me into the police. I admire you for putting your thoughts and life on paper. I know there is value in releasing your thoughts or struggles onto paper, maybe that is why I am not able to release my past and live in the present at times?

    • Interesting insight Neil. I think there is a lot of power in releasing events to a page. We can let them go, we can forget about them for a while, they are safe somewhere and don’t have to make us crazy. I think there’s a lot of power in that last little question. We should explore it!

  • Molly girl,
    You’re such an inspiration. And it’s a BOOK!! One that I can keep on my nightstand for 5 years! I love it. I think I might run over to Barney’s at lunch today. Like you, my journaling has been hit & miss over the years. I always managed to put pen to paper during trying times in my life. Those words have brought me such joy to see where I was, and how I overcame challenges. I’m so proud of you!!

    kari

    • Thank you so much Kari!! Yes, it is a book and a SUPER cute one at that. I hope you do go get it or one like it and enjoy recording your day. Don’t let them slip by!

  • Amy

    Molly,
    Like you I have been hit or miss with journaling over the years. Until recently when my counselor told me that it is very therapeutic and a good release to write. I have been writing for the past several weeks. I can’t tell you how much better I feel some days after I have journaled. Like the weight of the world is off my back or how wonderful of a day i had looking back. Thanks for the reassurance that it’s a good thing.
    Amy

  • Amy, that is so awesome. Neil was alluding to some of the feelings you’re actually experiencing in his comment – you’re proof that he should journal! I’m so glad it is bringing you relief, healing, and peace. I hope you’ll be able to continue at it, it’s a tough discipline but such a rewarding one.