One of the benefits of keeping a journal is the ability to write and reflect on our personal growth and challenges. For example, these days I’m mostly “goal journaling” about the progress I’m making on my first book, Starting From Day One: Using Digital Journal Writing To Enhance Your Life, and what I’m learning in the process. And believe me, there are plenty of challenges I’m writing about.
But to gain the most out of journaling, it’s important to go back and re-read entries in our journal to remind ourselves of how much we have progressed, or what may be contributing to the challenges we’re facing. As experienced diary and journal keepers know, the miracle of writing is how thoughts, ideas, and sweet revelations emerge as we write. With writing, we can finally be open and honest with ourselves in ways we can’t always be with even our closest friend or love ones. Our writing talks back to us, and there’s no one but ourselves to argue with, or feel embarrassed to admit things to.
If we are diligent journal keepers—constantly writing and reflecting on the challenges we face in life—we get to re-read our journal entries months and years later, and revisit how we made it through troubled waters. We are reminded of who was there by our side and helped us along the way, and how we confronted challenges and moved on, though we thought what we were experiencing would never end.
But how often do we go back and revisit what we wrote in our journal(s)? I realize all journal entries are not written to necessarily be re-read. I wouldn’t enjoy reading the “morning pages” I wrote over five years ago, when I was mostly writing at the time to flush out my brain and to get on with my day. But I also know there are journal entries I should revisit, to either reflect back on my personal achievements and growth, to remember promises I made, and to even to check off goals on my bucket list, which shouldn’t be something written and forgotten like momentary wishful thoughts.
So I thought, since I keep a digital journal (Day One), and entries can be searched by date, I should choose some entries to mark on my calendar and revisit on a regular basis, like every four to twelve months. (Note: If you’re keeping a paper journal, you might want put a sticky note on the pages marked on your calendar to revisit.) Here are five entries I have marked on my calendar so far to revisit.
Bucket List: Writing my book is one of the top items on my list, but to actually accomplish more things on that list I’ve set a reminder to revisit that list every four months to see what else I could work on and plan out.
My Birthday: I don’t of course need to be reminded of my birthday, but I did set a reminder to list what I’ve accomplished since my last birthday. Sometimes we feel as though we’re not making much progress in our life, but when we actually write down what we have achieved, we are reminded that we accomplished more than we thought.
Family Birthdays: I often write in my journal about my immediate family members, but I want to use their birthday each year to write an unsent letter to them about how grateful I am that they are part of my life and how I see them as growing. I wish I had started writing these entries when my children were younger, but it’s never too late to begin.
News Items List: Last year I started adding to my Day One journal a list of current news items that I select (using Yahoo News, Democracy Now, and other sources) as being important to remember. I’ve set a reminder for every four months to make a new list.
Rate Areas of Growth: Last year I created an areas of growth list in which I rate on a scale of 1-10 each important area of my life (e.g., family, health and wellbeing, career and finances, social life, self-exploration). I pasted the list in a calendar alert to revisit and rate the growth areas once a year, and then compare the new ratings to the previous year. There are areas in my life I could always keep improving upon. This growth list is based on a prompt from Rossi Fox’s 365 Journal Writing Ideas.
With so many other immediate tasks and jobs I do in my life, it would be easy to forget to revisit the above journal entries, but the calendar alerts are set to remind me so I don’t have to think about it.
If you think this journal strategy is a good idea, let me and my readers know what type of entries you mark on your calendar to revisit.