Kat asked in a comment Wednesday about the prompts I am using for my nightly journal. I’m not sure how interesting this will be for everyone, but she asked and it is easier to answer this in a post than in the comments.
Journals can come in many forms and with just as many purposes. For me, I want to use it as a way to focus my life a little better and grow a happier head space. Life is hard and always will be. Not every dream I have dreamed has come true and some have died very painfully. Some days are mundane and boring. In years past, I have been able to go through life with a, while admittedly not go with the flow personality, at least an attitude of “bring it, lets see where this next road leads, life is a journey until the very end” mentality. Not in 2018 though and I want the mental space I was in for most of 2018 to die a hard, cold death.
With all of that in mind, I set out last weekend to figure out what was missing in 2018 and how to bring it all back in a healthy, low pressure way. When I bought a small notebook to write in I sat down and thought about the best use of it. What was my purpose in maintaining a journal? Was it to track habits? Write down dreams? Write about the details of my day? Have a safe space to complain?
I already have a bullet journal that I use to track to do items, Wyatt’s schedule and certain habits. This lives at work since my home life has very little to do items and I spend more time at work than at home. I didn’t really need another version of this at home.
Writing details of my day went right out the window too. I mean, there are only so many times I can write “got up, went to work, worked, came home, went to bed” before it becomes a lesson in insanity. Plus, the entire reason to do this is to clear my head space and focus on the positives more, so complaining, no matter how poetically done, would defeat it before it began.
Ok, so what was left? I took to my phone searching for journal apps, of which there are dozens. I downloaded a few to try and quickly deleted them all. While I loved the feature of inserting a picture from the day, that function cost money and I had zero interest in paying for it. Plus, I missed putting the pen to paper in the very literal sense. What I did find though was an app that laid out the journal in grids. I hated every question they asked (very existential BS type questions), but I liked the idea of paring my day down into discrete prompts that let me focus on what I thought was important. The bonus was that it would allow me to journal quickly and efficiently, two things I need right now to make anything function in my life.
With all that back story, if anyone is still reading, kuddos to you. The prompts I came up with focus on celebrating the small wins each day. They may make little sense to others but here they are to finally get to the answer to Kat’s question (which she is probably regretting asking by now):
- Three things that made me happy today. Setting the tone right away to focus on the positive has been really helpful so far.
- What problem came up and how did I solve it? This has proven to be my favorite prompt so far. It is so easy in life to feel inadequate and impostor syndrome has plagued me since I left residency. Thinking over my day and finding a problem that I solved, no matter how small, really boosts my self pride.
- What was my favorite part of the day? No matter how bad or mundane a day was there is always a bright spot. Be that a really good sandwich at lunch or a major victory won. Again, all about finding the good in every day to create a more positive attitude.
- Three accomplishments from the day. Small things, big to do items knocked off, heck just managing to get through the day at all. This one is all about feeling good about a day well lived.
- Did I complete yesterday’s three tasks? This may make more sense later in the list, but did I complete each of the three items I wanted to.
- Family time. This prompt reminds me to focus on what really matters to me- my family. Did I call my mom? Eat lunch with Dusty? Snuggle on the couch for movie night? Work invades my life way too much. Time to shift the focus back to what is important.
- Did Wyatt do anything new today, say anything funny? When you are 6 everything is a new experience and one of the best parts of being a mom is watching him grow and learn. It is surprisingly easy to forget the small stuff that happens every day in his life. This prompt gives me a space to write those memories down.
- How were the animals today? I’m not sure I’m going to continue with this one. The point is to write about H’Appy in a way that isn’t achievement based. I track my rides and care in my bullet journal but want to write about my overall interactions with him. I need to work a bit in the wording of this one as I go along.
- Overall feeling about the day. How did I feel the day went? How was my mood?
- Three things to do tomorrow. This will make #5 make more sense. Since my bullet journal lives at work and I’m probably the most forgetful person on the planet, I want to write down a quick list of things I really want to get done.
- Bonus: Summarize the day. I quick little jot down of my feelings of the day, what I thought went really well and what made me excited.
As you can see, all these prompts are to help improve my head space and I don’t leave room for negativity. I’m not trying to white wash my life in happy lies here. Trust me, my brain is very, very good at remembering the crap parts of the day and giving me hell over my mistakes. These 10-15 minutes are made to help me retrain myself to think positively at the end of the day.
The prompts may change over time as I hone them down to what works for me. Ideally I’d love to leave room at the bottom to glue in a picture from the day, but that requires printing of pictures. I’m terrible at doing that so I don’t know if it will ever get done or not.