Day 17: Can my journal help me figure out what I want for my life?
Your journal is your vessel for your story. You are living your story every single day. (What genre is yours? Mystery? Drama? Humor? Some of each with a little detective work thrown in, like who poured their juice in the cat food?)
Some days your story doesn’t feel that glamorous or beautiful. When we are neck deep in routines that don’t feel like they would rank above a three on a cool meter, we certainly aren’t walking around with a lofty idea of living our story.
Much less writing about our story in our journals in between the moments of living it.
Then again, every journal entry made is a self-study lesson. Just like taking notes in school, only this time you are taking notes on the things that are most important in your life.
While we’re going through our days and living our life we go through cycles of growth and change. There are clues that a new cycle is about to start because there are some common thoughts that come with it.
These cycles can last a long time. It’s not uncommon to feel stuck in your life for years. If you ask the question “when was the last time you truly felt joy?” and really answered it honestly, the answer might surprise you.
It’s possible that you have to dig all the way back to childhood to find pure joy or fun. Frankly, I think that’s a problem.
Your journal is a tool for working out problems. Through the process of journaling you drill down to the guts of who you are (where you are, what you are, what you want) and can start to use what you learn to make change.
The point of most education is to apply what we learn it to real life experiences.
The same is true here. What your journal teaches you about yourself is information you can apply to your real life.
If you figure out in the pages of your journal that you really want to be a bamboo trainer, than you know your next step is to find out how to become one with the bamboo.
If journal writing opens the doors to a list of things you know you don’t want in your life, great! You can scratch off being a cat lady, opening a restaurant, and reading the depth and breadth of classic literature. Wonderful! Keep the list going and soon you’ll get to what you do want.
Occasionally it happens that what we learn about ourselves in our journal is scary. It means making a huge change that we are not ready for in the present moment. For me, it was learning that I was not going to continue with my first marriage.
I wrote that in my journal for the first time in February 2000. It took me a little over three years to actually do it. That was a long cycle, but at the time it didn’t feel like it. It felt like I was getting ready for the change.
There are times in life when a change stares us in the face and is both wildly tempting and wildly horrific.
When an idea first comes up in your journal it might not be the time to act on it. This is the beauty of writing your story. You can write and write, explore your options and consider the many possibilities.
It may not be any less scary when its time to take the teaching job in South Korea or leave the relationship you’ve been in for a decade, and that’s just the truth.
You may even still have doubts and uncertainties. Especially if you are faced with a person you care about reacting to your news in a less than supportive way.
But the weight of a decision that has been made and not acted on will be released as you take your second step to change your life. (What was the first step? Writing in your journal of course!)
Let your pen move across the page with ease and open yourself to the possibility of discovering new things about yourself. We have to allow our journaling process to help us determine what we want for our life. When we do, the answer will always come.
Prompt for today: Turn to a new page in your journal and at the top write “What I want for my life is” and start to make a list. If you want to be a runner, write that down. If eating more chocolate will make you smile, write that down. Time with friends and family? Write it down and take it one step further by writing down how much time. This may take several days or even weeks to fill in. And that’s all, just fill it in.
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. Visit www.saramarchessault.com to get your FREE Journal Protection Plan and start using your journal to create more joy in your life.