Journaling & Habits


Last week I talked about journaling and broke it down to the very basics. My hope is that if you read that post, you’ve picked up a journal and maybe even written your first entry. Maybe you used the prompt and wrote like the wind. A girl can dream, right?

Today, I want to talk about habits. Now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the “it takes 21 days to start a new habit,” bit. I’ve heard it for years. I don’t even know who originally started it but today, for the purpose of this blog post I decided to research it. Today, I learned some things. The 21 days to build a new habit was said by a plastic surgeon who noticed that his patients would take 21 days before getting used to their new nose or they would experience phantom limb for 21 days after amputation. He also realized he took to new habits after about 21 days and then wrote a book where he quoted the 21 days thing and boom, everybody now thinks 21 days is the magical answer to habit forming.

Well, University College London did a study with 96 participants studying how long it took for these guys to start forming new habits. If you’re interested, the article I read is here, but on average it takes 66 days for a new habit to form. That is twice as long as the original 21 days business. If I’m being honest, it isn’t easy trying to stick to something for 21 days. I’m currently doing a 30-day yoga challenge, and I already want to skip a day. (I’m on day 13.) Building habits are not easy. Anything in life that is good and worth having is not easy. The phrase “it’s too good to be true” is a saying we’ve all heard a thousand times for a reason. We all know things will take hard work, it’s just getting ourselves to put in the hard work.

I remember when I was first starting journaling, I had to do it as part of homework assignments. I would sit down with my journal begrudgingly and write superficially. Why did it matter what I wrote? Nobody was reading it anyway. One day I had a rough day and I started spilling my emotions onto my paper, letting my paper fill with all my hurts of the day. I allowed my paper to hold the weight of my day instead of my brain. When I was done writing, I felt better. I felt lighter. The weight of the world wasn’t pressing on my shoulders anymore because I moved them to the pages of my journal. My journal became my safe place to dump the scary things of the world, the things I internalize, the fears, the negativity, the sadness, and the good stuff. I have a place to put it all. While it is nice to leave all the crap in my journal and be able to walk away from it, I firmly believe my journal is a place of joy. I don’t ever want to go through one of my old journals and only find bad stuff, so I always make sure to add the good. I write about it all, the good, the bad, and the in between. Life isn’t perfect and I want my journal to reflect that.

Going back to habits, while journaling is something I would say is a habit for me, I journal more days a week than I don’t, it still isn’t an everyday habit. Habits are hard, even when things come naturally to us, I feel like we still forget them. I’ve been wearing glasses for 3 years now and there are still days I forget them. As humans, we are not perfect and there is always room for improvement.

Maybe you’re new to journaling and want to start doing this thing for real or maybe you’ve been journaling for a while and want to dig deeper, or maybe, you used to journal and stopped for whatever reason, and maybe now you want to start again but don’t know how. Well, my friend, let’s start together.

Let’s take the next five days and commit to journaling. It’s only five days and apparently, it takes 61 more than that to develop a new habit, but I like to start small. Just grab a notebook if you don’t already have a journal and write. For the next five days, I’ll post a journaling prompt on my Instagram for inspiration if you get stuck. Don’t worry, I’ll be writing along with you.

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