The real power of journaling

I wrote about journaling a while ago. At the time, I did it because I wanted to go back to writing and share something. It was a way of unblocking myself. Back then, I did not know where journaling would take me. I think I did not even know if I wanted to keep doing it.

It turned out I’ve kept doing it daily for more than a year now. I’m enjoying aspects of it I did not even think about when I started. But let’s proceed with order. The first time I wrote about journaling I used a handmade solution with vim and some scripting. It worked fine, I wanted to try journaling out and I did not feel it was right to commit to any application, neither felt I an actual need to do it. But then I was preparing myself for a long holiday and I decided it was time to try something new. I bought day one and never looked back. I loved the app from the first day and I’ve been using it since then.

Day One has a feature I did not understand when I started using the app. The feature is simple and maybe even obvious: the app reminds you to have a look at what you wrote exactly one year ago on the same day. When the app started notifying me I could now check the feature, I actually did not do it. I did not think it was such a big deal. At some point this summer thought, I Decided to give it a try and it was a revealing experience.

Since university years I’ve always had problems with keeping my weight down to an acceptable level of self-comfort. Things got much worse in August 2010: I quit smoking after 14 years of addiction to cigarettes. I got completely out of shape and started looking into diets, I tried different sports too. After a long search, I settled for a combination of calories counting and swimming. If I manage to do both at the same time, the effect on my body is great. Many times I got close to a body I’m comfortable in. However, I never got to a point I was constantly tracking calories or going to the swimming pool. I had a problem - failing to create a habit for those two vital activities in my life. I was never able to practice them both on a constant basis. Keeping this in mind, this year I got back to swimming after my summer holidays. I started recording the experience of swimming outdoors (fantastic opportunity you get every summer in Berlin) and read what I was doing exactly one year ago. A few days in this process and I started noticing something interesting. Actually, I remember thinking “oh, that’s funny. I’m writing about the same things I was writing about one year ago. Such a weird coincidence!”.

Of course, this was no coincidence. I tried solving this problem many times over the last years. I have accumulated lots of data in my head and I never thought I would have the chance to retrospect over the data. Now, I can already see the improvements. Because I read what I wrote one year ago. I can figure out when I stopped swimming or how I felt about some particular aspect of my life. This is powerful. Years go by like days when you become an adult but they are still 365 days long each. It is a long time for my mind, I was never able to figure out patterns with my own behaviour. Now I can and I can correct what I do not like about it. I can at least try.

I feel I will never give up on journaling anymore. Reading my past self is so much more interesting than I’ve ever thought it would be. I hope this short piece of writing encourages you to try journaling yourself!