Thursday, December 20, 2018

Guest Post: Build a Journaling Habit

How to Build a Powerful Journal Writing Habit
By Karen Brown Tyson

It’s tough.

Year after year, you try to start journal writing. You understand the benefits of writing about your innermost thoughts.  And you hear so many people talk about how journal writing relieves stress.

But every time you start down the journal-writing path, something gets in the way.  Before you know it, you are no longer writing.

How are you supposed to stay focused? How are you supposed to fit journal writing into an already busy schedule?  One minute, you think you know the answer, and the next, you’re overwhelmed again. It’s a vicious cycle!

I have news for you:

You are not alone. So many people tell me how they want to include journal writing into their day but can’t seem to keep it going past a few weeks. Below are five easy steps you can take to build a journal writing habit. 

Take small steps
In his book titled, One Small Step Can Change Your Life the Kaizen Way, Dr. Robert Maurer believes if we take small steps to correct a problem, we can change our behavior. A small step toward journal writing could mean writing one sentence per day. The next small step could mean writing two sentences per day after are successful at writing one sentence. The important thing is not to make your small step too challenging to achieve in the beginning. The key is establishing the behavior first.

Create a trigger
To build a journal writing habit, you will need a cue that reminds you to write repeatedly. The trick is to follow a course of action that leads you into a daily journal writing habit. Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology, determined that people who write their intended habits are more successful at reaching their goal. He recommends writing your goals as, “if-then” statements where “if” represents the cue and “then” is your planned action. Therefore, journal writing every morning looks like this:  “If I make coffee every morning, then I will write in my journal.”

Make procrastination hard
Next, confront the unwanted behaviors preventing you from sticking with your journal writing. Make a list of everything that prevents you from writing in your journal. Select one thing you will change. For example, if checking social media first thing in the morning prevents you from journal writing, put your smartphone in another room before you go to bed. 

Design your environment
If you change your setting to deal with unwanted behaviors, you must also create an environment that makes your new habit easier to do. For example, if you want to write every morning, put your journal next to your bed the night before. 

Create a reward
As you make progress, it’s important to reward yourself. Psychologists believe positive reinforcement helps automate our habits. In doing do so, our brain will make the connection between the accomplishment of the habit and a feeling of happiness. Find a reward you can give yourself immediately after completing your new habit. 

Now, imagine starting your new journal writing habit.  Instead of wondering how long you can keep it going this time, you actual look forward to writing every day.
And since you adopted a few simple steps, you established a solid writing habit. 
You should be proud of yourself and your new journal writing habit.

Karen Brown Tyson used journal writing to complete her book, Time to Refresh:  A 21-Day Devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Laid Off, Fired or Sidelined.  
Karen works online, in person and by phone as a communication and writing coach. Karen helps her entrepreneurial clientele focus on business and nonfiction writing.

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