HipstamaticPhoto-567972561.655930I received my first journal from my mom, back in 1997, when I was about to head off for Bible college.  I wrote a couple of days in it then skipped a few, then I started skipping weeks, months, and years.  That journal is still about half full and still unfinished.  

Back in 2014 the Art of Manliness published a guided journal called, Jumpstart Journaling.  It was a good way for me to get back into it.  And what I discovered is that I needed some sort of structure to follow.  I just assumed that journaling was the same as a diary.  

In a diary, you just write about what happened that day, but a journal can take many forms.  In this case, AoM had specific tasks for each day, such as; Make a list of things that distract you and how to manage them, and identify yourself in the Hero’s Journey (for that one you have to read a short primer on the Hero’s Journey), there are reflections on your career, marriage/family/relationships, and many others things.  

The first year I completed their 31 days of guided journaling… just barely. I think I missed the last 2 days—which I may have gone back later to finish.  The next year I decided to give it another try and I completed the whole 31 days. I felt I wanted to continue with it so I made my own sort of guided journaling based upon the book of Proverbs in the Bible. That lasted about 3 weeks.

Then I quit until the next year. This time the Art of Manliness started selling a print edition, which had blank journaling pages in it. I completed the 31 days, and then proceeded to do some scripture journaling for about 5 months following. But by the time summer rolled around I had run out of steam.  

The next year, I did the 31 days again. And since that time I’ve been pretty steady—going on about 3-4 years.  I’ve used several devotional books, but mostly I just read scripture and then write a page of personal commentary and application.  Without some sort of guide or plan it just falls apart and becomes meaningless, another rote routine devoid of life and spirit.  

This practice has really helped me work out some problems in my life in a healthy way. As I reflect, I get a vent a little, and having a scripture based structure gives me a target to shoot for.  Scripture has a way of correcting your path if you let it—when you focus on correcting yourself and not others.  (Sure, you can read it focusing on why others aren’t acting right and causing you pain, but to do so is counter-productive and actually hurts you in the long run—because you don’t change—but thats another story for another day)

Journaling had led me into some other disciplines. And like most of you, for me discipline does not come easy. We usually try too much too fast, we do something all the way for a short period of time then get burned out. But by taking baby steps, ones that you can maintain over a period of time is the key to developing any sort of discipline, talent, or skill.

I’m about to go through my yearly 31 Day Jumpstart Journaling again. I’d like to invite you to come along with me. It’s where I started, and where I’ll return to each year that I can. It takes 5-10 min a day, preferably in the morning when your mind is fresh—but I usually do it in the evening because I stay up too late to wake up early (something I’m currently working on). Or sometimes I’ll do it at lunch during work.  If you look for time you can find it. 

So if you’d like to join me send me a message or just do it. You can purchase the 31 day journal or do the free 21 day one at The Art of Manliness blog.

I’ll be starting on January 1st!

PS: Although I prefer the print version of AoM Jumpstart Journaling but the hyperlinks embedded in the online version are helpful as well.  So either works fine.  But I have one extra of the printed journal for anyone who needs it.