Tell me to what you pay attention, and I will tell you who you are. –Jose Ortega y Gassett
Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. — Proverbs 3:6 NLT
I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. –Psalm 40:8 NLT
Your journal can reveal what you are paying attention to, tell you who you are, be a quiet spot where you record the desires and directions of your heart, and can give you a way to stay focused on your passions and God’s will for your life.
Last Bits and Pieces on the Art of and Keeping a Journal
- Using the Circa Journal system from Levenger’s (or the Arc System from Staples) can add some depth to your journal. By adding a blank page behind the plastic cover it can serve as a mini Dream Board. Decorate it with pictures, words, sayings, cut outs from magazines, drawings, or colors or symbols that represents something in regards to an intention or goal for the year. Goals are things you want to
accomplish like a specific yoga pose, redoing a bathroom, remembering to send birthday cards, learning a new skill, taking a certain class, understanding how to be more compassionate, or reading through the bible. Intentions are ways of being that you want to be more mindful of for the year….like being silly, looking for joy, being more grateful, or bringing more peace and relaxation into your life. Please don’t think you have to be artistic to decorate your cover. The ideas is to have a visual reminder of what will make your year meaningful and growth producing to you.
- On the flip side of the decorated page, write your “word for the year,” sayings, quotes or scriptures that support your your goals and intentions for the year, and write your TOP 5 IDEAL list. Having them in the front of your journal, allows you the opportunity to take a quick scan of these when you sit down to write. It’s like a Table of Contents for your life. It’s your guide. You may not look at these every time you journal, however, the act of having written them down does something for you in a subconscious way leading to a more purposeful year.
- What is the “WORD OF THE YEAR”? This is something I learned many years ago in regards to setting yearly goals as a business owner. The idea is to choose one word that will guide actions and priorities for business activities that year. This same concept can be applied to your life–choose one word to guide your goals, actions and priorities for your life this year. Having a simple word for the year, gives you direction for your decisions. Again, this can make life have more purpose and meaning. Some examples of words for the year: simplicity, peace, joy, love, connection, fun, etc. Maybe you have goals for many areas of your life. Pick a word that would guide you in all of them. For example, let’s say you wanted to lose some weight, have more time for your family, de-clutter your house, be more organized, and get rid of some bad habits. You might choose SPARKLE as your word of the year—have a sparkling body, eat sparkling food, make your schedule sparkle with less activities and more family time, have a sparkling house, sparkle out a drawer, closet or desk, add some sparkling new habits. The word SPARKLE would remind you and help you make choices that lead you to your desired goals.
- EXTRA TIP: I even hang my word of the year on a little chalkboard in my kitchen so I can see it everyday and be reminded.
- What are the TOP 5 IDEALS? If you have been following along with these journaling blogs, in the Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness section, I’ve asked you to make a list to this fill-in-the-blank journaling exercise: When my life is ideal I will be/have/or be doing _____________. Then I asked you to come up with your top 5 ideals and write a juicy paragraph describing what each of those mean. On the inside cover of your journal, I would now have you write just the list of your top 5 ideals because these are your passions. This exercise comes from The Passion Test by Janet Brey Attwood and Chris Attwood. What you have done is tapped into your heart and spirit and found what passions God is laying on your heart. Passions are the breadcrumbs to your destiny and purpose. These top 5 ideals, like your word for the year but longer reaching, will help you know where to put your attention and energy. They will help you know what to do when you have to make a choice, decision, or are faced with an opportunity. You may be offered a great opportunity, but does it take you closer to your IDEAL, to your passion, to what your heart longs for, to the plan that God has for you? I know my IDEAL list has helped me in making large decisions, like a career step, to small ones, like what kind of blankets to purchase for my bed!! Odd, interesting and true!! Keep your juicy paragraphs somewhere you can find them as you will want to read them now and then and see how they are unfolding. Life does change and we go through various stages, retaking the passion test every year or two is a good idea. I did this exercise for the first time 7 years ago. Some of my ideals have been realized and replaced by others, others have been tweaked because I’ve grown, and some are still in process. The thing is they are there to guide you. After listing your top 5 ideals on the inside cover, underneath them write, “this or something more”. Let God surprise and delight you with what He can do with your passions when you finally jot them down, describe them, accept them, and use them to help you move closer to what He wants for you.
- You commit to sit and write, you have pages and pages of journaling, how do you make the most of the time spent and the words you’ve journaled? Dr. David Jeremiah, a preacher and avid journaler, talked about harvesting journals during one of his radio programs. He highly recommended going back and reviewing your journals on a regular basis. How often you do this depends on how much you write. If it takes more than one notebook a year for your journaling, you might want to harvest every quarter.
- You will gain insights about your self.
- Looking back over your journal gives you a truer perspective. It is like seeing the LANDSCAPE of things instead of just the trees and brush. You will see a higher and longer perspective of what happened in your life during that time.
- You will see how things are or aren’t working in your life, how God is working, and how He may have answered prayers.
- You can see where you keep writing or praying for the same things which can give you insight into where you might need to take action or take steps of faith and trust.
Things you can ask yourself as you harvest:
- What has gone on?
- What have I learned about myself and/or God?
- What are the themes?
- What did or is God showing me through this time?
- What am I avoiding, if anything? What is causing this avoidance? And when is the time I will deal with this?
- Am I following my intentions, word of the year, or passions? Do I need to tweak these or renew my focus?
EXTRA TIP: I have found it easier to harvest my journal by using annotated ruled pages. They provide space to the side of my journaling to write a note, an insight, an “aha”, or a point I want to remember.
Encouraging Your Whole Heart
- Some inspiration from testimonies from a WHOOP participant and a friend who is an avid journaler:
- I had recently been thinking about the WHOOP classes and how helpful they were. They encouraged me to be deliberate about WHOOP-ing. The journaling in particular made a big difference in my life. It was like it made sense of the daily events of life. All of a sudden I could see the narrative that was happening to me and around me. Every single time I journaled about anything, it had an answer, a result, or a conclusion. No matter how monumental or how trivial my thoughts were, God moved when I put it down in that journal. I suspect He is always doing that, but the deliberate act of journaling made it plain to me.–Anne (How many of us miss God’s signs, help, and answers to us? Love it that journaling did this for her!)
- I was thinking about what you said in your blog that journaling song lyrics or other things that capture our attention will speak to what we like or desire to be reflected. I am so drawn to the line from a praise song that says, “you calm the raging seas”. My reading today was about Jesus and the storm on the Sea of Galilee. I was able to connect the song lyric attraction, the bible reading, and more–I was reminded that as a child I often thought what I wanted more than anything was peace– peace of mind. “Calm my raging seas” is an accurate description of that desire. I was nervous and anxiety ridden as a child, always feeling like my world was out of control. I see the connection now with my need to control my circumstances, always wanting to maintain order and “peace”. –Nancy (God is putting puzzle pieces together for her! I wonder what that insight will do for her now and what God has for her next.)
- I’d love to hear what you do to make journaling more meaningful for you. Do you harvest? What do you do with that? How do you use a journal to keep your heart in God’s will and focused on what He wants for your life?