I have a love hate relationship with January. On the one hand it brings the idea of renewal, fresh beginnings, and opportunities for growth and improvement.
In fact January is named after Janus, the God of beginnings and transitions.
I usually dread January because I already know in December that I’ll set intentions and not see them through. It’s like accepting an invitation to a party that you know you won’t want to attend.
In the moment it sounds okay, but when it comes to doing it not so much.
January is about starting, and starting is almost always hard. Come to think of it, finishing is even harder than starting.
Over the course of my life I have started many things. Knitting, horseback riding, journaling, baking…the list goes on and on. I know and remember all of my false starts because the remnants of those half baked attempts are littered throughout my home and garage.
They serve as little reminders of how hard it is to follow through with the many intentions I have set for myself in the past.
So this year I thought hard about why I get such big ideas and make such grand gestures only to have them peter out by February.
Is it a lack of commitment or a product of my ineffective time management? Or maybe it’s a form of resistance to doing the things that require hard work and dedication? Then I wondered if I was being unrealistic about my goals leaving myself overwhelmed and ultimately paralyzed.
The answer to all of these was both maybe and probably. It wasn’t only possible that I was getting in my own way, it was more than likely.
Then I listened to an interview that my daughter did with her best friend about journaling. This young girl had been consistently writing in her journal every single day for the past five years.
She talked about documentation, and the importance of writing everything that she experienced in her young adult life down each and every day. She writes the date, time and place for every entry she makes about boys she had crushes on, movies she saw, or feelings about her family. It might sound a bit obsessive, but I think it would fall under the umbrella of dedication or commitment even more.
There’s something about keeping track of our lives that gives everything we do a deeper meaning. When you write something down it matters, and you’re more apt to remember that it ever happened.
So instead of setting multiple intentions around being happier, losing weight, exercising more, going vegetarian or volunteering, I decided to take up the wonderful practice of documentary style journaling.
It’s like a massive to do list without the stress and burden of having to check anything off. These kinds of lists make us feel productive even if we never really do any of it. Just having the documented intention of going to the market, the gym, the dry cleaner or the shoe repair makes us feel like we’re being productive.
Creating a narrative of your life happens by piecing together the little moments and nuances that make it yours.
This kind of journaling forces you to stay present, pay attention and notice.
Sound familiar? It’s a form of Mindfulness for sure.
As I grow older my ability to remember weakens, and I find it harder to hold on to memories. My journal will be a record of my life, and a reference for the experiences that organically fade with time.
My journal is a Moleskin (because that’s what my daughter’s friend uses) and it’s already filled with thoughts, feelings, movies I want to see, music I need to download, poetry, doodles, classes I want to take, friends I heard from, and where I dream about going on vacation.
The only intention I have is to keep writing.
If I end up doing some of the stuff I write about that will be great, but I know I will have fulfilled my New Year intention as long as I continue my journaling journey through the next year.
It’s simple, admirable, fun and very fulfilling.
I hope you’ll try it and let me know how you do in the comments section!
Here’s to journaling into the New Year 🙂
Dr. Andra Brosh January 6th, 2015