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Keep a 5 Year Journal – Daily Prompts with Steps for Getting Started and Prompts for January and February

by Tami Taylor (Click here to see all 12 months.)

What’s a 5 year Journal?

That was my question when I first heard of it.  (Ok, my first question was “five years??” Stick with me, though, it’s relatively painless. I promise.) A five year journal is, just as it sounds, a journal you keep for five years. You write just one line every day, one minute of  your time – that’s all it takes. The fun part is that you record your one daily line in the same spot for five years, so where you chose to write your January 1, 2012 line is the same place you write your January 1, 2016 line.  This means that each year you get to see what you wrote the previous year(s).  That’s what I think the beauty of it is: seeing the comparison of the year’s entries. Here’s an example if I had done it for the past five years:

What is your number one goal this year?

January 1, 2008: Try to make Vegas feel more like ‘home.’ January 1, 2009: Lose weight, “had a baby” isn’t an excuse 2 years later. January 1, 2010: Keep new house cleaner than the last. January 1, 2011:  Be more involved at Zach’s school. January 1, 2012:  Spend more time playing with Keagan.

 

Getting Started

Step 1. Prompts or Self-Directed?

Do you want to write a line about the day as it occurs to you or would you like to have a little direction each day?  If you want to write a line without prompting, skip to the next step. I especially liked the idea of answering a question each day.  I can’t always think of what to write about my day but answering a simple question like “Did you go anywhere?” gives me a jump-start. Remember: choosing to go with questions doesn’t lock you in. I could answer that question of whether I went anywhere with something as short as “Just to work” or I could elaborate and write “No, I was sick with the flu that Austin gave me that Kyle gave him….” You can even disregard the question and just write what you’d like. The question is there to help you if you need a prompt to get writing. Because I liked the idea of using questions, I compiled a list of 365 questions for the year. Remember we’ll use the same 365 questions each year so we only need to worry about getting the questions the first year. Here are the questions for January and February.  Click on the links to open pdfs you can print or save to your computer. I’ll be back the middle of each month to share the next month’s list, my experiences, and a look at how my five year journal is coming along.

365 Questions – January

365 Questions – February

 

Step 2. Your “Journal”

You’ll need a place to actually keep your journaling.  Here are some ideas:
  • a spiral bound notebook
  • a moleskin notebook
  • a ‘junk journal’ or smash book
  • a mini-album
  • an ATC holder
  • keep it with your project life or capture 365
  • another altered project
  • a text document on your computer
  • a blog
I am keeping mine in a 7 gypsies drawer.  I have a card for each day.  I’ll write the questions on the front of the card–and I’ll add artwork–and the five years of answers on the back of it. I like this approach because it gives me 365 spots for doing a little art, helps me use scraps in my stash, and it provides plenty of room for writing.  I even have enough room to add a photo to the front of the card. Plus, the drawer looks pretty cool on my shelf.

 

Step 3. Start Journaling

  • Don’t worry about the fact it’s not the beginning of the year, start today or start tomorrow.  I’ll admit, I didn’t start January 1st.  I didn’t learn about five year journals until the 6th of the month.  I’m not going to let the date stop me, though. I just answered a couple questions a night until I was caught up.  The questions I compiled were chosen to be a little general, and therefore easy to play catch up with if you decide to do so.
  • Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Don’t think of the ‘forest.’ Just focus on the one line a day.  If you miss a day, no one will know.. more importantly no one will care.  Just catch up the next day.
  • Make your journal part of your morning or evening routine.  If you are keeping a notebook, keep it next to your bed.  If you’re using something like I am, just keep a small stack of the coming week’s cards next to your bed with a pen.
I hope you join me on this journey.  If you decide to keep a five year journal, or are already keeping one and would like to be featured in an upcoming month, please contact me.  I’d love to share what everyone is doing.

Tami Taylor writes for Get It Scrapped!, teaches at Masterful Scrapbook Design and runs Creative Passion, the site for online creative classes . If you enjoyed her article here, try her free SmashBook series at Creative Passion Classes. To learn more about Tami check out her blog, The Taylor Life.

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89 Responses to Keep a 5 Year Journal – Daily Prompts with Steps for Getting Started and Prompts for January and February

  1. Sherry Eckblad January 16, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Tami, what a great idea. I just started this year Project Life, and a perpetual calendar that you do on index cards. You stamp each day and then on one line you write the date and something about that date. I think on the back of those cards I will add the questions. Will you be posting these questions for every month? I have a post on my blog of what my calendar looks like.
    http://www.buttonjunkie.blogspot.com

    Thanks for sharing!

    • TamiTaylor January 16, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      Yes! I’ll have a list every month this year. I love your container amazing what some paint will do!

      • Kendra February 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

        I’m only seeing months Jan-March… are we supposed to check back for more months to come? This is pretty exciting! I’ve wanted to journal for some time now and this might just be the motivation to go for it!

        Thanks!

        • TamiTaylor February 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

          Hi Kendra, Yes just check back around the 15th of the month and you’ll find the next month’s questions :) Glad you’re jumping in!

  2. Ami January 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Tami, I love this. I printed them out and will add them as 8.5×11 pages into my Project Life album. It is where almost all of my work resides. I just use a bunch of different sized page protectors. Thank you for the great idea.

    • TamiTaylor January 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Great I was hoping the webinar didn’t scare you off ;)

  3. Melinda T January 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Great idea! I got a real nice journal when I turned 30 and had wanted to start journaling…8 months later, nada! So this couldn’t have come at a better time! Thanks!

    • TamiTaylor January 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

      Sounds like a sign, I hope you share when you get going.

  4. tawyn January 20, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Will give this a try. I’ve started a spreadsheet on my computer – not pretty but more likely to get done & I’ve caught up already ;)

    • TamiTaylor January 20, 2012 at 11:03 am #

      That’s awesome and it’s not about being pretty. I’d love if you sent me a screen shot to be featured in an upcoming month.

  5. Keianna January 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    This is an awesome idea. I want to give it a shot.

    • TamiTaylor January 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

      I hope you share!

  6. Diane January 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    I was in Barnes and Noble today and saw a ready-made 5-year one-line-a-day diary (a nice small size) by Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project. It would be perfect for this project because there was one page for each day of the year with a line for each of the five years; think it cost $16.95. (After reading this article, am sorry I didn’t buy it!)

    • TamiTaylor January 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      I saw that it would be perfect! You could easily keep them on scraps until you make it back to B&N

  7. Catherine January 22, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Hi Tami
    This is a wonderful idea. Have been journalling but sometimes it gets too much. Your idea of a one liner sounds really good and is so doable. Thank you very much
    Catherine

    • TamiTaylor January 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      Thank you. I agree and sometimes a quick line is more powerful than the ‘too much’ – plus I’m finding some of my ‘one liners’ are great journaling for my pages.

  8. CaroleMac January 24, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Tami – Brilliant idea… I seem to be abit of a journal hoarder with great plans and desires for each one (personal journal, art journal, scrapping idea journal etc) with lil to show for my intentions… so that being said, I grabbed the closest one and set out to use it for this ongoing project.
    I will cut out each questions…and probably put 2 on one page with 5-7 lines between them.
    I am already caught up with this months prompts… some I had to pass on and will pop back in a month or so with a picture to show you how its going. it would be fun to see what others are doing… maybe you could add a couple links to blogs or pictures to your monthly or quarterly articles when you post the new questions.
    thanks again for all you do,
    hugs, Carole

    • TamiTaylor January 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      Yay for jumping in! I know what it’s like hoarding journals I have hundreds. And as for sharing what others are doing, that’s exactly the plan. I hope to have many comeback and share their works.

  9. Laura B. January 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Tami — this is a terrific idea. I’ve done it by email with the website OhLife.com for about two years now. It’s amazing to see the old entries, what we were doing and what I was thinking at the time. The little 7 Gypsies drawer would be much more attractive though!!!

    • TamiTaylor January 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      thanks for sharing that’s a pretty cool site!

    • Diane January 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      I do Oh Life, too, and it is really fun when they send you your old entries to see what you wrote in the past. When I write emails to my girlfriend and family every few days, I just copy and paste the stories I told them into the Oh Life reply and send it in. Quick and easy!

      • TamiTaylor January 31, 2012 at 10:52 am #

        Ok you two – I joined.. very addictive!! thanks for sharing it.

  10. Whitney January 29, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    I love your journal idea! I liked the library drawer idea so much that I bought one for myself. I am so excited to get started.

    Thanks for tne great idea!

    • TamiTaylor January 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      Awesome! hope you share pictures when you get the chance.

      • Whitney January 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

        Will do when I get a little more caught up. I started late, but have most questions answered. Stuck on starting the cards. Am probably putting to much thought in it. I just need to let go and jump in.

  11. Deb January 31, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    Just love this idea! I’m using 4X6 filing cards one for each day. I printed out the questions and glued the questions to the back of each card so my answers will be underneath. Then I am using whatever supplies/scraps/ephemera/pencils I have on my desk on the day to decorate the blank reverse side. Some cards are scrapped/decorated and completed on the same day, others are left incomplete or blank so that they can be added to a bit by bit each year. I also have monthly divider cards which will record the highlight of each month on the back. Best of all I like that there is no pressure to complete the decoration on the cards..just do as much as you want, when you want. This is such a doable project.. and one month down I’m already doing a little happy dance. Off to print out questions for February. Thanks so much for this great project! xxox

    • TamiTaylor January 31, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      That’s great Deb. And by leaving some cards blank or leaving room you have space to add other things in later years.. ticket stubs, receipts, etc. It’s like a smashbook :)

  12. Marge January 31, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    What a great idea! Although it’s the end of January, I’ll catch up. I just retired, and this sounds like a really fun idea. Thanks!

    • TamiTaylor February 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Congratulations Marge! What a great way to document your new start :)

  13. linda February 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Where can I find the other 10 months of questions? Love this idea, but since it is February, don’t want to start and then get stuck mid March!…thanks

    • TamiTaylor February 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

      Hi Linda, the questions are posted yet. Check back around the 15th of the month and you’ll get the questions for the next month. So Feb 15th I’ll post the questions for march. Or join the mailing list and Debbie will send out period emails letting you know the posts that went up. :)

  14. Saxe February 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    It’s Feb 3rd and I’m starting!!
    Loads of projects ahead for us, will be an interesting journal to keep as we’ll get out of school (hubby), get pregnant, buy a house, move to another city, rebuild the family’s cottage, etc.

    yay!

    I’m starting by small alterations on my journal right on and then answering all the question to get up to date!

    This will be fun, thanks for the ideas:)

    • TamiTaylor February 4, 2012 at 2:11 am #

      Wow, LOTS going on in your world.. you’ll have great cards over the years to look back on how crazy this year was ;)

  15. Norah swan February 5, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I was given a beautiful notebook by my LSAs for Christmas and didn’t know what to do with it as it is too lovely for everyday use. Then I came across this idea and the notebook is just perfect for it. Looking forwards to the questions each month.

  16. Cheryl Rice February 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I would love to get the questions for each month. How can I go about doing that? Sounds very interesting.

  17. Alicia February 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    What a neat idea!!

    I found you through Pinterest and boy am I glad I did. I always attempt to keep a 365 blog but it always fails because I can’t come up with enough prompts and I’m not good at keeping my camera on me. For this to be spelled out prior to beginning, I think I might actually follow you through this process.

    Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone!!

  18. Kathy Jo Camacaho February 25, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    This is a great idea. I do love to journal but I’m always looking for new ways to do it. This is going to be great! Thanks for the idea… now off to find one of my many journals, a set of stamps, and get going.

  19. Kelly Poole May 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I was wondering where the May list was? I am behind so didnt notice till now….

    • TamiTaylor May 16, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      The May list wasn’t titled very clearly but I’ve fixed it. When you click “Series > 5 Yr Album” on the navigation bar, you’ll see all the posted articles with a clear title on which month the prompts are for.

      Tami

  20. Shannon June 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Hi Tami! I love this idea. I have been trying to get into journaling for ever and always seem to stop and start and then buy new ones and start all over again. I tend to hit a road block when I see a blank page and I never know where to begin! Having the daily prompts is awesome! Most times they lead to more journaling for me and I love that! Thank you for the awesome idea and inspiration.

  21. Kristi August 2, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Dear Tami. I just found out about this and am very exited to start. Where could i find the other months (March – August and the rest). I think it would be easier with the questions :) Thank You in advance. Kristi

    • Kristi August 2, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Sorry, found it :) ps. Will You be posting the other questions for the months later by year?

  22. Patty August 26, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Love this idea. Started today and did yesterday too. ;).

    • Debbie Hodge August 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

      I love how people are finding this at any point in the year and can get started. Thanks, Tami!

  23. Rhonnie Rosenthaler October 23, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Would love the entire 12 months of questions for journaling.
    Wonderful idea…am ready to start. Can’t find Nov or Dec.

    • Patty October 23, 2012 at 5:27 am #

      She hasn’t put out nov or dec yet. She posts them up as the year goes along.

  24. Sheila November 6, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    How do I get July thru December questions?

  25. Megan Zen-Lee December 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I just came across this post today while looking for questions for my own 365 question box that i am making for a friend. I am going to use some of your questions to help fill in where I am drawing a blank.

    I also want to do this for myself but tend to be a bit forgetful so we will see how well i do. IT will be a part of my night routine.

  26. Hannah December 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I love this idea! I can’t wait to start this at the beginning of January. I have a question though; I only see the months January and February, are the other months on another page?

  27. Hannah December 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Never mid, I found them! :)

    • Kait December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      where?!

  28. Kait December 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    where can I find more pages/months? I see Jan & Feb :(

  29. s murray December 13, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    So here’s a question: I have a 5-year Shopsin journal (loving it). It has 5 years worth of single-date entries per page. But, I’m confused about something:
    I began the journal in July, so the first 6 months of the first “row” of dates are blank. When I come to January 2013, should I put my entry in the FIRST row, which is blank through June, and then jump down to the second row when I get to July? Or should I begin January on the second row, so I can keep 2013 on its own row for the whole year? What do you do in this case?

    Thanks!

  30. Nina December 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Do you know where I can find the rest of the questions? I can’t find the questions for May.

    /Nina

  31. Michelle January 5, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    I just started this journal this year (2013). I saw it last year, around the middle of the year, and decided that I needed to start at the “beginning” so I waited. I love this project, and have posted a blog post about how I am doing it. Please stop by and let me know what you think! Thanks again for sharing!!!

  32. clnason January 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Hi…will you have ideas for the rest of the months as well? I want to do this but DEFINITELY need your inspiration for this. Not much good unless I have ideas/pictures. I ABSOLUTLEY LOVE this idea. Thank you. I have a spiral hard cover note book that I did not know what to do with and now I know. :)

  33. clnason January 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Sorry….just found the rest of the months, excited about doing this…thanks so much for sharing and the great ideas. I love your website….:O)

  34. Tiffany SeChrist February 18, 2013 at 5:23 am #

    I ran across this today and must say I was thrilled. I have wanted to start a journal like this for sometime and your post gave me the inspiration I needed to get started. I also shared this on my blog as I’m going to try using that forum to get those that straggle onto it to get involved. I did make sure to post a link back to your blog. So thanks for the inspiration!!

  35. Elise March 19, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Great idea, great questions, thank you!

  36. Dana April 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Hi there! I just ran into this via pinterest and I’m going to do it starting May 1! I think i’m going to do mine in a big sketch book, i’m going to print/paste the questions onto the page of a left page and answer them on the right page. I’ll date each entry and probably make a litle doodle to go with each one. I’m excited!! Thank you for the questions, you couldn’t have made it any easier!!! Best of everything to you and everyone!!

  37. Nancy May 11, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    I’ve been trying to journal for years and years. I found the SquareDiary app for my phone where you write about your day, but I was thrilled to fine the 5-year Diary and your questions. I’m keeping them both as a nice and complete system. Both are quick formats which suit me perfectly. I have set up a 5-year Diary on Evernote. Started just yesterday! I’m even thinking of creating 3×5 Card 5-year Diaries as gifts for my sisters. They will LOVE this too! BTW, my father, now deceased, kept this type of diary for decades…. He just kept track of weather and a small blurb about what we kids were up to. After his death, it was fascinating to find this, multi-volume diary. None of us knew he was keeping it.

  38. Keira July 1, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Hello,

    I love your question sheets for january and febuary… do you have other print outs for the other months?

    Keira

  39. Kelly October 15, 2013 at 3:01 am #

    I would like to start the journalling now…do you have an Oct, now and Dec set up???

  40. Jenny November 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I want to do this for my kids. I plan to start Dec 1 and do the full year. I want to take pictures and do the journaling (from your list). Then next Dec 1 I can have a book made up for them for Christmas. Thank you for doing these lists.

  41. campagne adwords December 30, 2013 at 5:04 am #

    I’m really loving the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues?

    A handful of my blog visitors have complained about my website not working correctly
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  42. Corinne January 18, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Just found this post after hearing about the concept of a 5 years journal. Thanks very much for sharing a list of questions! I just got started and hope I will keep at it. :-)

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