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.
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.
Step 2. Your “Journal”
- 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
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.