One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” ― Jack Kerouac
How Did It Start
Since hitting the road 3.5 years ago, I’ve written and sent home about 20 journals from 4 different continents.
I still have a vivid memory of the first time I put pen to paper. I’d just started a new job as a grain labourer in Outback Australia, and was unpacking my backpack when I stumbled across a small blue journal nestled between my waterproof trousers.
It came at quite a pleasant surprise since I hadn’t packed it, and I can only assume that my mum must have stuffed it in my bag before leaving.
Since that day, journaling has become an important ritual for me and a crucial part of my life.
In this article I will explore the benefits of journaling and give you an insight into how I journal in the hope that I can inspire you to start writing your own.
How Do I Journal
When I first started journaling it was basically a boring chronicle of the days events for at least the first year.
I went here, then here, ate a pretzel, then went to bed. It was factual, monotonous and simply a means for recording my experiences.
That’s fine but it didn’t tell me anything new about my life or locate things I could improve about myself.
Now, 3 years on, it’s a bit different. My journal includes:
- Mood tracking – A daily reflection of my thoughts, feelings and emotions.
- Lessons Learnt – From people I’ve met on the road and what they have taught me.
- Mantras & Affirmation – A collection of statements that I read to give me power.
- My Goals, Vision & Dreams – A log of my future aims and things i want to achieve.
- Ideas – A log of all the ideas that come to my head while i’m on the road.
- Memory Collage – Pages that I dedicate for sticking tickets, receipts, memories and notes from others.
- Gratitude log – A place to record one thing a day that I am grateful for.
I’m raw, extremely transparent and honest in my journals. As a result, when I send my journals home, I tell my mum not to read them and stuff them away in a box at the back of my room.
Whether good or bad, every person you meet can teach you something, and I think it’s really important to reflect on the people you come across while you have travelling.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself through other people, that I wouldn’t have noticed if I had chosen to think about myself all the time.
I also really enjoy leaving space in my journal for small memories that I collect on the road such as tickets, receipts, and notes from people I meet.
Each of these little artifacts tell their own story, and give me another way to recollect the memories of my travel.
Finally, every journal writer has a ritual. First of all, I am anal about the journal and the quality of paper I am writing on. The journal has to feel good in my hands, and the paper must be good quality, and always lined.
I make an effort to journal around 1 hour before bed when I’m winding down.
I always use the same pen (a black ball point BIC medium which I have used since primary school).
I always date my entry, start with a quote, and finish with something I have learnt or an actionable lesson.
I never read back my entries until at least a couple years on.
Why journaling Is Good Idea For You
If you’re considering journaling, you won’t regret it. Here are 4 key reasons why you should start journalling:
1. Your journal becomes a great friend
Whether you have a long bus journey ahead of you or a cold night in a tent, you’ll inevitably find yourself on your own while travelling and might feel lonely.
But despite your circumstances, your journal will always be with you and is a great companion who will always listen. When I feel anxious or lonely, I always turn to my journal and write down my thoughts and magically, it always seems to help the feelings subside.
2. Your thoughts become real
Journaling is the first step for tangibilising the thoughts that you have in your head. By putting pen to paper you bring your thoughts to life. You give them energy. You bring them out of your mind into the real world. Bringing your thoughts into reality through a suitable medium such as a journaling allows you to internalise your thoughts and let other people access them despite time and space. That’s a powerful thought, and who knows what affect your words might have on others.
3. Helps you organise thoughts and ideas
Our brains can hold a lot of information but find it hard to store it in the right order. That’s what paper is there for, and journaling is great idea for managing a frantic and muddled mind.
I switch between lots of thoughts daily, so writing them down is a useful exercise for organising and putting the puzzle together.
The idea to start this blog and my original blog posts came out of months and months of reorganising my thoughts and ideas in my journal.
Being self-aware, means being able to think about what you think about. Journaling is useful methodology for exercising self-awareness.
What emotions am I feeling today?
What’s annoying me?
Why am I not happy?
Are these feelings helping me?
What could I do differently?
You can use your journal to track your self-awareness by recording your mind’s monologue and thoughts as they pop into your head. This is a useful exercise because after a while of tracking your thoughts, patterns in your thinking will emerge and become much clearer. You’ll be able to see your blind spots, understand yourself better and come up with new ways to do things. This kind of constant improvement philosophy is a crucial part of self-awareness.
My life has changed dramatically ever since the day I spontaneously came across the journal in my backpack in 2012.
Writing has been an incredibly powerful escape for me that has given me purpose and direction when I’ve felt lonely on the road.
Despite the changing world and improvements in technology, there will also be something special about pen and paper and it will never become obsolete.
I haven’t read any of my journals yet, and I probably won’t for some years.
I can’t wait for the day when i’m grey and old, sat in front of the fireplace with my grandchildren, and I flick open the page of my very first journal, and the thoughts and memories come flooding back.
Thanks for reading and all the best,
Daniel Beaumont, 15th April 2017
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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