I have kept a journal in various guises since I was 16. Over the last few months, as I have transitioned into a substantially different phase of my life and work, I have been re-reading parts of my journals, particularly from my very early 20s when I was working out what I wanted to do with my life, to help make sense of where I am and where I’m going.
In my youth I wrote at great length about my possible directions in life. In almost all cases when I read today what I wrote when I was young, I feel I am now fulfilling the essence of what I wanted my life to be.
On the left is just one of many pages I wrote when I was young about my dreams for my life. As I found and read this recently I reflected that I have certainly brought to life the essence of the dreams that I captured on this page, with some elements still in the process of being created.
Keeping a journal has undoubtedly been a massive help in bringing my dreams to reality.
The first wonder of a journal is that the very act of writing it helps clarify your thinking. Putting ideas into words makes tangible the amorphous daydreams that inhabit our mind day by day.
The second wonder of a journal is that it provides a reference and reminder to what you were passionate about at that point in your life. The idea or the passion may be forgotten, but a journal keeps in store what you at some time felt to be a powerful vision, something important, that you can later revisit and rediscover.
The third wonder of a journal is that it keeps you accountable. If you had and captured a dream, it is there for you later to compare yourself with. Possibly you will change as you grow older and no longer value the same things, in which case you can reshape your vision. Or maybe you will be reminded of values and dreams that you need to be reminded of when you contrast what you aspired to and where you are.
The fourth wonder of a journal is that it shows to you the richness of your life in the present. Every year when I re-read what I have written during the year, I am astounded by the amazing richness of the life I have lead. It is so easy to forget the power of the ups and the lessons of the downs that we all live through. We may often feel that our lives are not what we want them to be in any of a myriad of ways, but if we capture the flow of our experience we can far better appreciate what we do have, both relative to our dreams and as the absolute of the pure beauty of being alive.
“The unexamined life is not worth living,” quoth Socrates.
Keeping a journal is probably the most powerful way to allow us to examine our lives – in depth if we choose.
That makes our lives not just more worth living, but also helps us to define and capture our often-evanescent dreams and bring them to life, making our own lives richer and reaping wonderful benefits for those around us.
Image: Uzi Yachin