I’ve been journaling daily for just over 18 months—550 days to be exact—long enough that it’s become an entrenched habit for me. It’s also long enough to ask the question: Is the return on this activity worth the investment of time?
I’ve spoken with many who have said “no.” They tried journaling and found it a waste of time. Those who I talked to largely fell into three camps:
- The disoriented are uncertain what to write about or what they hope to gain by doing it. They give up because the uncertainty makes them uncomfortable.
- The distressed hope that by supercharging their introspection they can sift through their beleaguering questions and find tidy answers that will finally give them relief. They give up because the persistent focus on the past leaves them feeling depressed.
- The disenchanted approach journaling with the optimism of a treasure hunter but with the attention span of a hummingbird. The give up because today’s entry and perhaps yesterday’s did not inspire something brilliant within them.
I’ve felt all of these from time to time. There were days when I wasn’t sure what to write about (most of them, in fact). Days when I’ve felt discouraged about what I learned about myself. And many, many days when I felt that what I had written was a total waste of ink and paper.
But there were also days when I wish I could write even more. The euphoria on days like that is not unlike those rare times when I rip a golf ball down a narrow fairway, over the bunker and onto a green. Shots like that make me thirst for more. I have that same thirst for journaling too.
There are other ways, I suppose, that I could have spent those 365 hours (40 minute sessions x 548 days — I missed two since I started). I could have watched 182 movies or 121 NFL games; and been better entertained. I could have played 80 rounds of golf; and improved my play for the next round. I could have played 2 games of Monopoly (they seem to last that long); and become a real estate mogul. You get the idea.
Instead, I journaled. Sometimes early in the morning. Sometimes late at night. Many times when I didn’t even feel like it. But I wouldn’t trade those 365 hours. There has been few activities I’ve engaged in as an adult that has yielded more value to me than that simple habit. So, I don’t regret that investment at all. I only wish I had spent 7,869 more hours on it. Had I started it the day I married Anna, I’m sure she would be married to a better product now.
Have you found journaling to be worth the investment of your time?