With the year coming to a close, many of us are thinking about resolutions for the new year, and how we can make ourselves into better people. Last week, I posted journal page templates for you to print and use, to help you make changes. A table of milestones, measures and targets was shared, as well as a daily log.
Today, I am sharing templates that complement the ones from last week. A monthly tracking template will be featured. In addition, there is a matching annual review template.
Why Keep a Journal?
If you have never kept a journal, you may question the value of writing your thoughts down. You may believe that processing your thoughts internally is equally effective. But there are benefits to creating a written record as opposed to confining the events to your memory.
- Clearer thoughts. Crystallizing your thoughts into written words forces you to ruminate on a description of the events. It makes you unravel the details, grapple with the context, and process the actual meaning of what happened. Your intellect allows you to conveniently skip these steps when you recall events and draw conclusions solely in your head. When I directly translate my initial thoughts into written words, I can often find logical errors and inconsistencies that were invisible just moments earlier. I can then reconcile problems and reformulate ideas. When I write my thoughts down again, I can do so in a way that is coherent, sensible, and internally consistent.
- Deeper insights. Confining your thoughts to your brain requires you to expend mental energy on storing the information. With your thoughts safely captured on paper, you can apply mental bandwidth elsewhere. You can be more mindful, and concentrate on experiencing and understanding what is happening. You can also focus more intently on identifying patterns of behavior and creating workable solutions.
Have you ever kept a journal? What were the advantages? What did you learn about yourself?
Why Write by Hand?
I grappled with the question of journal format when designing the forthcoming The Kind of Parent You Are: A Journal. Paper seems to be a thing of the past. Everybody uses electronics these days. Why not make an app? A journal app can be carried around in your pocket, which is strong argument for going electronic. However, that was also one of the reasons I advocate for paper. Here are some advantages to writing in a printed journal:
- It is not a distraction. You would not keep a printed journal in your pocket like you might with a phone. This means you can mindfully go about your day, focused on your priorities, without your journal beckoning you to record what is happening every moment. You can stay in the moment while your printed journal pages wait patiently on your desk. Your journal entries will be more meaningful at the end of the day, after you have had time to reflect and to take stock of what you did.
- It is versatile. You can write words, draw pictures, or make graphs on paper. You can write in different colors using pencils, pens, and markers. You can attach receipts, photos, ticket stubs, and stickers.
- It is more deliberate. Writing by hand is a slower process than typing on a keyboard. It requires more concentration. As a result, you measure your thoughts and your words more carefully.
- It requires conciseness. The size of a journal page doesn’t change. The fields in a table do not expand, no matter how much you want to write. These space limitations force you to choose your words carefully. You have to prioritize your thoughts.
- It is a tactile experience. There is a physical connection between you and the words you put on paper. That translates into an emotional connection as well. The words become ingrained in your memory. When you review your entries later, the feelings you experienced when you wrote are palpable. Words that were crossed out reveal your thinking patterns. Your hurried pace is evident in the writing one day, and your frustration shows in a tightly held pen from another day.
Have you tried journaling both electronically and by hand? What differences did you notice?
Tracking by Month
Last week, I gave you some templates to use. That is obviously not enough time for you to have recorded a full month of entries. However, I think it helps to know what is next in the process.
Toward the bottom of the page is a link to a tracking template you can use at the end of every month. The top section of the monthly tracking template contains a grid for you to record the month, your milestone, your daily measures, and whichever scale you are using. The bottom section is for recording your key observations for the month. As an example, I am including a month recreated from my personal journal below.
Last week, I used a week from November 2016 as an example for filling out the daily log. It appeared to be a good week for me, showing steady improvement. The story looks a little different when you see the whole month. Ultimately, I learned that this milestone was not as instructive as I thought it would be, but I also realized which milestone was the most instructive for me.
Once again, note that there is only room for one milestone. Changing a habit is hard work. Trying to do more than one at a time will probably distract your focus, and be an exercise in frustration.
Notes may include how you tracked against your target, what you learned about yourself, new techniques you developed, what you would like to do more of, what you would like to do less of, what you would like to keep doing, and strategies for approaching the same milestone in the future.
After an entire year of journaling, you will want to assess your progress. For this purpose, a link to a twelve-month review template is also below. Your year-in-review notes may include thoughts on your experience using the journal, observations on how you have changed, and a summary of key learnings. They may also include a reassessment of your key challenges, a list of objectives for the next year, and thoughts on potential refinements to your beliefs, values, purpose, vision, or goals.
This twelve-month review template contains no formatted fields or prompts. It is entirely for you to enter the content on the lined page. It matches the style of the other templates so you can keep them all together – binding them if you so choose – in a way that will be visually appealing when you go back later to review what you wrote.
Links for Downloads
The links below each take you to a separate page with an email entry form.
The companion journal to the book The Kind of Parent You Are will contain templates like these, as well as some additional instruction and pages for general notes. Some of the page templates are being made available here for parents who would like to try out the concepts before committing to using a journal, or would simply rather print it out themselves. The templates will stay posted here, so you can download and print them any time.
Whether you use these templates or another format, the important thing is investing the time and energy to developing yourself as a parent, and as a person. By extension, you will be helping your children to develop as well.
How to Properly Cite this Article: Brian Vondruska, “More Parenting Journal Templates ”, The Kind of Parent You Are, accessed [date], https://www.thekindofparentyouare.com/articles/more-parenting-journal-templates.