Four Simple Ideas For Keeping A Daily Journal

Jake with JournalThough I keep a journal now, it has not always been a part of my life. I always thought of journal writing as something that is done for my children, or grandchildren. Planning on writing for these future generations, I systematically rationalized myself out of writing in my journal thinking that the events in my life were too trivial to write to about.

My journal consisted of an entry once every few months, but sometimes going years between writing. One day on my mission I read an old Ensign article about the anniversary of Wilford Woodruff’s birth. President Woodruff is known in part for his journal writing, so there were several quotes in the article about journals. One impacted me deeply, encouraging children to start keeping journals early in their lives. He said:

“If my young friends will begin to do this and continue it, it will be of far more worth than gold to them in a future day.” (Journals: “Of Far More Worth than Gold”, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 132)

Knowing gold to be of great value, I knew that to truly be rich in my life I must keep a journal.

Even though I felt then that I must keep a daily journal, it took almost a year to be able to get into the habit. Earlier attempts to write in my journal daily always failed — usually ending up with me becoming discouraged. The rule that enabled me to keep a journal is this: Keep it Simple. Every time I didn’t want to write in my journal it was usually because I would write too much, or I thought too deeply, or I thought nothing of importance had happened that day.

The Solution?

These four ideas will enable you to keep a daily journal:

  1. Keep it short and simple.
    Two or three sentences is a good journal entry. Write more when you feel the need. Also, don’t feel daunted by playing catch up on your entire life between entires — just fill in the details when the background is needed.
  2. Write what you did each day.
    Things that are common I usually mention in a single sentence: “School, work, watched a movie with my family.”
  3. Write what you feel.
    I often also offer any feelings I might have about my life, the events that transpired that day, and especially gratitude for blessings received.
  4. Make the choice.
    About I year ago I decided I would always write something — even if I got home late or thought I didn’t have anything to say. I often found I had more to say once I started writing.

Even with short entries, I have already noticed the value of my journal. Often at nights after writing I will flip back through the entries investigating how I came to feel as I did. I can easily recognize what I did before to resolve it. Especially, I have seen the strength I have received from following other gospel principles such as when I made an extra effort to go to the temple, or a day that I was especially grateful for other people in my life. Reading my journal revives the feelings felt that day, and offers me great wisdom in how to handle the events currently transcribing in my life.

Keeping a short journal makes it easy to start a daily habit of writing. Even with simple entries, insights into past events allows you to see progress and receive strength. In a year of writing, my journals are already “worth more than gold.”

Jake Skydives in Ogden

My son Jake called us today from the Ogden Skydiving Center. He said come quickly to watch him skydive. We arrived as his plane was taking off. Here is his account.


Jake tandem skydiving over Ogden

Jake tandem skydiving over Ogden

Invitation To Skydive

Matt Hall invited me earlier this week to go skydiving, it is one of those things I have always wanted to do in my life so I answered “Yes” without hesitation. After thinking I added, “If my grades are good enough to keep my scholarship.” Matt picked me up and we arrived and we signed up with the group. In order to fly I had to sign a liability contract, initialing every paragraph and also writing a statement saying I understood that I might be seriously injured or even die. The instructor gave the first time jumpers a few tips: crouch by the door and don’t hold on to anything; put your head slightly back and let the instructor jump; after leaving the plane make sure you arch by pushing your hips forward and bending your legs back; when landing hold your legs out in front so you can glide to a stop.

Why Am I Doing This?

Skydive Ogden plane.

Matt and I got assigned to the last of four plane rides, so I was able to see a few jumps before I went up. My jump buddy suited me up and we were the first into the plane. The plane took off and circled along the mountains climbing to about 11,500 feet. When over the airport once again, they opened the plane and the first few people dived out of the plane. That is probably the only time I thought, “I am crazy, why am I doing this?” But it quickly passed.

The other jumpers jumped rather quickly and without incident. When my time came I did as I was instructed and we did three flips out of the plane and then stabilized. My jump buddy showed my how to steer as we were free falling, and steering around I enjoyed the view and the feeling. It was just about the same as flying in a plane except there is no plane and the ground gets big really fast.

It Was A Blast

The instructor pulled the ripcord and we quickly jerked to a slow fall. After a few seconds he gave me the ropes and showed me how to control the chute. It was a blast going left then right and diving — I could even feel some G’s as I make the chute turn as tight as possible. Once we got closer to the ground the instructor took the ropes and glided us in close. There were already two people on the landing grass, so my instructor yelled, “Look out!” and glided us between the two. We quickly vacated the grass so people behind could land.

Flying around thousands of feet in the air is a blast! I hope to be able to do it again soon.


Paul, Jake's brother, waiting by the hangar.

Paul, Jake’s brother, waiting by the hangar.

Jake's skydiving plane takes off.

Jake and Matt’s skydiving plane takes off.

Skydiving photographer comes in first to land.

One of the skydiving photographers comes in first to land.

Jake near the end of his first skydive.

Jake near the end of his first skydive.

Jake lands from his skydive.

Jake lands from his skydive.

Matt and Jake receive skydiving certificates.

Matt and Jake receive skydiving certificates.

Rickety signature

Mission Reflexiones: Comienzos

Jake and his Dad at the MTC August 2006
My guest writer today is my son Jake Willoughby who just sent this post via email from Mexico.

More than two years ago in May I received my calling to Mexico as an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of the Savior Himself. I remember calmly opening the envelope with the cameras rolling and reading the letter that extended my call to serve in the Mexico, Mexico City North Mission. My feelings indifferent as I was glad to serve the Lord wheresoever He desired. I had a great desire to learn another language and my two brothers had learned Spanish in their missions. I believe the realization of what I had undertaking did not sink in until I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo.

Wednesday, 23rd of August, 2006: My family accompanied me to Provo to see me off. I had already been through the experience with my two brothers so I knew what to expect. I dropped my luggage in the indicated place, and signed in. After the short meeting they instructed us to say goodbye and part from our family through opposite doors. I had learned from my older brother, Paul, that getting it over quickly is the best way. I gave a quick hug to everyone and said “goodbye.” I was eager to enter the other door and start the mission I had prepared for all of my life.