Reflecting With a 5 Year Journal

Friends – thanks for all of the support during my current reshuffling. If you missed the post last week, I shared that we’re in the midst of repainting and reflooring half of our house which has resulted in living in a world that feels upside down. My internal emotions are extremely tied to my external surroundings, so I’ve felt a bit off-kilter lately. This whole project is not going very well, so I’m trying to stay optimistic.

Today I’d like to spend a little time thinking about how I’ve been using my 5 Year Journal. I purchased it in the summer of 2018 and after a few false starts, I’ve finally been using it in earnest. It’s become a wonderful rhythm to incorporate into my evening routine – spending just a few minutes reflecting on the day.

I write about my 5 Year Journal nearly every week and it recently occurred to me that I’ve never shown it to you. I have been using the Leuchtturm1917 Some Lines a Day notebook – it looks pricey at first glance but feels much more affordable when you divide the cost by 5 – for the number of years it will be used. Here’s a recent spread so that you can picture it:

These entries are for March 26th and 27th in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Each day includes the low/high temperature and the sunrise/sunset times. I also include the phases of the moon (1st quarter, full, third quarter, and new), but neither of these days were significant in that way. You can also see that I’ve included Covid case numbers for my state on the entries from 2020 and 2021. I typically include a quick summary of anything that felt significant throughout the day and it’s really fun to look back on what I saw as “significant” on any given day. Work on the garden almost always makes the highlights.

I’m constantly considering how I can use the 5 year journal in a meaningful way. Each month, Emily P. Freeman sends out an email with three questions to help reflect on the previous month. I wrote a post based on her prompts for February this year. But despite all of the reflecting I’m constantly doing, it’s hard to answer those specific questions because I haven’t spent my time looking for those things. So I’m going to try something different this month.

I’ve written down the questions she suggested for March and have been using them while writing my April entries in my 5 year book. The three questions she asked were:

  1. Where did you see God? [I will substitute “God” with “Stillness” because I have all sorts of issues with this question in the way that it’s asked.]
  2. When did you most feel like yourself?
  3. What is one word you’re holding on to? [I’ll get creative with this and think of it as where did I feel stuck today? What thought patterns kept getting in the way? What did I dwell on?]

I won’t be answering every question every day, but they’re helpful to keep in the back of my mind. I’ve already found that I’ve been jotting things down in my trusty Traveler’s Notebook as I go: things to watch out for, red flags that warn me that something is amiss, and of course – always – little moments of joy.

Do you have a 5 year journal? Or another way to reflect on your day as you wind down in the evening? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


17 thoughts on “Reflecting With a 5 Year Journal

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  1. I am really enjoying your journaling posts! I journaled daily for many years when I was going through my divorce and then raising my 4 daughters through their teens. The journals were so therapeutic but also so personal that at one point I destroyed them all as I never wanted to risk anyone reading them. I don’t regret that decision though I do wish that I had heard of and used a five year journal…I might just look for one!


    1. Wow – journaling is powerful, isn’t it? I definitely recommend a 5 year Journal – you could be writing down details from your days with Liam and it would be amazing to look back on in a few years… and amazing for him to have when he’s an adult!

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  2. Yes, I have a 5-year journal and am not nearly as detailed or disciplined in what I write, but I DO write in it every night. I especially love it now, as several years have accrued. Looking back on events and observations from previous years feels a little like knitting time together, and I love that. And as I write this I realize I may want to start a new practice and glance at my journal in the morning, in case there are things from previous years that I may want to reflect on during my new day. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful posts. And I hope your home improvement project comes to happy fruition soon!


    1. That’s such a great idea!! I might try something similar – thank you! And thanks for the positive thoughts on the house stuff – we are making just the tiniest bit of progress now and that’s exciting!


  3. I’m not sure that this format would work for me personally, but I love the idea of it. I can only imagine how interesting it will be when you’ve completed the five-year cycle and can look back on your thoughts day by day!

    I started keeping a journal again at the beginning of the pandemic and now write every evening while my daughter reads before bed. I can foresee this being a practice I continue long after the pandemic is over — it’s such a great way to gather my thoughts at the end of the day, even if it’s been a mundane day with nothing dramatic to reflect on.


    1. I love hearing about everyone’s journaling practices – thank you!! For me, the 5 year journal has been an amazing addition to my journaling routine. My morning writing is just a huge brain dump that I’d never be able to sort through and make sense of. But these few lines each night distills my day into memories that I can easily look back on – and it’s been so much fun!!


  4. Ugh – the 5 year journal. I have one. I have not written in it this year! And I can’t figure out if I want to try and go back to January 1 or if will just chuck the whole thing. I like the idea but have not been able to create a habit – daily or weekly. But I do like the idea of doing a look back at the end of the week. Okay, maybe I will try again. You always inspire me Katie.


    1. Hahaha – I say write when it strikes you!! Sometimes I write my entries the next morning instead of the evening that they’re “due.” And that’s okay too, of course! AND – I think it’s hard to get the full effect until you’ve done a whole year and start the cycle again… that’s when I was really able to see the benefit of keeping this notebook.


  5. I have contemplated this idea for some time now and seeing how the lay out is makes it even more intriguing! I love how you can look back at where you were the previous years! The way I am doing my journaling right now, I’d have to pull out individual journals to find the previous years entry. Hmmm, this just might be something that works for me! Thank you so much, Katie! (and I love those questions and your changes!!)


    1. That is exactly why a 5 year book is so helpful! It’s so hard to compare year to year AND I’d have to sort through huge brain dumps to get an idea about what was going on… This notebook forces you to write only a few sentences each day, which makes it easy to look back on!


  6. I journal everyday and yet, do not keep a 5 year J; the concept intrigues so maybe I’ll give it a try…I’m sure i have one among my stash…thanks for the inspiration…and sharing yours.


  7. I have never tried a 5-year journal, and you’re inspiring me to consider it! One of my favorite things about journaling is looking back at “this time last year” (well, honestly, that was a favorite thing pre-COVID – I haven’t done much looking back like that this spring) and that format would make it so easy! Sending positive vibes about the reno-project 🙂


    1. Yes – this format is perfect for that! My morning journals are all a page long and sometimes have nothing at all to do with much of anything… But my 5 year journal includes just a few sentences each day and really focuses on the goings-on of the day… much easier to look back on!


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