Five Year Diary

I just feel like the days are going by so fast, especially with the changing seasons.  Leaves are turning, and the air is chillier.  Before I know it, it’s a new year.  And somehow I feel like life is whizzing by along with those days (with work routines, long commutes, innumerable distractions).  There are some days I just ask myself – Where did all that time go? What have I accomplished?

Two years ago, I purchased a five-year diary.  It’s a handy notebook wherein I required myself to write a few words about my day.  It allows up to 6 lines per day.  I use it to mark for birthdays and special events.  It enables me to look back into the year, and it does force introspection.  Here’s how it looks now:

The book’s currently worn out because I bring it with me even when I travel out of town, so I don’t miss my entries.  But the binding is pretty sturdy, and the paper quite hefty.  I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my entries for the past 22 months – 38 to go.

I love the very succinct description from the Product page:

Designed by Shopsin–whose illustration work is regularly featured in The New York Times–and produced by The Ice Plant and Shopsin’s General Store, the pint-sized 5 Year Diary helps you keep track of the next 60 months of your life in just a few lines a day. Each page of the diary is devoted to one day of the year and subdivided into five sections (each with its own space for notes), so that, as time goes by, past entries can be read as the new ones are written. Handsomely clothbound with a red ribbon bookmark, the diary can be started on any day of any year–even a leap year. In the back of the diary are pages to record the books you’ve read and places you’ve traveled. As New York magazine’s Kendall Herbst noted, the 5 Year Diary is an ideal gift for anyone, anytime, as well as the perfect way to “trace your life’s highlights and trim out the minutiae Think of it as a sort of CliffsNotes to your life.”

Here’s the link.

I must say, this is one of the coolest things I’ve owned.  See, while I loved writing, I have always struggled to keep a journal.  I’ve bought notebooks and I would start them.  But would not be able to continue after one or two entries.  I’ve even tried to do it on my smartphone, but found that I could not sustain it.

Primarily because I feel like I’m too busy, or too tired, or too distracted, or too lazy.  We all have those days.  But also, journaling feels like a lot of work – it’s a lot of introspection, and I feel the need to constantly edit so it’s “good enough”.  Just takes up too much time.  Like school essays (and I used to love those – just not on a daily basis)

With the above diary, it doesn’t take too much time to update on a daily basis.  I’m close to finishing my second year, and it’s wonderful remembering what I did on the same day last year.  I think it will be even more valuable once I fill it some more.  On those days when I feel like I have more things to write about, I’d get the “big” diary, and just do a cross reference by date (that is such an audit-geek thing!)

That’s the thing with this activity.  You can’t write tomorrow’s entries.  Though it can definitely influence tomorrow’s events.

Brings to mind one of the coolest speeches I’ve seen on Youtube, by this little-known man, Steve Jobs:


In the speech, he says:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever–because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

I think this speech is just plain excellent.  As  person seeking answers, it affects and inspires me.  And even more, it’s extremely valuable because it just matters, especially in a generation of fast lives and distraction overloads.

Keeping this journal allows me to chart my dots, and take an objective look so I can connect them.  I’m having fun reading what I’ve been doing during the past year.   Some days were definitely more interesting than others.  But each of them have their space in my life.  I can recall some days when I was happy to counteract days when I’m sad.  I can see patterns in my own behavior, things I love, things I hate.

To all seekers and wayfarers, may you connect the dots, and may you find what you seek – happiness, meaning, peace, wealth, answers.

And once you find it, may you allow yourselves to seek further.  As Mr Jobs says in the above speech – “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

Wise words.


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