Daily Learning Journal

Guide to the Lifelong Learner’s Journal in Notion

My desire to make learning a daily practice began in 2019.
But it wasn’t until January 2021 that I’d figure out how to make this a sustainable habit.
Notion was a big part of this.
With it, I’d create a journal that made the habit easy to keep, the entries organized, and everything easy to review.
This was the start of my Lifelong Learner’s Journal, which is available as a free template in Notion for anyone to view, duplicate, and make their own.

Here, I’ll quickly walk you through the features of the journal.


In the “Lifelong Learning Page,” you have three tools at your disposal: 

1. Lifelong Learner’s Journal
2. The Library
3. The Notebook


Lifelong Learner’s Journal


Entries

This is where you’ll be recording what you learn.

I create at least one new entry every day. You’ll want to make them as short and comprehensive as possible to make reviewing them later easier for yourself. 
Here’s an example of what one of my entries looks like:

I keep the question displayed, and the answer within the toggle. It’s more effective to review what I’ve learned later on when I have the option to use active recall rather than passively re-reading.



Entry Properties

The options you’ll see at the top of each entry.
I’ll explain how filling each one in benefits you:

Title Line: Keep track of the your daily streak + the date of entry

Topic: Makes your entry more searchable within the table.

Date: Keeps your table organized chronologically

Find in Library: Adds your entry to “The Library” (more on that below)

Need to Review?: Adds your entry to a view dedicated for subjects you’d like to review later, called “Study View”

Last Reviewed: Keeps your entries in the Study View organized by the date they were last reviewed

Backed Up?: Lets you know which entries you’ve backed up outside Notion, if you choose to do so.


View Options

The different options for viewing your entries.

ALL entries (Gallery and Table): Both of these show every entry you’ve entered into the journal (so long that they’re dated)

1 Month View: Shows only entries you’ve added within the last 30 days.

•📝Study View: Shows the entries you’ve checked in the “Need to Review” box. These are sorted by the date they were last reviewed, so be sure to refresh that “Last Reviewed” date in the entries when you study!

Missing Date: to find entries missing a date. 

Double-Check Date: to check that the dates are entered correctly.

To Back Up: Displays all the entries you haven’t yet checked as having been backed up


The Library

This is a linked database which will contain all your Lifelong Learner’s entries, organized into your custom genres.

When you click on a topic, you’ll see every entry you’ve written for that topic gathered there, organized chronologically.
No sifting through months’ worth of random entries. It’s all neatly stacked here, like an organized bookshelf. 

You’ll see in the image below what shows up when I click on the topic “Dutch Vocabulary” in my own Library.

And if one entry belongs to multiple categories, that’s no problem! You can tag it with as many topics as you want, and it will show up in each page. 


The Notebook

In the Notebook, you’ll find 3 pages: 

My Knowledge Gaps, where you can record what you’d like to learn and write about in your journal

Quick Entry Ideas, where you can record topics you know you can learn fast and easily. This is handy if you’d like to make this journal a daily habit, and will need some quick learning options for days you don’t have much time to write. 

Study Notes, where you can take notes for things you’re not quite ready to add to an entry yet.


And now you’re ready to start your own Lifelong Learner’s Journal!

What do you want to learn today, and remember tomorrow?

Daily Learning Journal

Lifelong Learner’s Journal: Remembering Life

We like to believe that we’ll naturally remember what’s important to us.

“That brilliant idea that came to me in the middle of the night? No need to take notes. I’ll remember it in the morning.”

“That mistake I made again? Surely I’ll remember and know better next time.”

“And I’ll definitely not forget that inspiring, life-changing TED Talk by tomorrow.”

And we later reach into our trusty memory vault for these precious things, only to find that they’ve vanished—slipped through the cracks and gone with the wind.

One day, I reached a point where I’d had enough of this.
In my Lifelong Learner’s Journal, I’d been recording facts about the outside world. But I realized I had even more to hold onto…
My own life.


If you’re new to this blog:
The Lifelong Learner’s Journal is a project I started to learn something new every day, and record it.
It’s a way to keep my memories safe and easily-accessible. This way, if I’m struck with forgetfulness, I have at least one memory from every day stored safely and organized by category in the journal.
I created a digital version of the Lifelong Learner’s Journal in Notion as a free template. Feel free to use it and make it your own!


“Remembering Life”

I was hesitant to add a “Remembering Life” category to my Lifelong Learner’s Journal.
After all, it would feel like cheating to write down any mundane thing I experience as something I “learn.”
So I made a rule (more what you’d call “guideline” than an actual rule).
In order for an entry to be worthy of the journal in this subject, it must be:

• Whatever matters to me
• Whatever I don’t/won’t want to forget.

That’s it.
The Lifelong Learner’s Journal isn’t just about acquiring and remembering knowledge anymore.
It’s about enriching your life and your memory with what really matters to you.


What Really Matters

Here are some examples of things you might want to include in your own Lifelong Learner’s journal:

The Good:
• a hilarious story or joke
• a pleasant moment with a loved one
• a moment you connected with a deep sense of awe, creativity, gratitude, inspiration, etc.
• a moment you were proud of yourself

The Bad
• a mistake
a moment you realized you messed up, and can admit it.
could this become a funny story later on?
could it become a mistake you learn from rather than just be humiliated by it?
• something sad
like the death of a loved one, and how you responded to it. A moment of deep observation and contemplation. Of remembering the departed and realizing what you will miss about them, and what you’re grateful to have had. Grieving not just emotionally, but thoughtfully.

The Important
• A doctor’s visit, and the advice you received
• A crucial conversation/meeting, and its most important points
• Tracking your journey through a personal struggle
For example, I’ve found it helpful to record my bumps and victories along the road of dealing with my anxiety:
– What triggered a panic attack today?
– What techniques did I use to counter it? Were they helpful or not?
– What did I do despite the terrible fear of doing it? How did I manage it, and how did it go?

The Blurry
• high stress situations
• complicated experiences
• when your ability to concentrate/comprehend/remember is difficult
“What can I write about my experience today that I might forget or get jumbled up later?”

Simply Nice to Know
You don’t always need to explain your reason for wanting to remember something.
If it matters, it matters.


How to Get Started

There is no rule for how you learn and write something here.
But here’s some questions to ask yourself if you’re feeling stuck on that blank page:

“What did I experience today?”

“Why did this catch my attention?“
“What can I learn from this?“
“How did I respond?“
“How did I feel in that moment?“
“How did others act?“
“What were my thoughts?“
“What could I have done differently, and why?“
“Why do I consider this worth remembering? Why is this important to me and my future memory?“


Check Your Lens

While writing these entries, you may find that it’s hard to grasp things you felt you knew.
And in moments that emotions were strong, the details of what happened can still be hazy.

You realize that memory isn’t the only issue here,
but also your attention from that moment.
It’s like taking a video, only to realize later that the lens had been smudged, your video blurred.

This means that we must constantly sharpen a valuable skill:
Pay attention to life
To that precious, present moment.
And pay attention well.

Ask yourself in the moment: “What am I experiencing?”


What do you want to learn today, and remember tomorrow?

The Unlikely Expat

The Homebody Expat: Part III

Unlike my little hometown, Istanbul would not wake me to the sound of sweet birdsong and soft breezes through trees. On the contrary…

From our windows came the calls of jackdaws: a clever sort of bird, black and gray with pale blue eyes.
Once they discovered that I would leave out leftover bread outside the kitchen window, they would call to me for more in the mornings, sometimes coming to the bedroom to peck the window if I was still asleep.

The dogs guarding the shops across the street were never off-duty.
They barked at the men who pulled heavy white carts.
These men scour the streets and garbage bins for anything that can be sold for recycling, and toss it into their giant cart.
And when they went down the steep hill of our street, they would lean back, using the heels of their worn shoes and the metal frame of the cart as a makeshift brake system.
Metal against asphalt screeches as they slide, the dogs chasing them along the way—barking, and nipping at their heels until they feel they’ve successfully scared away the “intruder”, and return to their station.

When there was something to celebrate, such as a wedding, everyone was to be informed (whether they wanted it or not).
Honking. So much honking by a parade of cars down the street.
Even if the traffic brought them to a complete stop below our apartment, all the cars would proceed to honk at no one and at everyone all at once.
It wasn’t uncommon for some to bring a gun, and fire into the air from their cars.

Semi trucks were regular visitors on our street.
They struggled and groaned and puffed exhaust gas as they climbed the hill to the intersection beneath our window.
The trucks would often be too big to navigate the intersection without the help of people from the street shouting directions over the noise of the truck (“Gel, gel, gel, gel, gel, gel!”) amidst the impatient honks of waiting traffic.


For the two years I would spend in Istanbul, my sensitive self would be in a constant state of overstimulation to the city.

Rather than face my discomfort of the noise and the crowds, I would stay at home.
I would miss out on what I could have explored. And Istanbul has much more to offer than one noisy street!
I wouldn’t make friends, nor improve my Turkish speaking skills, being too shy to speak with anyone.

Many people would be outraged to hear this. How dare I not take full advantage of the expat experience!
And I can’t debate them on this.

I may have traveled across the world, but I took my little bubble of a comfort zone with me. And that bubble only extended to the walls of our tiny apartment.
I didn’t become one of those inspiring stories about a shy, small-town girl being transformed by her new world into an enthusiastic explorer.
Although I deliberately tried to adapt to this new life, something in my subconscious kept me stubbornly maladapted. Unchangeable.

With all of this said, you can imagine how much of this expat life is completely against my character. And I’ve only covered the noise aspect!
And yet…
I loved it.

The Unlikely Expat

The Homebody Expat: Part II

“Close your eyes, tap your heels together three times, and think to yourself,
‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.'”


I would stay in Turkey to visit my partner and his family for three months.
Three months in a massive, crowded, noisy city which sharply contrasted from the quiet, sheltered life I’d grown up in and loved.
Three months of being overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, curiosity, and admiration.

And when I returned to my quiet little town, I’d expected to appreciate the quiet living more than ever before. And I did.
Yet…
There was a shift. An unsettled feeling within me that I couldn’t shake.
I wasn’t comfortable at home anymore.
Where was the variety, the excitement, the chaos?

Before I had traveled outside the US, I’d looked at my hometown with the assumption of “this is as good as it can get.”
But now, my eyes were set to a new filter: everything I saw now, I had somewhere else to compare it with:

The traffic here is more peaceful than in Istanbul… But the drivers are less cautious as a result. They don’t respond to problems as fast here.”

I like waking up to sweet birdsong here, rather than the crows and honking cars of the city.”

The food in Turkey is so much better than American food.”

“Why are we all wearing our outside shoes inside?!”

But here’s the thing: I didn’t feel a longing to move to Istanbul. I didn’t miss everything about Turkish culture or big city life.
In fact, if I were to choose which feels more like home, I still would have chosen my small town in a heartbeat.
Only now, I wasn’t satisfied with it.


There is a special word for such a feeling. One which you won’t find in any dictionary besides that of John Koenig’s “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.”
This word is “ozurie.”
He describes it as that feeling that Dorothy must have felt upon returning home from Oz. That “maddening state of tension, trying to live in two worlds at once.”
Which will it be—Kansas or Oz?
“Do you plunge into a Technicolor riot of what might be, harsh and delirious and confusing? Or do you accept the humble beauty of ordinary life, where nothing ever changes and everything is simple?
“…Soon enough, life will offer you an answer. But for the moment, you are like Dorothy, sitting up in her bed, trying to decide which pair of slippers she wants to wear today. Black or ruby? Black or ruby?”


My sense of where “home” is hadn’t just moved from one place to another.
It became scattered, to a point where neither option could satisfy me completely.
There was no moving anywhere to fix the feeling.
I was determined to wait for this discomfort to fade. I needed it to fade.
I needed to feel at home again.
I wasn’t Dorothy, dreaming of traveling over the rainbow.
I was a homebody.
A mousey, introverted, socially-anxious homebody.
I wanted to feel at home without having to face the new, the foreign, the unexpected.

As I waited, I tried to satisfy this discomfort.
I dyed my hair red.
I rescued ferrets to take care of and give a luxurious life.
I turned the music in my car loud, and sang my frustration into the night.
But after nearly a year, that feeling hadn’t faded.

And there were new problems.
The immigration process for my partner to come here would prove more time-demanding and dispiriting than we’d counted on. Not to mention the racism he’d faced by my countryfolk in his short visits here still burned painfully (and embarrassingly) in my mind.

So it was time to decide: What if I go there instead?

And within one month of that question, I was back on that plane to Istanbul.
This time, with a one-way ticket.

The Unlikely Expat

The Homebody Expat: Part I

The Step Out the Door

“The Ozarks is where I belong.”

This wasn’t a declaration of pride, but rather a simple, subconscious inner agreement that I was satisfied where I was:
in my small hometown, where things felt familiar, predictable.

As an introvert with high levels of social anxiety, these were desirable qualities. I wanted peace and comfort; not adventure and surprises.
The rest of the world was just a story I wasn’t interested in reading. A book to keep on a high shelf and collect dusty cobwebs.

But love can make you do crazy things.

Four years before I became a world traveler, I met my partner. A foreigner who lived across the world, and was only visiting the US for the summer. We would cope with being in a long distance relationship for those years, our only reprieves being the few summers he could visit me.
But eventually, it would be my turn to visit him.

By this time, I was 23 years old.
I had never stepped foot outside the USA.
Had never been on a plane on my own.
Had never even ventured more than 2 hours from home by myself.
And was no less burdened by my oppressive social anxiety.

But here I was, not taking just a teensy step outside my comfort zone.
But instead, going on a solo trip that would last 24 hours, flying me across the world to Istanbul, Turkey.

The Unlikely Expat

The Overlooked Trials of Grocery Shopping as an Expat

It was my first morning in the Netherlands.
I got out of bed, light on my feet, the air charged with my own exhilaration.
I poured my cereal, and stood looking out the window at my new home of Rotterdam as I took my first bite—
And spit it out.
Sour milk.
I looked again at the liter of milk, and asked Google Translate what I’d done wrong.
My very first, excited purchase in this country had, indeed, been buttermilk for my cereal.

My heart sank with that familiar heaviness of discouragement.
I’d just spent two years in Turkey, relearning how to adapt to that new world.
And now, I had to relearn things all over again.


In the US, grocery shopping had been a mundane affair.
I knew exactly what I liked from years of experience and from simply growing up with my family’s trusted brands.
But when I moved abroad, the comfortable familiarity vanished.
And suddenly, I had to figure out what the decent prices are and what I like all over again.
With everything.

As someone who strives to be a smart shopper, and whose indecision nearly matches that of Chidi Anagonye in “The Good Place,” grocery shopping was mentally exhausting for me in the beginning.
Which grocery stores are the best choices, considering quality and price?
Are these more expensive dish soap brands worth trying?
Will any of these lotions soothe my cracking, wintery hands?
And the questions continued. From food to cleaning supplies to hygiene and self-care products.


Being as thrifty as I am, learning through trial and error has been emotionally painful.
From eating my terrible food choices, to donating products I regretted getting.
But throughout this past year, I’ve gotten a better grasp of this small part to being an expat in the Netherlands.

This meant learning enough Dutch to not even feel bothered when Google Translate (offline) told me that “vloeibare ontstopper” is “liquid blame,” rather than a drain cleaner.
I can now just read the labels and instructions on the bottle instead.

It meant figuring out what brands I prefer, like which chocolate will get me through the rainiest and windiest days here.

It meant getting the hang of the store hours in the Netherlands— some opening as late as noon, or closing as early as 5:30pm!

It meant noticing which products go up for sale frequently, so I could stock up on them accordingly.

And a very important part of adapting to life here: becoming an expert at purchasing only as much as can fit on my bicycle!


Grocery shopping is only a small part of expat life.
There is so much more to learn and get used to in a new country!
To the point that, with all of it added up, it can feel overwhelming.
But, it gets easier.
And eventually, even in this foreign land, that sense of comfortable familiarity returns to you.

The Unlikely Expat

The Sentimental Expat: Obsession with Memories

When a Homebody Becomes an Expat

When I saw that orange box of Arm&Hammer baking soda in the aisle, I must have perplexed the customers around me as I suppressed a scream of excitement and ran to it, eyes glittering. This, strangely enough, was a reminder of my homeland.
This was an unexpected part of me becoming an expat.
Not all of us adapt to living abroad with ease. Some of us were homebodies before we left our homeland, and become a bit too sentimental over our memories when we move.


The Cloak of Homeland Memories

When we move to a new country, there is a lot to adapt to. New languages, new people, new cultures, new stores, new jobs, new mannerisms, new bank accounts, new lifestyles. And for some of us, it’s hard to adapt to so many changes at once.
So we dawn on our cloak of homeland memories. Its cloth is made of warm, fluffy nostalgia that you can’t help but wrap yourself tightly in. It has images of your favorite memories printed all over. It has a special, warm smell of your sense of “home”. It makes you feel safe and secure as long as you’re wearing it. It’s a security blanket to cling to in foreign lands, when everything else feels uncertain.
But people like me tend to wear it too tightly. To draw the hood so far down that we hide ourselves from the new world, and it from us.

We see only what reminds us of home.
We concentrate only on smells that take us back.
We listen only for the familiar.
We live only for memories.


The Power of Memory Triggers

The breeze brushes against my face. I inhale. There’s a faint yet familiar scent.
Sun-warmed grass and August wildflowers.
My mind convulses as I’m jolted into the reliving of cherished moments in the US. I swim in the bliss of that fond memory for a moment, and crave to find that precise aroma again so that I can revisit it. I become frustrated when that moment ends.
In an instant, my cheerful mood is mutated into lonely melancholy.
All within one breath.

Among our senses, smell is the most powerful in triggering vivid and emotional memories.
Sadly for me, I have a hypersensitive sense of smell. And I’m sentimental. So this means that I have the “pleasure” of recalling such intense, abrupt memories often. My past is always intermingled with the present.

I enjoy wearing the cloak of homeland memories. But it doesn’t come without its risks. If you wear it long enough, homesickness overwhelms you. Any little thing can make your heart ache with longing. You’re plagued by the constant reminder that you can’t live in two places at once, no matter how much may you want to. That when you’re living in one country, you’re missing out on another.


The Danger of Unauthentic Memories

When we miss something, we tend to visit only their best features in our recollections. And when we’re left alone with these one-sided memories long enough, our perspective becomes skewed. This is how we set ourselves up for a truly unpleasant experience:
The reverse culture shock.
It is returning to our homeland, only to be stupefied when it doesn’t match our expectations and mental image we’d been carrying. It is having an emotional breakdown in a Perkins Restaurant not an hour from leaving the airport, because everything about home now feels so foreign.

It’s a scary reality to face, when we realize we don’t recognize our own homeland anymore. And more often, it’s not the country that’s changed, but ourselves. The experiences of travel changes us and how we perceive the world.


The Fragility of Nostalgia

I get that familiar scent of grass, and am again brought back to the bliss of recollection. But something else happens. Every time I’m hit by this nostalgia, the breeze seems to take just a bit of that intensity with it.
The cost of remembering becomes forgetting.
Forgetting that special sensation. Diluting it, until it becomes but a memory of something special; a feeling which I can no longer conjure it to its original strength.

No matter how tightly I might wrap the cloak of homeland memories around me, it begins to lose its warmth. The coziness fades, and discomfort increases.
Because I begin to change. I adapt to my new surroundings. I start to associate these memory triggers not just with my past, but also with where I am now. The past blends with the present.

So I develop a possessiveness over my memories. A desperate desire to keep them secret, keep them safe.
“If I just don’t think of them, maybe they won’t fade.” But memories always come to the surface, even in a foreign land. There’s just no stopping it.


Letting Them Go

Since I moved abroad, I’ve lost that concrete sense of what “home” is supposed to feel like.
I feel a part of it now in three different countries, but not completely in any of them.
I think it is this reason that I tend to cling to those memories that felt most like home. Because that feeling is harder to grasp now. That cloak of homeland memories makes me feel safe, secure, and certain.

But we cannot live in the past and the present at the same time. And even if we do hold on to the past with all our emotional strength and desperation, it won’t be enough. Because memories, no matter how precious, are subject to change. Whether it’s their form, their intensity, or our feelings toward them.

But that’s alright. Because life is not about staying the same. Things grow, things change, and things pass. And if we’re stuck in place dreaming of what was, we’re missing out on what matters now.
Learning to loosen our slack on the memories doesn’t mean forgetting everyone and everything in our homeland. It’s about keeping a healthy balance.
Otherwise, our hearts and minds would stay cluttered with the past.
Why not, instead, clear some space to allow ourselves to breathe?
Sometimes we must be okay with allowing some things to fade, and new things to grow.
With allowing ourselves to grow.

Our memories demand careful care:
Hold on too tightly, and the sorrow will consume us.
Change the memories to our liking, and we make our reality disappointing.
Grieve our human tendency to forget, and we’ll miss the opportunity to live.


And that concludes it!
If you could relate to this obsession with memories in your own life, feel free to let me know in the comments.
Thank you for reading!

Daily Learning Journal

Remembering What I’ve Learned with the Lifelong Learner’s Journal

Learning something every day has been a beloved habit of mine for the past two years. And although not every single day is worth a revisit, there are many things I’d like to upgrade from “learned once” to “long-term memory”.
Here, I’ll show you a couple things I’ve done to do this with my Lifelong Learner’s Journal in Notion.


If you’re new to this blog:
The Lifelong Learner’s Journal is a project I started to learn something new every day, and record it.
It’s a way to keep my memories safe and easily-accessible. This way, if I’m struck with forgetfulness, I have at least one memory from every day stored safely and organized by category in the journal.
I created a digital version of the Lifelong Learner’s Journal in Notion as a free template. Feel free to use it and make it your own!


How I Remember What I’ve Learned

Active Recall

Write Entries Using the Toggle Tool
This is how I set up most my entries. It’s like using flashcards.
You use the toggle to ask the question, and hide your answer within the toggle. This makes your entries look cleaner and more organized. It also makes it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for if you have a lot of information packed into one page.

Review your Entry by Thinking of the Answer Before Revealing It
This is active recall. Putting in the mental effort to find that answer in your brain, rather than passively reading it. It’s the only way I set up and review my entries, because I’ve found it to be the most effective in improving my memory!


Review Regularly

When you review your entries regularly, you’re giving yourself a better chance to refresh what you’ve learned and actually remember it. This is a vital step (in my experience) to ensure that what you’ve learned makes it to long-term memory. Otherwise, this would be a “write and forget” journal.

Use the “Study View” in Your Lifelong Learner’s Journal

If you want to review an entry for later, click on its “Need to Review?” checkbox on the top of the page.

All the entries with this checked box will end up in the “Study View”.


Here, your entries are organized by the date you last reviewed them. So when you revisit an entry, be update the “Last Reviewed” box so it can be sorted to the back of the pile.

Decide on When to Regularly Review Your Entries.
This could be:
• right when you wake up
• before you go to sleep
• while waiting in line or on the bus
• or any moment that you would ordinarily check social media, if you’re looking for a healthier substitute

Gradually, you’ll feel confident in your memory of an entry, and can uncheck the “Need to Review” checkbox, giving you more space in the “Study View” for new entries.


If you have any ideas or questions on how to make the most of the Lifelong Learning Journal, feel free to share in the comments!

What do you want to learn today, and remember tomorrow?

Daily Learning Journal

How I Keep the Lifelong Learner’s Journal a Consistent Habit

I have a long history of failed habit attempts. Yet with my Lifelong Learner’s Journal, it’s been a consistent habit for over two years now, without missing a single day. The difference between my failed habits and this one? I give myself easy options.


Why Make it Easier?

Setting high standards for daily habits (like “I will study for three hours every day”) is admirable. But no matter how well you plan your life around this goal, life will inevitably screw it up one day.
There will be busy days: Things come up, plans change without warning, and time runs out.
And stressful days: Emergencies to tend to, disasters to live through, and more important things take priority.
There will be tired days: You get sick, lose sleep, and you have no mental, emotional, or physical energy to work with.
And there are the lazy days: When even thinking about the habit is a repulsive, procrastinated effort.
If you don’t consider such days, your complicated, time-consuming habits will have to miss a day. And if you’re someone who thrives on keeping streaks—if missing a single day destroys your motivation—this can mean the death of the habit altogether.

Your life shouldn't be limited by your habits. 
Your habits should be flexible enough to work with you, no matter how crazy life gets.

If I had made it a requirement to study complicated subjects every day, this journal would have joined the habit graveyard with all my other 2021 New Year Resolution attempts. It would have become overwhelming. A dreaded chore, rather than the beloved hobby it is now.


Five Ways to Make Your Entry Easier

1. Keep daily goals small

If your goal is something like “improve vocabulary,” that’s too vague. How much vocabulary is enough to learn for one day? Where do you start? How do you know when enough is enough for one day?
Instead, you can break it down into one clear, easy step: “learn just one new word today.”

When you simplify your day’s learning goal, you keep the habit approachable and easier to maintain.
And when your limits are clear, you can reach that satisfaction of having completed a task rather than wondering “Was this enough?”

Not every day has to be a baby step. But giving yourself the option to keep things small and simple is what keeps the habit going.
2. Ask a friend

There will be days that online searches are intimidating. Too many choices for what to learn and where to learn them.
But you don’t have to research online to learn something new. Sometimes a simple conversation can suffice.
There are plenty of people out there who love talking about what they know.You probably have a friend or family member who would be more than happy to answer any questions you have. Ask them to explain it to you. What do they know that you don’t?

3. Reflect your personal experience

There are some things that only you can teach yourself. And it doesn’t require any tools beyond your ability to think.
Your own perspective is worth understanding. What was your experience today? What mistakes can you learn from? What did you learn about your own life that you want to remember? And if you’re having trouble reflecting, try journaling for a page or two.

Sometimes it's not until we write that we learn what we're thinking.  

Being aware and willing to learn from your own experiences is a valuable skill to practice. My post on Lifelong Learner’s Journal: Remembering Life is a great place to see how you can bring your life into this habit of daily learning.

4. Keep a list of entry ideas

In your Lifelong Learner’s journal, designate a page for questions you want answered. Write down things you want to learn, and break them down into bite-sized pieces. What’s something that can take only a few minutes of your time?

My favorite way to keep vocabulary-building easy:
I keep a pencil with me as I read a book. When I come across a word I don’t know, I’ll lightly circle it.
And on a day that I’m stuck trying to figure out what there is to learn, I’ll have these unknown words circled and ready for me.
All it takes is a quick look in the dictionary.

5. Keep a list of reliable learning sources

When you find a place that has easy knowledge, save it!
Bookmark web pages. Write down knowledge-packed books. Keep in mind friends or family members who enjoy telling people what and how to do things. Make a playlist on Youtube with short videos that look like easy learning opportunities. Know where you can go for easy information. Even if what you manage to learn and write down doesn’t cover the whole topic, it’s better to walk away having learned something rather than nothing.

Here are some of my examples of easy learning entry sources:

For English vocabulary:
WordHippo
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

For learning new words in a foreign language:
Reverso Context
Glosbe

Youtube channels for quick learning:
TED-Ed
Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
School of Life


Final Thoughts

I give myself no limit to easy-entry days. Sometimes a week will go by of “only” learning a new word a day.
But it’s because of these baby step days that I’ve managed to keep this practice consistent.
The aim of this journal is steady growth, in whatever pace is right for you.
Keeping it digital is just one more thing that’s helped me to keep this habit easy. If you’d like to start your own journal in Notion, you can check out my free Lifelong Learner’s Journal template.
If you have your own ideas for how to make daily learning easier, feel free to share in the comments below!


What do you want to learn today, and remember tomorrow?

Daily Learning Journal

Why I Started the Lifelong Learner’s Journal

Learn something new every day. 
Don’t worry if it’s an embarrassing question to ask.
It doesn’t matter if it’s something you should have known years ago.
Just learn it, and write it down. 

Why I Started

I began the Lifelong Learner’s Journal as a way to confront my fear of failure. 
And for me, ignorance was one of the worst kinds of failure. 
It was a label I put so much of my energy into avoiding. 
To the point that—ironically—I led myself right into it.

I’ll explain:
It would start with being asked a question I didn’t have an answer for.
That’s fine, right? We all have such moments, because no one knows everything
But instead of accepting this little gap in my knowledge,
my fearful brain would default to a different response:

  • Flood self with anxiety, and let self-esteem plummet.
  • Be so distracted by the humiliation of the moment, that actually attempting to learn the answer won’t even come to mind.
  • Embrace a false sense of security as I later avoid the topic altogether. 
  • When said topic inevitably returns one day, repeat the cycle.
  • And most importantly: Never just learn the thing!

This reached its peak when I moved to a new country.
There, I tied my self-esteem directly to my ability to speak a difficult language fluently from the start.
(What could go wrong?)
Every tiny mistake brought me deeper into paralyzing anxiety. 
And as a result, my ability to actually learn anything became stunted.
It didn’t matter how encouraging everyone around me was. 
This was a self-made trap that only I could break myself out of.


The Messy Start

So I decided to just confront my ignorance a little bit at a time.
Take baby steps to becoming more comfortable with asking questions.
And after some trial and error, I finally developed this into a strict, daily commitment on January 1st, 2021.
Finally, I was consistently practicing the terrifying act of facing one of the most monstrous things I know—my own ignorance. And I chipped away at it just a little bit every day. 


Why I Still Use It

Gradually—painfully so—I saw an improvement in my relationship with ignorance. 
Rather than looking at the unknown with overwhelming anxiety, I began to approach it with curiosity, and even eagerness to learn.
I started accepting myself, ignorance and all. 
Because now I was stacking up—day by day—small pieces of proof that I can improve.
I’d learned, through experience, that imperfection isn’t as bad as I made it out to be. 
And that seeking out those knowledge gaps and filling them in doesn’t have to feel so embarrassing.

This journaling practice not only helped me learn a language, adapt to living in a different country, and expand my areas of interest.
It also helped me to treat my mistakes as lessons rather than miserable failures.
It brought me back to actually enjoying my lifelong love of learning!

This process has been so dear to me, that I’ve loyally kept at it every day, with a streak of—so far—over 700 days. 


Your Turn

This is not an article claiming “How to Eliminate All Your Anxieties with This One Crazy Trick!”. 
I still have anxieties to deal with, and so much more to learn.
But this routine has been life-changing for me. 
And there are surely people out there who can benefit from it as much as I have!

Taking on a habit of daily learning doesn’t have to be fueled by issues like mine. 
It doesn’t even have to be serious, lifelong commitment.
It’s just a journal!

Whether it’s for school, hobbies, work, or your own personal development and curiosities.. 
Really, it doesn’t matter your reason. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. 
If you want to start a journey of daily learning, you are welcome here! 


How to Start

I created a digital version of the Lifelong Learner’s Journal in Notion as a free template (You can see a small piece of it in the photo above). Feel free to use it and make it your own!
Learning a new language? Then maybe start with looking up some new words. 
Are there things you’re embarrassed to not know? There’s almost certainly an article or Youtube video out there for you. 
There are no rules for what topics or research methods you choose.
Whatever it is, just learn something, and write it down.
And good luck!


Also in this blog, I show you How to Keep a Daily Learning Journal in Notion.

If you found any of this helpful and plan to start your own habit of lifelong learning, feel free to share in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and happy learning to you all!

What do you want to learn today, and remember tomorrow?