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?

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?